Category Archives: Inspiration

A Letter to The Haters

healthybellyselfie

In celebration of this letter I present to you my #healthybellyselfie – something I have been terrified of sharing/posting for months. I’m free!

Are you ever on the brink of saying, sharing, posting, shouting something very brave that puts you in a very vulnerable position? Where you are ready to hit send, post, publish, or whatever and then …

… then you think of all the possible “haters” and how they might react?

I kid you not, it happens to me almost every time. And I have a running list of haters – who will be offended, who will unfollow me, who will unfriend me, who will unsubscribe from my newsletter … sometimes it’s different haters for different venues, sometimes there are haters across the board.

But then do you ultimately decide to put yourself out there? To share with the world that which is the most frightening for you to share? To release all your shame. To make your mess your story…

I ultimately and consistently decide to continue to put myself out there. In a social media, virtual kind of way … and the more I do that, I do it in a face-to-face, real life kind of way.

And what happens when I do?

Hugs. Tears. Laughter. Sharing. Support. Community. And feedback in the most beautiful and honest way.

I forget about the haters – they seem to dissolve into thin air – because I see who all the likers … no all the lovers … are.

And I will tell you that I have been unsubscribed from, de-friended, unfollowed, and so forth by some of my penned “haters.” Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, maybe it’s instincts, but regardless I’m learning that it doesn’t matter. That as I make my mess my story and my mission, I’m going to offend, annoy, and piss off a few folks along the way.

But I have to tell you that it’s so worth it when I start to see a community of brave and heart-filled souls building around me. It’s a slow and steady build and one brave soul is worth losing 1000 hater/followers on any social media platform.

As Brene Brown so eloquently puts it:

Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.

I will NEVER win over the haters, so I’m making a promise to myself (and to you) that I’m going to quit trying and quit worrying about them. Who knows, maybe they will make their way back to me someday? Either way, I wish them well.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Simply Living and Living Simply

IMG_7055

Flowers blooming out of the ledge at Zion National Park.

On my most recent visit to my chiropractor we were catching up as it had been over 2 weeks since my last appointment. Dr. Josh Lander is still a new fixture in my life but I have already seen huge gains in the health of my hip and knee. During our sessions I feel free to ask any questions about the work he is doing (to help with my injuries) but we will also chat about race schedules, I ask random questions about running, and during this last visit he asked if I had been up to anything cool.

I immediately felt the need to respond with an impressive laundry list of my recent feats. Work, personal life, vacation, you name it. I was so relieved that I had something “cool” to talk about – my most recent trip out west.

I told Dr. Lander about the many places I visited with my cousin in just 4 days, covering over 1000 miles as we drove through Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

When I turned the question back to Josh, and asked if he had been up to anything cool recently, he replied with a chuckle, “working my ass off.” He expanded to say “that and fitness. I had lyme for 3 months over the winter so I’m just really happy to be able to be focusing on my fitness again. I’m living simply.”

That’s when it hit me how much we (or at the very least I) often strive to have more on my plate: more classes, more clients, more events, more slots full. And I often find myself wanting to be able to regale folks with all the amazing things I am up to, but then have a sinking feeling that A) those things aren’t really that amazing and who’s going to give a damn? or B) Who wants to hear if I’m just living simply and feeling super happy by the little things like being able to run?

I can answer that second question for you: I do!

I was so relieved to hear someone, who is highly successful, happy, and motivated, be completely honest and also proud of the fact that they are living simply. And feeling fulfilled from having their health back.

And when I really think about it, and dig a little deeper, I too feel full from the fact that my migraine patterns have shifted to the point where I can work, be social, regularly attend yoga, and run outside. I am so grateful that my health has taken a turn for the better. It is a very simple, yet substantial (and literally life changing) gift.

It’s time to stop beating ourselves up for not doing enough, for always feeling like our plate isn’t full enough. Our plates, our hearts, our souls – they are plenty full if we stop and take inventory. Yes, I’m telling you to take it easy on yourself, create a groovy balance in your life, find your mojo, live simply. Or simply live.

Tagged , , , , ,

Trusting in the Process of Change

IMG_0001

Limber Pine in Bryce Canyon National Park

First thing this morning I read a blog entry posted by my friend and client. It was on change. It didn’t take but a moment for me to feel like he was talking directly to me as I started to read:

“Change, for me, comes during times of struggle.  I’ve never made a significant change when I’m warm and comfy…..ever.”

I read these two sentences over and over again and I got chills. This really must be the universe reminding me that as I am going through a challenging time, I must trust that staying present in this discomfort will result in something greater.

