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The Power of Now: Relationships

Crush-Fitness-Power-of-Now-Relationships
“Love is being.”

 

If you have been practicing the small steps from the first PON article you may find that you have been able to achieve some small pockets of peace, or “no-mind”, as Tolle calls it. You are also probably noticing that while you can achieve peace when you are alone, being around others or handling situations that involve other people, has made maintaining your peace very difficult. In this article, I will go over 5 pointers that relate the Power of Now into your relationships.

 

  1. “Listen to accept, not to judge.” You’ve probably heard the phrase: listen to understand, not to respond. That concept is problematic. If we are listening to understand, and we cannot understand the other person, then we are still in conflict. When we listen to accept, there is no need to understand. Next time that you hold a conversation, enter it after clearing your mind. If you have done rehearsing, abandon it. The only way to have an honest and present relationship is to empty your mind and listen to accept. Once you have done this, responding will not only come more naturally, you will also help draw the other person deeper into the present moment. Presence inspires presence.  If you cannot make such changes to personal relationships at first, try with simple encounters, like with the barista or the cashier for example. The only way to achieve success in relationships is to abandon drama and abandon conflict. 
  2. “Love is not the opposite of Hate.” Most relationships are deeply flawed. They rely on a cycle of positive and negative polarities. The negative side, hate, can manifest in many forms: possessiveness, control, withdrawal, unspoken resentment, the need to be right, insensitivity, self absorption, manipulation, anger, unconscious revenge for past pain inflicted by a parent or other person, the urge to argue, criticize, judge, blame, attack. The positive side, often mistaken for “love”, is a very intense illusion of wholeness and purpose, and it can often feel so overwhelming the rest of the world is drowned out. However that same positive side has an intense neediness and energy of unease. The positive side feels wonderful but never leaves lasting fulfillment.  If in an instant “love” can turn into a savage attack or dreadful grief, was it truly love? True love, creativity, and long-lasting fulfillment come from a deep inner presence. They do not come from another person or thing. True love can be felt if another person is also deeply present. What most people categorize as “love” is only people mistaking the positive side of the polarity cycle.  If your “love” has an opposite, then it is not love but a strong ego-need for a more complete sense of self. If you think I am wrong, picture the time of heartbreak that was so gut wrenching you didn’t know who you were anymore, and tell me that what you had was true love.

  3. “Playing the victim.” Believing that your past is more powerful and influential than your present is victim identity.  If you are in a relationship based on polarities and your partner fails to meet your needs, or rather the needs of your ego. You will see feelings of fear/hate arise. When this happens most people blame their partner as the cause of these fears. You then project this pain outwards toward the other person. This will hopefully cause them to change their behavior so your pain is not triggered. As you can see your partner is not causing the pain, but only bringing it out. The more exposure to the person there is, the more this happens. That is why after the honeymoon phase of romantic relationships, people find so much pain and unhappiness. The pain/pleasure cycle is an addiction. And just like any other addiction, it begins with pain, and ends with pain. The only way to release yourself from the cycle is to abandon the victim mindset. Only you are responsible for your pain, and the only way to dissolve it is to go deeply into your present moment and release all of the past and future. In releasing all of your fear; you realize that you are not your pain. You are a human being, in the being of now.

  4. “What is Love?”. Love is not exclusive. It does not make one person special. Exclusivity is not true love but love of ego. The intensity of true love, however, can vary. Love is not given, but reflected. Love is the sun, accessible to anyone. Truly feeling love turns you into a mirror, reflecting the warmth of the sun onto those around you. Even in addiction relationships, there can be moments of true love in things like physical intimacy, witnessing something grand, death, serious illness, etc. In these moments your ego and mind are silenced and your being is so present that true communication can occur. True communication is being completely present together. It is the realization of oneness. This realization is love. When this subsides, mind identification returns, pain returns, and you lose yourself again. You become a mental image of yourself and start playing games and roles again to get your ego needs met.  You are no longer a human being but a human mind playing out a drama called “love.”

