Easy tips to help you lose weight @commdiginews #exercise #weightloss #healthtips

Read my latest submission to Communities Digital News: 4 simple tips to start losing weight

BETHESDA, Md., June 28, 2014 — Overweight and unfit Americans know they are fat. They must, because memberships to gyms and fitness centers have reached 54.1 million, which represents a 6.4% year-over-year increase for the past five years.

Yet, this increase in gym memberships has not correlated with a decrease in the percentage of overweight and obese Americans. Those numbers continue to grow. According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, roughly 69.1% of American adults 20 years and older are overweight or obese, an increase of almost 15% in 2 decades.

Weight loss is not easy nor is it cheap. Not every American can afford a gym or studio membership considering the average cost of gym membership hovers around $55/month. Yet, even those who can squeeze fitness into their budgets are not maximizing their return on investment. Read more.


Why I’m Doing Another 30-day Bikram Yoga Challenge and How I Prepare and Remain Motivated

I am embarking on my second Bikram Yoga challenge. The first challenge was almost two years ago in February 2012, just a few months after I started my yoga practice.

Me in Bikram Triangle

Me in Bikram Triangle

To be honest, I never imagined I would be motivated to do another challenge. The first challenge was very beneficial but also tough on my body, mind, spirit and family life. Although I felt accomplished in a mindful and self-aware sort of way upon completing the first challenge, my ego also said, “Well, you did it. You proved you could do it. No need to do that again.”

So I held fast to that egocentric attitude until recently when I started feeling defeated by life and overwhelmed by my responsibilities.

You see, in addition to having a regular 9 to 5 job, I have been writing non-stop on my other blog for 21 months. Over 320 blog posts in 90 weeks. That’s almost an average of 4 blog posts per week.

What I write on my other blog does not result in any sort of financial compensation. None. My compensation comes from the comments and messages I receive from readers who have been positively affected by the message I attempt to share and disseminate, a message related to an understanding of what domestic violence and intimate partner abuse looks like when perpetrated by emotional abusers. Sociopaths and narcissists.

Yeah, it may sound dramatic if you aren’t already familiar with my other blog. And you would be correct. Abuse and control is all about drama. My postings and writings are filled with reactions to that drama, and composing those reactions have been 100% draining. So when October began, I wasn’t surprised when I found myself in need of a break from my other blog and the emotions and feelings it stirred in me.

But a funny thing happened after I made the conscious decision to take a break from writing: I started to feel guilty!

I felt guilty for leaving people hanging. I felt guilty for not being as active as I once was. I have made some incredible friendships through my other blog and value all of the feedback I receive. Actively responding to comments and e-mails was never something I had to struggle with doing. But I found myself struggling, and that made me feel guilty.

Fortunately, I had enough humility (Thank you, yoga!) to reach out to my friends for support. Repeatedly, I received the same message: “Paula, take care of yourself. Put yourself first.”

It took a while for that message to sink in, but once it did, I immediately thought another Bikram Yoga challenge would be just the thing to get me out of my self-imposed slump. I was thinking about doing a challenge on my own but was thrilled to discover the studio where I practice is facilitating a challenge between now and Thanksgiving! (There are no coincidences, I’ve learned.)

I started my second challenge at Bikram Yoga Rockville on Wednesday, October 23 which ends the day before Thanksgiving. (The studio’s challenge actually started on Monday, October 21, so I have two doubles to look forward to completely. I’ll save those for the end.)

Like my first challenge, I had to prepare. Currently, my office is in my home with a more open and flexible schedule than I had during my first challenge. This simply means I have more options for which times I can attend class: mornings, afternoons or evenings. But a more flexible schedule doesn’t mean finding and maintaining my motivation is any less challenging.

Below are some ways I prepared and remain motivated.

In preparation:

  1. Setup a calendar reminder for each day, so I remember to eat. (I sometimes get really busy during the day and forget to eat lunch. If I wait too long, I can’t eat until after yoga. (Bikram instructors recommend that you eat a light meal 2-4 hours prior to your daily practice.)
  2. Get a pedicure. (Hey, it’s important to have clean and polished feet to present to your fellow yogis. Plus, it helps to keep your mat fresh.)
  3. Bathe my mat. (It’s kind of like a clean sheet thing–it just feels good and it’s healthy, for you and your mat.)
  4. Buy tea tree oil and a spray bottle. (A tea tree oil and water concoction will be sprayed on my mat after each use; it’s a green and friendly solution to keeping your mat fresh.)
  5. Pack a clean change of yoga clothes and towel in my car for spur-of-the-moment decisions to go to the yoga studio.