There is a quote (who can tell me who it’s by?) that goes:

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Well, here I am at 31 slowly building my dream life and career, while being confronted by the financial challenges (and sometimes grim realities) of a freelancer/independent contractor. By the instability of a schedule that is in constant flux with ebbs and flows, gains and losses. I am constantly reminded of impermanence and that nothing is guaranteed. And then I notice how do I deal with the reality of impermanence? How do I approach it with love, grace, and compassion?

I approach these challenges with love, grace, and compassion by keeping the faith and by trusting.

I have Faith that when it feels like everything is crumbling and dissolving, there will be an equal amount of rebuilding and resolving. And that when I do eventually get to the other side I will have a laugh at how discouraged I once felt.

I Trust that it’s ok to ask for help. I trust that when I ask for help people won’t run away and that it’s ok to cry when I feel like my small little world is falling to smithereens. I Trust in the support of a loving community of heart-driven people. I Trust in myself that “I can do this” and that “I have my own back” as does the universe and said community.

When I visited Bryce Canyon National Park last weekend there was a beautiful tree as we neared the end of our hike: the Limber Pine. You can tell by it’s exposed sprawling roots, unprotected by earth, that this tree has been through hell and back again. And then I read about the tree, about how they are resilient and can grow on the edge of cliffs, exposed to erosion and the elements, but deeply connected by their strong tangle of roots.

I resolved then and there that as I go through the challenges I am currently faced with, I want to be resilient like the Limber Pine that surely goes through struggles but allows it’s branches to bend and sway so that it can then stand upright and elegant time and time again.

My friend was right, I can’t think of a time that I’ve taken great strides when I’ve been all warm and comfy. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I love more than being warm and comfy. Except maybe welcoming the opportunity for change.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rolls, Thigh Gaps, and Spare Tires

6097785133_02db3aeb1bWhen did we learn that having “rolls” (on our stomach) is a bad thing? Furthermore, when did we learn that having these rolls makes us inherently bad?

I asked this of a dear friend and mentor of mine after reading her very moving piece pertaining to her own body image struggles and her reply was:

Society’s image: stick thin is so ingrained on our psyches that we can’t see ampleness as beauty. In Rueben’s day I’d be on the cover of Vogue.

I couldn’t agree more.

But then as I was driving to meet a client later in the day I thought to myself: wait a minute, what about the girls who ARE stick thin and are STILL unhappy with their bodies and themselves? I can think of a few friends off the top of my head who I look at and think wow they must not have any body image issues, but then they open up to me and all the self-hatred leaks out so effortlessly.

What I think this comes down to is a scarcity issue in our society. It’s a much bigger issue than I can sometimes wrap my head around. I know that people often look at me, or even read my blogs about struggling with my own body image, and think to themselves “what does she have to worry about?”

But from a young age I can remember comparing myself to the other girls who were smaller, thinner, prettier, smarter, more talented, getting into better colleges, and so forth. The comparing and subsequent self-loathing seemed endless.

I allowed myself to believe that, despite my parents best efforts in trying to reassure I was doing enough – that I was gorgeous, smart, and talented – I still firmly believed that I just wasn’t cutting it. Something had to be wrong the very makeup of me. And nevermind my little belly that I discovered at a very early age and have had a love/hate relationship with every since (mostly hate until recent years).

The conversation isn’t over. An answer has not yet been found as to how we are going to cure this illness we have in our society. I aim to continue thinking about it, writing about it, discussing it, and sharing it. And in my own small community I hope to show women and men how they can use yoga as a modality toward self-acceptance. It certainly does not happen overnight but through regular practice.

I don’t care if you can do a handstand, touch your toes, or twist into a pretzel …. what I care about is how do you take the yoga with you? How does it infiltrate your self-worth? Therein lies the true practice. When you can be standing in line at the grocery store, and look down at your legs – regardless of their shape or size – and think how grateful you are that they are holding you. Rather than ripping into how lumpy they may look, or wondering why you were one of the unlucky ones born without a thigh gap.

Or it happens when you are getting dressed in the morning. And you stop and see yourself in the mirror, and while your first inclination might be to drown in the squishiness of your belly and just plain hate yourself, instead you start to see your roundness and fullness as a representation or how full and grand your heart is.

Why can’t it all be beauty? Ampleness, thin, slim, round, full, slender, skinny minny… as long as our bodies and our souls are healthy – isn’t that true beauty?

Tagged , , , ,

Why We Need to Acknowledge Our Progress

It’s those little things. All those small steps. They add up and then you look back and you’re like “WOW – I’ve come so far!”