  5. “Giving up the Relationship with Yourself" “Love yourself!” “The most important relationship is with yourself.” You see these kinds of quotes everywhere, but there is a flaw in pursuing a relationship with yourself. Being able to be at ease with yourself is important. Because if you are not, you will search for a relationship to cover up the unease, and then it will reappear in the relationship. Only when it does you will hold your partner responsible for it. Being at ease with yourself only comes about if you accept your current moment in its entirety. Why do you need to have a relationship with yourself to do that? Why not simply just be yourself? When you attempt to have a relationship with yourself you create two parts to yourself. The “I” becomes the subject, and the “myself” becomes the object. It creates mind duality and unnecessary complexity. If you are present in the moment you become yourself. The “you and yourself” are merged into one being. This means you do not objectify yourself. You don’t judge yourself. You don’t hate yourself. You are not proud or disappointed in yourself. This is all because the self is removed. When there is no self, you don’t have the need to defend, protect, or apply any resistance to the moment anymore. When you have reached enlightenment, or true “presence”, the one relationship you give up is that with yourself. You no longer need it.  You can just be. Once you have given that up, all your other relationships will be love relationships.

 

Ask yourself, “Do I experience peace?”  If you still experience unease in your life, why not try? Why not chase peace? It may not feel natural at first to forgive yourself and those around you by letting go of the past. It may not feel natural to give over to the present moment and abandon conflict. It will be a slow process, and remember from the first article, it’s not serious business. So laugh, forgive, and most importantly, be.

The Power of Now: Managing Stress and Anxiety

Crush-Fitness-Power-Of-Now-Stress-Anxiety
“The mind is a wonderful tool, but a terrible master.”

What if I told you that you have the power to overcome stress? Situational stress and anxiety* seem to be ever present in our lives. In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle refers to most people as “unconscious.” This means most people are not awake in the moment and instead are ruled by past occurrences and possible future outcomes.  Here are five simple things you can do to access your power of now in your daily life….

 

 “Watch the thinker.” I’m guilty of overthinking to the point of mental breakdown, even though I’m just sitting with my cat on the couch. When we let our thoughts run wild, it can cause turbulence in our lives. This affects how we treat others, what we are able to accomplish in a day, and the outcome of our reality. Often the hardest thing is to realize that most of our thoughts are overthinking a past situation that is, well, past or a future life that won’t ever exist. Next time you feel your inner energy start to leave a peaceful place, whether it’s first thing in the morning, or in the midst of a “crisis”, try this exercise.  Don’t repress your thoughts. Don’t psychoanalyze them. Don’t feed into them. Just let them exist, but don’t identify with them, and then ask yourself are these things actually in my present moment? If they are not, you will notice them pass like clouds in the blue sky of your mind, and it won’t seem so scary anymore.  It’s just you and your cat after all.

 

“Accept, Change, Leave, or Suffer.” When you find yourself in a present moment where there IS a reality you are not ok with, there are four options you have:

    • You can accept it. By accepting, you have chosen to surrender to the present moment. Resistance to what is, will only bring suffering.
    • You can change it. If your present reality is absolutely unacceptable, make the change after you have accepted what happened, and apply those changes so it does not happen again.
    • You can leave it. If there is nothing you can do to change the situation, and you cannot accept it, then the only logical option is to leave, everything else is insanity.
    • Or you can suffer. People chose to suffer only because we have convinced ourselves that it is normal. So next time you find your present moment unacceptable remember: “Accept, Change, Leave, or Suffer.”

     

    Complaining ≠ Therapy. People often feel that getting in a good vent session with their friend or mom often helps them blow off steam. But it is important to be mindful that excessive complaining about a situation can often make us identify with that part of our “life situation” and give it power over us. When we complain about something we solidify its place in our mind, and may create more stress than before. Often situations can be handled much more easily if just taken care of by using the four steps we talked about before. Once handled, we can move on without creating a story or drama around it.  It may feel unnatural at first, but you’ll find the power in just taking the moments in as they happen and not holding onto them.

     

    Letting Go of Time & Your Problems. I’m not implying miss your 2 o’clock business meeting, or any “clock time”, but rather let go of “psychological time”. Psychological time is that which does not exist: regrets of the past and fears of the future. The only time that really ever exists is right now. Often we live our lives as if we are on an adventure trying to “make it” or arrive somewhere or attain something. In doing this we miss out on the miracle of life unfolding right before our eyes. We may experience the now in fleeting moments with nature or big events, but then we spend days or years in-between holding onto moments long past or reaching for things yet to come. Ask yourself if you feel like you’re waiting for something. Are you waiting for a man or woman to give you validity? Money? A Job? An event? Do you think these things will bring you worth or fulfillment? “Salvation only exists in the Now, it does not ever exist in the future. Presence is the key to freedom.” When situations do surface in your now, you will be able to handle them with clarity.

