How To Enjoy Spending Time At Home

I never thought I’d be actually writing on this topic… but the more people I talk to, the more this topic comes up. And I’d like to start by addressing the problem, the real elephant in the room: Most of us find being home uncomfortable because we don’t truly spend enough time alone with our thoughts.

Sure, things are scary with the actual virus and many people struggling to pay their bills and I by no means want to undermine the severity of these issues. But for 80% of us, the scariest part is the extra time our minds finally have to reveal in their true colors. Generally, our minds revert back to past traumas and how we handled those. While you may not be directly affected with the virus or financial stress, you’re most likely experiencing second hand anxiety by absorbing everyone else’s exhausting coping mechanisms spread all over social media.

There comes a point where it all becomes too much. You begin to sing someone else’s narrative to the point of not being able to recognize your own. And I want you to repeat this in your head immediately after reading because it’s important: We’re all doing our best to get through this unfamiliar occurrence. Just because others don’t agree with the way you’re handling your thoughts doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Trying your best, survival, and handling uncertainty are 3 separate intimidating experiences, do not feel bad for caring for yourself in a way that others may not necessarily agree with.

In the same breath, I’d also like to remind you that while the surrounding circumstance isn’t ideal, you don’t have to dread every moment of the day because the news tells to you. For some of my friends, they really needed this break from their busy lives as stress was beginning to manifest in unhealthy ways. For others, it may be a welcomed occasion to spend more time with their kids. It is what you make it, and how you perceive it to be will determine how you’ll walk through this season and every difficult one to follow.

This comes a bit more naturally for me as I’m a true homebody. I cherish time spent at home. My home is a cozy, spotless sanctuary that rejuvenates my physical and mental health. Every morning I look forward to a cup of coffee and a good book as if it were a therapy appointment. I put on headphones and tennis shoes to work out while jamming to an exciting playlist. I still get dressed in my self-appointed “uniform” of athleisure, even if I’m working from home.

So how can you possibly make the best of this time alone at home? Well, my first recommendation is to spend intentional time resting. Not on your phone, not watching tv, but like actual physical time to let your mind drift. If you’re the kind of person who’s mind spirals at the thought of “unstructured thinking,” then try a guided meditation to give it some direction. Before you can change those spiraling thoughts, quietly sit back and pretend the listening voice and the spiraling voices are two separate people having a conversation (because they actually are). Acknowledge that the spiraling voice is there, but know that you don’t have to give it the power to dictate your narrative. More in the book “The Untethered Soul” for this one!

Another recommendation I have, unsurprisingly, is to write in a journal. But not actually the traditional journaling we do in One Ray (which is quick and routinely), make this a special opportunity to go back through your mind and get thoughts out that are covered in cobwebs. I used to write fake letters to people who did me wrong (usually ex-boyfriends lol) and wouldn’t send them. If someone is stealing your joy simply by existing more than they should in your mind, time to either write a fake letter that never gets sent! Write it out, girl. Your mind is designed to come up with new ideas, not store old news. Write your fears, memories, your hopes and dreams, favorite quotes, favorite songs, and make it worth looking back over in 5, 10, and 30 years. I do that to my high school journals and crack up at things I thought were a priority back then.

Lastly, catch up with your family. This is something that was actually a wakeup call for me. Invite people you wouldn’t normally call out of the blue to a conversation of catching up on each other’s lives. This is something I’ve been really trying to do more in the past few months. Just about 2 months ago, my boyfriend and I hosted a small dinner party with my dad, aunt, uncle, cousin, and her boyfriend and honestly it was one of my favorite memories ever. Nothing big or exciting happened, just celebrating being together and laughing at memories was something to savor. I also feel like I’ve had more genuine, non-distracted conversations with my virtual patients or friends during quarantine because I suddenly don’t have a to do list of stupid obligations that occupy too much of my time for what they’re actually worth.

Chances are, we won’t get another opportunity to slow down. You can spend this time wallowing in the news, or you can use it as an opportunity for growth and re-acquainting yourself with your cobwebbed thoughts. The time will pass either way, how do you want to look back and remember this period of a collective, mandatory pause?

An Important Lesson from COVID-19

This week has felt like I’ve been carrying an extra 80 lbs on my chest… how about you?

This world wide slowing-down to save the health of our friends and family has been a bit of a culture shock. In response to that, I’ve been doing my best to keep things light all week on my social media to help bring some peace to those struggling.

But something in me also feels a bit conflicted. Now that I’m in survival mode making sure my finances and food supply is prepared, I feel a deeper type of empathy. For those who have lost people close to them, those who have gotten a life threatening diagnosis, who’ve survived through house fires, soldiers who suffer from a multitude of mental disorders, miscarriages, and a million others that they too, didn’t ask for. 

