Week Three

Week Three: EmPOWERment – Damn, look at me!

Complete the Weekly Reflection


Week Three, Mindset…(Eleonora)

By now you have all you need to hack the first secret of life. The first two weeks of the PoP gave you the tools to reduce your body’s propensity towards reactivity and increase your capacity to rest in the very midst of the craziness of life. Remember that these are tools, which means that they are just like kettlebells: they strengthen your muscles only if you lift them! Fortunately for us, just a few minutes of the exercises I suggested will get you to feel more emotionally resilient. You should begin noticing a difference within 2-3wks of daily practice. And just in case your mind pulls you into all-or-nothing thinking by telling you that either you are going to do this perfectly and all the time or it’s all lost, remember that life is all about creating new habits: slowly, over time, and as best you can, inviting (not belittling! 😉 yourself into the practice of practicing–because there is nothing but practice! Practice is both the way and the outcome. Practicing gets us to more easily practice what’s good for us more of the time. 


And now we are ready to tackle the second secret of life! Resting feels better than stress, but connectedness, love, and joy are what fulfills us. Being less reactive opens up the possibility of feeling connected, loving/ed, and joyful, but true physical and emotional well-being depend on opportunities for the latter. We are social beings down to our very cellular and emotional functioning, and so we need to care and feel cared for to be well. Starting this week we’ll talk about how to do just that! While we need each other to hack this second secret of life, we have direct control only over ourselves. Thankfully, there is a lot we can do to foster our connectedness and lean into community.


This week’s focus is “emPOWERment”, so we’ll begin by cultivating a little self-love! This practice is like dessert, it’s quite sweet and enticing. I’m going to offer a couple of versions of it below, but you can “bake” it in any flavor, so after you get a feel for it, feel free to craft your own.


Our nervous systems respond physiologically in almost the same exact way to experiences as to imagination (just imagine in detail sucking on a lemon and notice what happens to your salivary glands!). While we can’t live exclusively off of imagined love or connections, much of our sense of well-being comes from an internal knowing that we matter to others. This “mattering” to others leads us to feel that we matter, period–which is another way to say that it leads us to love ourselves. You might think this is an abstract concept. But it’s not. This inner knowing that we matter is a neurological capacity built across numerous micro-experiences of love and connection throughout our lives. This means that it’s a capacity we can both foster and strengthen. 


And the best part is that knowing that we matter and that we are loved provides us with an infinite source of confidence and energy. You can’t find an investment with a better return! So here are two short exercises you might try, both based on the much researched “loving-kindness” practice, which has been found to impact our brains in very good ways:


  1. Audio: LKM by Eleonora Bartoli
  2. Video: LKM by Sharon Salzberg


There is nothing magical about the phrases these two examples use, the point is to offer freely given good wishes, with no expectations or strings attached. So feel free to create phrases that resonate or structure the practice (length and format) in any way that feels right to you!


Week Three, Movement…(Pamela)

By definition, a push up is a strength based exercise. You’re likely wondering why I am bringing up push ups when our focus is emPOWERment? I’m temporarily moving push ups to be a power based exercise, at least for a moment. Here’s why… It doesn’t matter if you’re doing traditional push ups off the ground, a version of a modified push up, or some more advanced variation, being able to do a push up typically feels empowering! In fact, I hope doing any of the workouts at UA feels empowering to you. Exercise is not easy, it shouldn’t be. You might have less challenging days but generally the program you follow should challenge you. The reason it doesn’t get easier is because as you change and get better (more fit, stronger) you push yourself to either lift heavier weights, do a more challenging variation, or complete more reps or rounds. You might not knowingly do this but I know some of you know that you have certainly been encouraged to try and then moved into that mindset on your own!


I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, ‘We are our own worst enemy.’ Talking to yourself through a workout in a negative tone or commenting that you should have been able to do more isn’t as helpful as you might intend. More importantly, once finished a workout – I hope you congratulate yourself with significant praise. The reality is most folks are not doing the things you are doing at the consistency in which you complete them. Take a moment and say to yourself or even out loud, Damn, look at me! You deserve it. 


Let’s shift and talk about power based exercises themselves. If you’ve ever wondered what constitutes a power based exercise, think about the ones that you would not be able to do well slowly. Power based exercises are the movements that are done with a degree of speed and explosiveness. Consider kettlebell swings, snatches, any type of jumping like deep in and outs or box jumps, push press, burpees, and more. If you were to do these exercises slowly, the movement itself would likely fail based on the weight you are using or it would turn into a strength based movement which is done slowly and under control. 


Week Three, Mess…(Pamela)

Last week’s exercise was to make one adjustment to your nutrition by focusing on one meal to be more supportive of your goals or to eliminate one less supportive food. The goal behind this is to have you change your connectedness to food in general as it relates to what your goals are. When you spend significant energy completing your workouts it is helpful to spend equal time focusing on nutrition when trying to reach your goals. 


In a deliberate effort to not over complicate the simplicity of what nutrition can be, our task remains the same this week. Where is one place you can make a slight adjustment to be more supportive of reaching your goals?


What can be helpful to think about when you are ‘in the kitchen’ remember that recipes can be a framework. If there’s a recipe in one of the recipe packs that looks good to you but you prefer a different lean protein or vegetable, do some experimenting and make the change. It is one way to take a solid recipe and make it several different ways!