     

    Forgiveness & Laughter. Awakening from being “unconscious” or breaking an obsession with psychological time is not serious business or perfect business. When you catch yourself falling into old patterns of negative thought and life patterns, it is important that you do two things. You must first forgive yourself and then you must laugh. If you find yourself being serious about all this, it’s just your mind trying to make another problem out of the situation. Once we remove ourselves from our drama, it is easy to see how funny it all is. Applying these two concepts to other people will create much more ease in your life as well. We are all humans dealing with the same human conditions.

    You may have noticed these tips echo the same point: Your power is in your now.

     

    *DISCLAIMER: In this article I am in no way implying these tactics are a way to cure MEDICALLY diagnosed anxiety or other mental illnesses. I am talking about situational anxiety, stress, sadness, anger, etc. that we all deal with. If you feel like your situation is out of your control or ability, please talk to someone who has the legal credentials to diagnose and help you. <3

    Hashtag YOLO

    Crush-Fitness-YOLO

     

    If you’ve spent any time around the Crush community, you’ve probably heard it more than once. My first introduction to Ben when I came across one of his “LET’S DO THIS” Tumblr posts that ended with a very unironic #YOLO. It seems to have become the Crush battle cry. We rally at the call of YOLO. I’m not sure where or why it started, but we certainly do love it. We talk about eating an extra large cheeseburger with a pint of ice cream for dessert and call it a YOLO meal. We decide to try to increase our deadlift weight because YOLO, then celebrate our success with our fellow Crushers. Whatever we do, we throw in a YOLO for good measure. But is it just a funny calling card? What exactly does YOLO mean to Crush?

     

    YOLO. You Only Live Once. In most circles, it’s used to justify doing something that’s arguably not a good idea. But when you break it down, it’s really surprising that YOLO isn’t the motto of everyone interested in health and wellness. So I’m going to challenge you to rethink what YOLO should stand for. It can be so much more than just a funny hashtag.

     

    You only live once…
    … So you should enjoy the pizza & beer at your friends watch party without any guilt.
     
    … So it’s okay to skip the gym to hang out with your mom while she’s visiting for the week.
     
    … So you shouldn’t waste precious hours of your days meticulously tracking, weighing and counting every bit of food you eat.
     
    … So keep yourself hydrated & adequately fed.
     
    … So don’t waste your life punishing yourself when you fall short of your goals.
     
    … So make sure you are fueling yourself with nutrition that helps your body run on all cylinders every day.
     
    … So take every opportunity to grow and become stronger.
     
    … So let your body rest and recover when it needs down time.
     
    … So take advantage of your workouts to improve the quality of your overall health.
     
    … So establish habits that will keep your body and mind strong for as long as possible.

     

    Crush-Fitness-YOLO

     

    You only live once…
    So lift heavy.

     

    BUT You only live once…
    So don’t lift too heavy.

     

    Crush-Fitness-YOLO

     

    You only live once…
    … So don’t settle for “good enough”.
     
    … So don’t spend it hating yourself.
     
    … So don’t deprive yourself
     
    … So don’t underestimate what you’re capable of.

     

    YOLO is what you make of it. For me, it’s more than just a funny hashtag. It’s not an excuse to do whatever I want whenever I want. It’s not a whip driving me forward when I’d rather just take some down time. It’s a reminder that a healthy life is achieved when everything is in balance. Every meal is a YOLO meal. Every day is a YOLO day. It is a reminder that I want to live as long and as well as possible, so I’ll put a priority on my nutrition and my fitness. But I also want to live a full life, so I’ll sometimes choose things solely because I want to - because they make me happy.

     

    You only live once…
    So make it a good life.

     

    Crush-Fitness-YOLO

     

    The Basics

    Crush-Fitness-The-Basics-Olivia

     

    The Pieces To The Puzzle

     

    Bulking. Toning. Cutting. Lean bulking. Shedding fat. Caloric surplus. Body composition. Gains.

     

    These words and phrases circle your brain in an endless cycle, scrambled like pieces to a jigsaw saw puzzle you can’t quite put together.

     

    You’ve heard that blogger on Tumblr mention that she just entered her off-season bulk, boasting about how she can’t wait for all those extra carbs in her diet.

     

    You’ve been following your favorite Instagrammer who’s a day out from his body building competition and can hardly wait for those last few days of his cut to be over.

     

    You’ve watched video after video of Youtube vloggers’ high carb full day of eating clips and have nearly drooled over your keyboard at the protein cookies and nut butters that seem to work their way into their every meal.

     

    But now you’re left sitting at your computer trying to figure out what in the world it all means.

     

    Well, today we’re going to take it back to the basics, and by the end of this article, you’ll have all the pieces to your fitness puzzle sorted into a big, beautiful, and oh-so clear picture.