I hear my clients and students talking a lot about how far they feel from where they want to be. How far they are from their goals. And I find myself reminding them often that they need to remember where they came from. That they need to keep acknowledging their progress.

We live today in a culture where we are taught that we are never enough. Not good enough, tall enough, thin enough, fast enough, pretty enough, lean enough, muscular enough, liked enough … I’m sure you can think of plenty “enoughs” to add to this list.

Whether we have a family, career, children, or all of the above, we feel this sense of lacking. Of never being or doing enough.

We see only what we wish we could be, have, or become. And don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to dream and go for those dreams. But the issue lies in fixating on that and comparing where we stand to where we wish we stood.

I think about this a lot when I’m coaching and teaching but it hit me personally when I was skiing last week.

IMG_6813Let me just say that I am a total fair-weather skier. There is nothing about the way that I ski that shouts daring, adventurous, or “advanced.” But it occurred to me when I was breezing down a blue run (that’s about as advanced as I get – a nice wide open blue square run) that I’ve actually come pretty far from the days as a kid when I tumbled out of the chair lift with my dad and spent the next 15 years convinced I would never be a “winter sports” person, let alone put on another pair of skis ever again.

I’m still not your typical “winter sports” kind of person – I take it easy on the slopes, choosing the “fun” runs over the super challenging ones –  but I have developed enough confidence in my skiing ability where I can now ski with some pretty badass skiers and snowboarders, or accidentally make my way down a black diamond without screaming in fear all the way down. To top it all off – I won’t hesitate to brag about the fact that I NEVER fall.

I had a moment of total frustration last weekend when I was with a group of three snowboarders – all very near and dear people to me. On every run I was behind them and it just felt like I couldn’t catch up hard as I may try. I decided I needed to take a run on my own (go figure it was called “Easy Street”) and as I glided down Easy Street I couldn’t help but smile as I gave myself some credit.

I gave myself credit for getting out there, for putting skis on, and for making it down the hill. I could be in awe of those I was skiing/boarding with. Plus they taught me all the cool snowboarding jargon like “Shredding the Nard” – gnarly!

I could also be in awe of how far I had come – and my mish-mosh of ski instruction over the last 10 years, all of it informal and a lot of figuring shit out on my own.

So, I’m glad I had this experience of being in a position where I first felt completely lacking to then making an effort to acknowledge my progress. And as soon as I did, I felt completely full. I felt like I was enough.

 

 

Tagged , , , ,

3 Reasons Endurance Athletes Benefit from Health Coaching

Why Do Endurance Athletes Need Health Coaching?

Ironman Lake Placid 2012 – just before the finish!

I have been fortunate to coach some pretty incredible endurance athletes over the last few years. And we aren’t talking professional endurance athletes: we are talking the athlete who has a family, a career, hobbies, and somehow manages to integrate a training schedule with enough hours to constitute a part-time job.

I love working with these people because of their intense drive and motivation – and also because I speak their language. I understand feeling like the “crazy” one who leaves a dinner party at 8:30PM because you have a 5AM training session.

So I was thinking about this – why DO endurance athletes need coaching? There are a myriad of reasons so I’ll start with three that really stick out in my mind:

Don’t ignore the basics: food and hydration.

Are you feeling drowsy every afternoon because of that 5AM brick workout, or because you are low on your water intake? Or could it be that skipping lunch because you are “too busy with work” is finally starting to catch up on your energy level during evening hill repeats? Proper hydration and nutrition seem simple enough but when we are juggling training for an endurance event PLUS everything life throws our way, we need to make sure we don’t ignore the basics.

It’s training for your mind and soul.

We spend so many hours every week fine tuning our body in preparation for race day. But what about preparing your mind? In coaching we confront all of the fears … the “what if’s?” of race day. One of my biggest fears around Ironman Lake Placid (and this is probably a popular one for many of you) was “What if I don’t finish?” I worked with MY coach and confronted this fear and came up with a mental game plan for how I might feel or react if I didn’t finish. And when I explored the what if’s instead of ignoring them, it felt like I got all my worrying out of the way. Like I had just “cleansed” myself of worries and had an (almost) worry-free race day!

It makes race day that much more meaningful.

One big reason I love coaching endurance athletes is that these folks have giant hearts and they aren’t afraid to dream big. They have an internal drive that pushes the envelope and is constantly curious what the human spirit is capable of. When you find tune your intention and reason for racing it’s like giving yourself an unlimited stash of mental GU gel. It’s a natural burst of energy that keeps you going through challenging training days and culminates in that final push on race day. Every race, every year, the reasons may change – they shift because we go through different obstacles in our lives. But when we cross the finish line, it’s so much more than just a PR or just a race – it’s a celebration. And that race can become one of the greatest learning experiences you’ll endure.