To remain motivated:

  1. Let as many people know your intention to complete the challenge.
    The more people who know, the more people will be asking you every day, “So, how many days are left?” You don’t want to answer, “Oh, I quit.” Do you?
  2. Get a challenge buddy (or 2 or 3).
    This can be done directly or indirectly. If you are new or simply don’t have friends at the studio, pick someone’s name off the board and follow/stalk his/her progress. It’s definitely psychological but effective.
  3. Don’t neglect your family.
    If you are married, in a partnership, or have children, they’re probably your biggest supporters. So, even when you are feeling tired or overwhelmed by the yoga, do things with and for your family. They’ll be more inclined to maintain their support throughout the 30 days. And remember to say, “Thank you, Baby, for respecting how much this means to me.”
  4. Keep talking about how the challenge is making you feel.
    Even if you feel like crap some days, share it. You would be surprised by how many people will tell you, “Well, just don’t stop. You’re so close.”
  5. Be lazy, eat right, drink lots of water, and sleep when you can.
    Do I need to explain this one? :)
  6. Encourage other yogis in the challenge.
    Through encouraging others, you encourage yourself and the entire room.
  7. Keep smiling.


© 2013 Paula Carrasquillo and A Yogini Transformed.

Paula Carrasquillo is an active yogi, author, and advocate who has lived in numerous watersheds throughout the United States, including Colorado, Maine, Maryland and New Mexico. She currently lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Paula is passionate about her family, friends and the motivational and brave people she meets daily through her online writing and social media exchanges. To Paula, every person, place, thing, idea and feeling she encounters is significant and meaningful, even those which she most wants to forget. Follow Paula on Twitter and check out her other blog.

Why Bikram yoga? Because it heals!

I’m often asked two questions from friends who discover that I practice Bikram yoga:
1. How did you get started with Bikram yoga?
2. What keeps you going back to Bikram yoga?

How did you get started with Bikram yoga?

bikram yoga poses found here: http://www.bikramyogainstitute.com/Once upon a time, I was a runner. I ran track in high school and earned an NCAA letter running cross-country in college. (Go FSU Bobcats!) As the years progressed, my knees took a beating, and I always HATED running during the winter months. Then in 2002, I was in a car accident and tore my medial meniscus in my right knee. I underwent arthroscopic surgery in 2004, but I never fully recovered my mobility 100%. Needless to say, I stopped running and resigned myself to low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and elliptical workouts.

Unfortunately, nothing I tried ever gave me the same “high” as running. I longed for something that challenged me and provided the same physical and mental stimulation I had once taken for granted with running. I began reviewing various workout options offered at health and fitness clubs: Zumba (too much like a stage performance), Pilates (too expensive), karate (too much competition from my son), boxing (too dangerous for the longevity of my face as it appears today), spinning (too much emphasis on the lower body), swimming (too much body hair to worry about), etc.

But I NEEDED to do SOMETHING to get fit before 40 and feel good about myself again. So, I started doing what anyone would start doing in my situation: I Googled. I did a simple Google search for “exercises that heal the body,” which resulted in a list of meditation-related sites. As I read through the pages, I refined my search to “exercises that use meditation and movement to heal.” From these results, I learned about Tai Chi, Qi-Gong (pronounced chee-gong), and yoga. This lead me to Bikram yoga, which lead me to Bikram Yoga Rockville just around the corner from my house.

Why do you like it so much? What keeps you going back to Bikram yoga?

Where to begin…

  1. The runner’s high – Yes.
  2. The obvious effect on my body – There is no doubt that I have lost weight and toned up tremendously since starting my practice 6 months ago. Who would walk away from an exercise that gives them the runner’s high AND helps them lose weight without actually running?
  3. The increased energy upon leaving the hot room – After spending 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees, you would think a person would be so drained and lethargic that he wouldn’t be able to think of anything other than relaxing. Bikram yoga has the complete opposite effect. I leave the room feeling more alive and energized than when I entered. I may be thirsty but not ready for a nap, that’s for sure.
  4. The dichotomy of the experience – The postures and breathing exercises build upon each other consecutively. Although I feel like my sides are breaking in half-moon pose (#2 in the image above), I am feeling euphoric 45 minutes later coming out of my first camel pose (#22 in the image above). There is a distinct yin/yang or pain/pleasure moving between the agonizing task of holding a position and the peaceful release and “letting go” of savasanas (periods of rest and stillness).
  5. The people (yogis and trainers) – There is nothing more enjoyable than to share a “workout” with good people, really good people.
  6. The healing qualities – Each posture works a different muscle group, body part, and/or organ system. From stretching my muscles to working to balance my digestive tract, together the postures heal me. How have I been healed? I’ll be writing a post for each of the 26 postures and breathing exercises over the next 60 days (that’s an average of a new post every 2 days). Each post will detail the touted benefits and the actual benefits I have experienced.

Until then!

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