     

    Caloric surplus: Eating more calories in a day than you burn, thus resulting in weight gain.

     

    Caloric deficit: Eating fewer calories in a day than you burn, thus resulting in weight loss.

     

    BMR: Basal metabolic rate. The amount of calories your body burns at rest by carrying out normal bodily functions.

     

    TDEE: Total daily energy expenditure. The amount of calories your body burns throughout the day, taking into account things like work, walking, exercising, etc.

     

    Bulking: Eating in a caloric surplus and weight training with the goal of putting on muscle. Cardio is typically cut out, and some fat gain is inevitable.

     

    Cutting: Eating in a caloric deficit with the goal of shedding fat. Cardio is typically added, and some muscle loss is inevitable.

     

    Lean bulking: Eating slightly above maintenance with weight training and moderate cardio with the goal of slowly putting on muscle. While the timeline for muscle gain is longer than a more traditional bulk, the fat gain that comes with it is kept to a more minimal amount.

     

    Toning: A word used to describe changing one’s body composition—that is, putting on muscle, cutting fat.

     

    Gains: Achieving your goals, putting on muscle, hitting a new PR, finding a healthy mind set, and hopefully the new knowledge you gained from reading this!

     

    And hopefully now that some of the puzzle is starting to come together, you can continue on your journey, collecting new pieces each and every day!

    Managing school, work, and working out.

    First blog! Woohoo! Let’s talk about managing school, working and working out, since it’s often thought that you can’t do all three, but I’m here to tell you that you can.

     

    Since I was 15, I’ve been juggling two jobs and school. I never really thought it to be a big deal, since I primarily worked nights or weekends, and I went to school during the day. In high school, I played 2-3 sports per year, worked, and took all honors/AP classes, but I never really studied or devoted time outside of school to practice sports. When I got to college, I learned the hard way that not studying and not devoting time to working out didn’t end well. I had to learn a few time management skills, which to this day are the reasons I can juggle 3 jobs, working out, and a full course load.

     

    1. Buy an agenda book or a calendar, and use it. This will become your best friend. Write anything and everything in there. Appointment times, homework due dates, test dates, work schedule, meal prep, etc. You need to learn how to plan everything. The days of winging things are over. Then, from there, figure out when you’ll have time to eat (meal prep), workout, and perhaps even socialize.
    2. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. Procrastination is the absolute biggest “no-no” when you’re trying to juggle a million different things. If you get assigned a project or a paper that’s due in a month, do it as soon as you possibly can.
    3. Learn how precious time is, even the smallest amount of time. If you have an extra 20 minutes between classes that you would otherwise spend on your phone or scrolling through the internet, use those 20 minutes to start an assignment, or outline the assignment, or even just brainstorm what you’re going to do for that assignment. Utilizing these small chunks for time is what is key, in my opinion, when living a busy lifestyle.
    4. Get sleep. Sleeping is often the first thing to be neglected when you’re stressing out or you’ve got too much on your plate, and that should be the LAST thing that you neglect. You may think sleep isn’t as important as cramming for an exam that’s worth half of your grade, but multiple studies show that lack of sleep leads to declined test performance. It also leads to declined performance overall. Your motor skills will be compromised, your cognitive skills will decline, and you probably won’t feel like doing anything the next day besides sleeping. By not procrastinating, you don’t lose sleep, you perform better, and you’re not a crabby human.
    5. Plan a gym workout BEFORE you get to the gym. We’ve all been there when you just walk into the gym and YOLO it, and though it may work at times, it often leads to a crappy workout and you spend more time trying to decide what you’ll do next, and less time actually working out, and when your time is limited, that’s not something that is desired. Train smarter, not longer.
    6. Meal prep. Meal prepping isn’t just for those who are following a strict bro diet of rice, chicken and veggies, or someone in contest prep. If your goal is to be healthier, and your time is limited, MEAL PREP. Meal prepping is essentially cooking food in bulk, measuring it out (either with a scale or eyeballing it), and putting it away for later use. If you’re going to be out of your house from 7am to 8 pm, you’re going to want to take some meals with you, and that’s where pre-measuring and pre-making your meals helps tremendously (side note: Buy a cooler or a bag to take with you to carry your meals. Food-born illness is no joke, and it’s essential to keep cooked food cool). Meal prepping also makes your food choices easy, so you’re not left with the choice of grabbing easy fast food or making food, because you already made the food.
    7. Make time to workout. Anyone who has a busy schedule doesn’t “find” time to workout, they make time. Whether that be early in the morning, late at night, or somewhere in the middle, you need to sit down and figure out when you will make time for working out. Personally, I’ve worked out at 5am, 11pm, and every hour in between, because that’s what my schedule allowed for that day. Remember, everyone has the same 24 hours. What you do with that time is what will set you apart
    8. Don’t forget about yourself. Living la vida loca aka juggling a million things is going to take a toll on your psyche, so every week or month, or whatever works for you, put aside a chunk of time for YOU. Take care of yourself, whatever that may be. Watch Netflix, go shopping, volunteer, play with your dogs, hangout with friends, call your parents, have a glass of wine or a slice (or 5) of pizza or cake or whatever fills your heart with joy. Do not forget about your happiness and do not forget to pause and take in the wonderful world around you.

