Updated usually on Mondays and/or Thursdays!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

ToT #3: Mind and Mat-ter


Nihao, mes amis! Let's start this post off with four different languages, bueno? After all, when studies show that a multilingual person's brain can even resist more successfully Alzheimer's Disease, pourquoi pas?

Today's post is all about exercise. Not just physically, though that's of course important. Today we're going to tackle both the mind and the body. Vamos!

Disclaimer: These are personal tips. Nonetheless--just because I can't guarantee you success doesn't mean they're not worth an attempt. After all, better to try and fail than to have not tried at all, non?

I try to look at the sunset everyday.

Sometimes I forget. That's true. But even on the most soul-dry days, when your heart feels like it's dangling on a fishing line sagging under the weight of all the frustrations/aches... there is something monumentally beautiful about looking up at the sky. This was my view a few days ago:

Wrinkles in the sky // cloud-studded twilight

What better way to remind ourselves of how ephemerally infinite we are? And yes, if you read last week's ToT, then this may sound familiar--that we are so tiny that it is wonderful; liberating; a blessing for wild-eyed adventures. But hey, repetition is another essential facet of working the mind. :)

The study I just linked to specifically delves into repetition in practice: practice, after all, makes perfect, as the saying goes. Which gives me a good segue...

This is elevate.

It's a game designed to help your brain practice until it's perfect.

If you have a chance, download it on your smartphone. It's free. I love the exercises it has. They target all areas of your brain, so you can be assured of a good mental workout. If you don't have a smartphone, fret not--these games aren't designed to relax your mind, so taking a break from technology can actually provide a much-needed reprieve for your brain. Everyone is so busy these days it's an epidemic.

Take a walk. Stroll. Smell the roses. If you don't have time for this today, what makes you think you'll have time for this tomorrow? Yes, be responsible, do your work, but it's not a crime to take a break once in a while. I'm saying this as much for myself as for you. Repetition to memorization, right? 

Rainy day stunners
Keep your mind sharp this summer--homework, projects, whatever it is, rock it. Watch some fascinating educational videos, like this one:

But remember that the mind is fragile and that it deserves care, too. So let's embark on this journey together for not only a sharp mind, but also a sharper love for your mind.


So: Pilates.

A mat, a big bouncing inflatable green ball, and a water-filled hula hoop
That above? Practically all the exercise equipment I own. But the beauty of pilates is that you don't really need anything other than a mat. I'm following Cassey of Blogilates' fitness calendars (you can download the beginners' calendar here), but if pilates isn't your thing, there are easy alternatives. I'm no fitness expert. We're going to have a more fitness-focused post soon, actually. But what I will say is that as long as you mix-and-match your aerobic and anaerobic exercises and remember to stretch, eat well, and sleep well, you're on a good track. I have kung fu and hiking (although I suck at hiking, and I will gladly admit that. How are you supposed to get past a hurdle if you don't even acknowledge that the hurdle exists in the first place?) mashed in with daily blogilates, so we shall what happens.

My personal goal?

To be able to complete the food baby without stopping by the end of the summer. Will I succeed? Who knows. But the point of fitness is not just to be healthier, but to have also grown throughout the journey.

If you're just too tired one day to run the mile, may I suggest a radical idea... dancing? (I'm not here to make you a bodybuilder, after all. I'm here to provide solidarity toward a healthier, happier lifestyle.)
Look at Koharu Sugawara. THAT is one passionate woman. If you need a good song to dance to, I've been listening to Tori Kelly's new album and the beat of her song "Expensive" is just wonderful.

Oh, and of course, don't forget to keep hydrated. I have a 48-oz water bottle. Bring your water bottle with you everywhere. At meetings, I find myself often bored, so with nothing else to do I just drink from my bottle. Pretty soon I'm out of water and my body is a happy camper.
I eat dumplings and noodles for breakfast. Is it a lot of food? Sure. But that's a Chinese thing, and I'm sure it's a thing in a lot of other cultures as well. Just remember to have a good balance. Veggies, fruits. You don't have to eat salads all the time (I personally detest salads. Once I texted my mom that I finished 1/3 of a salad plate and it might as well have been an April Fool's prank, she was so shocked), and you certainly don't need to frantically check and calculate the calories of every single meal. What's more important is that you are self-aware and educated. I'm going to try to incorporate more health-related tips in future ToTs so that we can go on this journey together. After all, I think fitness should be enjoyable, and that can absolutely be achieved without compulsively worrying about every little thing. I repeat this because I will never forget a class trip to the movie theater in seventh grade, when a girl in line freaked out over a 20-calorie candy bar. "I can't eat this! I'm too fat!"--this girl was at least 5'5" and looked not even close to overweight. My point is that I'm excited for us to tackle fitness together, but I don't want anyone to ever feel like it has to be a chore to keep you from "being fat." There is a way to be fit without falling prey to the echoing declarations of underweight/overweight/perfect weight/nonexistent weights.

Healthy body, yes. But also? A healthy mind. (Edited to add: I forgot to mention. There is a fantastic Youtuber I follow who posts lots of videos on salivating, healthy foods. This is her channel, and here is a sample video:)

I leave you with a picture of dumplings/potstickers. Yum.*

*A classic food that can easily be vegan. Versatile foods, versatile minds.

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