 

If you are interested in health coaching in preparation for an endurance event, or have any questions about what coaching might be like for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at maggie@maggieconverse.com. Your first 30-minute session is on me!

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Adios by Naomi Shihab Nye

IMG_6674I read this poem, fittingly, on my last day in Colorado. It was a part of a piece of artwork created by one of my hosts. When I was feeling sentimental about my vacation and adventure time coming to an end. It made so much sense to me, so beautifully soft and eloquent. I can’t help but want to share it.

Adios

It is a good word, rolling off the tongue
no matter what language you were born with,
Use it. Learn where it begins,
the small alphabet of departure,
how long it takes to think of it,
then say, then be heard.

Marry it. More than any golden ring,
it shines, it shines.
Wear it on every finger
till your hands dance,
touching everything easily,
letting everything, easily, go.

Strap it to your back like wings.
Or a kite-tail. The stream of air behind a jet.
If you are known for anything,
let it be the way you rise out of sight
when your work is finished.

Think of things that linger: leaves,
cartons and napkins, the damp smell of mold.

Think of things that disappear.

Think of what you love best,
what brings tears into your eyes.

Something that said adios to you
before you knew what it meant
or how long it was for.

Explain little, the word explains itself.
Later perhaps. Lessons following lessons,
like silence following sound.

~Naomi Shihab Nye
from Words Under the Words

IMG_6661

Tagged , , , ,

Letting My Belly Be

image1I have a confession. I have spent most of my life trying desperately to conceal or minimize my belly.

Even as a child, I had this little “pooch” that stuck out. I always took ballet and the leotards and tights dug their way into that pooch that wouldn’t budge. I wished on eyelashes that I would wake up with a perfectly flat, no, perfectly concave stomach. I would stare at myself in the mirror, sticking it out, sucking it in, pulling it in, flattening and spreading it with my hands as best I could – then I’d pinch all the belly I could muster. Oh, how I hated that thing.

As a teen I learned about sit-ups and crunches and ab-work and pilates and when I would put on my leotards I would hope in vain that the 25 sit-ups I had done the night before might have made a difference. More and more I started taking things into my own hands to rid myself of this abomination. I was taught, over and over again, that this belly just needs to go away. I so strongly felt that I needed to make it disappear, and then everything would be alright.

I went through periods in my twenties where I felt skinny and the belly was a little less of a problem. On those days I felt happier, more confident. But then I would wake up the next morning with it protruding over my pajama bottoms. What pants could I possibly wear that were both cute AND would hide my body? What could I wear that would make me appear different? What would make me appear better?

Now in my early thirties my relationship with my body has changed, mostly for the good. I have bad days and I have good days – the good days mostly outweigh the bad. But still I sometimes see my reflection in the mirror in an exercise class and all I notice is that darn belly trying to peek out of my lululemon pants that were supposed to be so slimming, they were supposed to make it disappear, at least for a brief moment. The deep-set belief of belly being bad as a child still rears its ugly head as an adult.

Five months ago I kind of fell into a new yoga studio with brand new teachers and a brand new practice. I fell into this studio during a period where a lot of change was happening in my life – everything felt like it was uprooted and of course this made me go back to old patterns of disliking my body. I almost didn’t go to my first class there because I thought to myself “No Maggie, you’re dealing with enough change right now, why add more fuel to the fire?”

Fast forward to class last week when our teacher Mitchel instructed for the umpteenth time for everyone to let our bellies be long, to let them hang out. When we are on all fours or in crouching cat (think downward dog with very bent knees) he often instructs us to imagine our bellies swaying side to side like a cat. And whenever he does this I can’t help but smile and think of my cat Milo who flaunts his belly like it’s his job. If he’s flaunting his belly, why shouldn’t I?

But the point is that for these five months I have been instructed to just let my belly be. To let it freaking hang out. To forget about the sucking in, the flattening, the diminishing, the shortening, the crunching. I can let my belly be itself – that little pucker toward the bottom of my torso that has held on to so much guilt, shame, and pain for most of my life. And the more I allow myself to let my belly be, the more confident I feel and the more solid I feel within the structure of my own body.

I am discovering a part of my body, my belly, for the very first time. With fresh eyes and a loving and wholly accepting heart. I know that my belly journey will have its ups and downs but what a great sense of relief to put my hand on my belly and say to myself, for the first time ever, “Hell yeah!”