    Strength Training Benefits

    Whether you are a male or a female or gender non-conforming, whether you are young or old, whether you are an athlete or a self-proclaimed couch potato, whether your goal is to become stronger, faster, or leaner, strength training is something you should do.

    Benefits of strength training:

    1. Your bones. We live in a culture where osteoporosis is extremely prevalent, especially in women. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bone steadily degrades, leaving bones to be thin, weak, and prone to fractures. Strength training increases bone mineral density, meaning it strengthens the bones, and makes them less prone to fractures.
    2. You’ll burn more fat with strength training than you will doing cardio. Strength training burns less calories while performing the task than cardio, which is often why cardio is assumed to be the “end-all-be-all” for fat loss, but that’s not the case. An increased metabolic rate after exercise is crucial for fat loss because it allows for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) to occur. EPOC takes place because your body needs energy to repair your muscles after you’ve challenged them. Studies show that a well-designed strength training program can elevate your EPOC or metabolism for up to 38 hours after the workout. Cardio does little to nothing to elevate your EPOC. Lifting heavy versus lifting moderate weight is much better for fat loss because it increases EPOC much more because it is a lot more stress on your body. A study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that individuals who dieted and lifted heavy weights lost the same amount of WEIGHT as individuals who dieted and just did cardio. But the weight lost from the weight lifters was primarily fat, while the weight lost by cardio queens was fat AND muscle. 
    3. You’ll get stronger. Everyone starts somewhere, and for me, that level of strength was equivalent to a 10-year-old child. I couldn’t do a single push up on my knees, I couldn’t chest fly 5 lb dumbbells, nor could I use anything but 5lb dumbbells for the first few months of strength training. But, with months of strength training, the body adapts, it gets stronger, and muscle fibers literally transform to adapt to your training. It’s a pretty cool thing.
    4. You’ll be happier and sleep better. Strength training (and most other forms of exercise) increases serotonin output in the brain. Seratonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation, sleep regulation, and appetite regulation. By regulating serotonin levels in the brain, the body reduces mood imbalances, sleep imbalances, and appetite imbalances. If you’re having crazy cravings, trouble sleeping and you’ve been moody, give strength training a shot and see how your body changes.
    5. You’ll strengthen neural connections. The brain communicates with the body via neural connections, which is essentially information being passed on through millions of neurons located not only in your brain, but your whole body. By strength training, your brain is sending signals to that muscle to contract or lengthen. By repeating this process over and over, through many training sessions, the neural connections between your brain and your muscles will strengthen, making you stronger and more powerful.
    6. You’ll improve your posture. With a sedentary lifestyle many of us live (by driving instead of walking, sitting at work instead of standing, and not moving for the majority of the day), our posture is going to suffer, generally resulting in spinal abnormalities and pain. By strength training, specifically the back and rear deltoids, the muscles become stronger and tighter, bringing the posture to a more upright position, alleviating the spinal pain often resulting from poor posture.
    7. You won’t be bulky. This is predominantly aimed at women who are afraid to strength train out of the fear of getting too bulky, and it’s a fear I once had, too. Getting “bulky” is extremely difficult for women, because it requires years and years of consistent training and diet, and the desire to get bulky. Unfortunately, many women who want to get bulky, find it very challenging and turn to steroid use to help them achieve their physique. If your goal is not to be bulky, but rather have a “toned” and lean physique, strength training is something you should definitely do, because women do not have the testosterone levels to become “bulky” and put on the amount of muscle mass men can.
    8. You’ll be more confident. Anytime you invest a solid amount of time in improving yourself, you’re going to be more comfortable in your own skin. Strength training improves health, improves physique, and improves the mental state, which results in increased levels of confidence. The more you do something, the more comfortable you are doing it, the better you get at it.