 

Tagged , , , ,

My New Years Wish For You

May Your New Year be Mindful and Delicious…

May it be filled with more love and less fear.May you continue to remind yourself “I am enough. I am good enough. I am doing enough.”

May you let yourself fall a few times, be a total mess, and grow from the process of putting the pieces back together.

May the choices you make serve you, as you learn to let go of what doesn’t.

This is my New Years wish for you!

I also hope you will join me as we embark upon the New Year together, starting this Monday January 5 … 
Sign up with me to jumpstart your New Year with tasty recipes, weekly intentions, and taking a look at the WHAT and WHY of what we are putting into our body. Click here to sign up and for details!  
Sign-up with a friend and receive a free phone consult! 
With Much Love,
Maggie
farbetterthingsahead
Tagged , , , , ,

A Feeling of Everything-is-alright-ness & Philadelphia Half Marathon

I think I love doing these races so much simply because they make me feel more alive. Just getting to the starting line last Sunday for the Philadelphia Half Marathon was a total well of emotions. And when I crossed the finish line … well you will just have to read on to find out what happens.

This year has been a big old wake-up call for me, most especially pertaining to my health.

I have been practicing yoga for nearly 15 years, teaching yoga for 8 years, and health coaching for 3 years. I am also a perfectionist. Or at the very least have some major perfectionist tendencies. This perfectionism has kept me from coming clean, or being totally honest not only with myself but with every person in my life – from those who I see on a daily basis to those who sometimes peek at my social media presence.

My migraines took a turn for the worse around Christmas last year. They became more frequent, longer in duration, and the symptoms were more severe than I had ever experienced. I was getting a migraine every 7-10 days lasting 2-3 days and, without fail, I could not hold anything down; vomiting regularly and spending at least a day recuperating and rehydrating. I am still dealing with these severe migraines but I have taken several steps to make taking care of them a top priority.

I didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on except for a select few because I thought admitting that I was having a challenging time meant I was a failure – in so many ways – including a failure as a yoga teacher and health coach. It hadn’t dawned on me that being truthful with myself and giving my health the attention it needed was a huge part of being the best teacher/coach I possibly could.

Since December 2013 I had to say no to so many people and events: from endurance events to weddings to teaching … it started to become so very apparent that my health was not in a good state. Not only that but I was not giving my health the attention it deserved.

I would be struck with a migraine and on top of the physical pain and discomfort I would sink into a state of depression. I am now learning to transition into migraine-mode with more forgiveness and compassion for myself. It’s is tough work, but I am learning to let go and let the migraine just take me into the migraine-state for however long it needs to process through my body.

So what on earth does this have to do with a half marathon? Well, I was hesitant to even sign up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. What if I got a migraine on race day? It was something I thought of every time I laced up my sneakers and went for a run. The list of what if’s ran through my mind endlessly. I finally came to peace with the fact that a migraine might happen on race day, but I also accepted the exciting possibility that it might not.

The very last run I went on before we left for Philadelphia, I said to myself “I’m going to run this thing” – that became my mantra and I visualized approaching the starting line with my friends and imagined what it would feel like to get back into doing this thing that makes my heart sing.

And guess what? I ran that thing! I got to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon and even set a personal best at 1:57:43. This was the first race for me in about a year which, if you know my history with triathlon and running, is a pretty big deal as I have spent the past 4-5 years filling my calendar with races.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 3.54.42 PMSo what happened when I crossed the finish line?  My eyes filled with little tears, I got that knot in my throat, and my heart swelled up. (I think I’m officially a “Finish Line Cryer.” Is that a thing?)

The days that I have spent on my couch in more pain and discomfort than I can come close to describing … those days have given me a greater appreciation for the days without a migraine. Where I am grateful just to toe the line at a race and be amongst the running community. Where I am grateful to share race stories with my friends, our teeth chattering as we make our way back to our hotel. Where I am grateful for that hot shower after a race, the water washing away the sweat and soothing my aching muscles.

It’s a feeling of lightness, of “everything-is-alright-ness” … and maybe migraines have given me more awareness of its existence.

PhilaHalfI am grateful for my experience with migraine. Migraine has given me a deeper understanding of debilitating pain and discomfort; it has given me greater appreciation for the days WITHOUT migraine – what a sweet blessing those days are; migraine has taught me to accept the help and support from loved ones when it is offered, and to ask when it is needed; and migraine got me to get my butt in gear this year to make my health a priority. We should never be so busy that we cannot take care of ourselves.

 

Tagged , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 138 other followers