It puts things in perspective in my own life- my family is healthy, my bills are paid, and I’m safe in my environment… why do I so often take these things for granted during times of normalcy? And right now more than ever, I crave normalcy. We complain often about daily struggles, such as the wrong coffee order or a construction detour, but are those things actually a big deal? It’s not until we’re confined to four walls for an unforeseen amount of time that the answer becomes clear.

My hope for you during this time is that you take note of the small things you’ve accidentally taken for granted. Make no mistake, there is no judgement for those of you reading- we are ALL equally guilty of this. Notice the humans in your daily environment. Notice the gift of connection free from distraction that we currently have the chance of embracing. Notice the board games and past times that we usually “don’t have time for” because we’d rather be productive.

Most of all, notice that time passes very fast and in order to make a life worth living, we need to prioritize rest and quality time as much as hustle. If you’re gracious for this break from work, that means you’re burning the candle at both ends. It’s a small silver lining that so many of us are recharging during this unscheduled break, but we need to collectively do better when it comes to prioritizing rest.

I’d like to commend those of you who are taking up a new hobby or skill, but it shouldn’t take a worldwide pandemic to kick that childhood dream into action. As adults, its equally as important that we make time to play just as children do. Do you think you could squeeze in 1 hour of playing the piano or learning Italian during your regular work week? Yeah, probably. Do you think you could find 1 hour before the kids wake up for you to read or workout in your living room? I’m more than sure of it. 

You see, this break is a mind game that gives us no excuse not to pursue what we want, but it shouldn’t take this circumstance to get you to schedule time to play. The world needs more people who practice creative expression. It fulfills you and helps you to present your best foot forward, both to your work and  family. Both your work and family deserve the best version of yourself. In many cases, the decision you need to do to achieve that comes not from putting your foot harder on the gas, but from removing it completely.

May we never take a day of work, quality time with family, enough money to pay our bills, a trip to the gym, a morning out to brunch, a walk on the beach, a birthday party, or single piece of toilet paper for granted.

Xoxo Maria 

NEW JOURNAL RELEASE 1.8.19

The navy journal cover release offers a different look and feel to the traditional guided wellness journal with a more minimalist, gender neutral feel. The navy journal is composed of brand new quotes submitted by many different members of our community- how cool!

For those of you not into journaling or who just don’t think it’s for you, listen up…

Many people create guided journals (meaning each page is lined with prompts vs just a blank page) for the customer base of people who love to journal- simply put, I do not. That’s what sets the One Ray Journal apart from the rest. I took on the more challenging task of bridging the gap between traditional journaling and the kind of journaling I believe actually works in helping people achieve their health and happiness goals from the past 8 years of experience.

Traditional journaling includes writing down your feelings everyday. It takes time to put your thoughts into words and can include quotes, memories, emotions, and different quote- “girly” things like that. One Ray is not that at all- unless you fit the small group of customers I have who truly are into that kind of thing. And by all means, do what feels right for you.

One Ray is a daily habit planner / tracker that focuses on the 5 most important aspects of living a healthy lifestyle with fulfillment and enjoyment. It takes less than 3-4 minutes to jot down a plan in the morning or a reflection in the evening. It’s designed to pull you away from your phone and be mindful / present of your habits. For example, it can be SO easy, especially coming off the holidays, to forget that you accidentally ate 5 Snickers bars during a stressful phone call at work today. This journal is designed to get you in the habit of being present when faced with temptation. To focus on what brings you actual clarity and joy instead of quantitative numbers that may bring you down (such as weighing yourself everyday).

Each day we focus on 5 elements of physical and mental health that will hold you accountable for the steps it takes to reach your goal. Each Sunday, we both reflect on the past week and plan for the week ahead to feel strong heading into a busy Monday. What I love most about this formula is that you don’t have to be philosopher or super in touch with your emotions to find it useful- I have 6 men out of 150 current customers. All you have to do to find meaning and purpose in this method is to put the effort in every day. Often I get asked why I have such a positive and optimistic demeanor and I tell it like it is, I find deep meaning in the small things I do everyday. 

Journals will be available on my website www.mariafitnezz.com beginning @ 8 am on Wed, 1/8/20. 

Empowered Voice, Vegan Food, &… Rodents?!

This past Saturday was a whirlwind of a day! We’re talking a little wellness, female entrepreneurship, rats… wait, what? Let’s back track real quick.

I was invited to go to the Empowered Voice Event for podcasters and entrepreneurs in the wellness scene hosted by two women who started the Finding Your Shine Podcast. I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m., put on my Saturday best- a cozy, teal Loft V neck, a dark denim jacket, black Lululemons, and my super funky conversation piece- cheeta and polka dot Steve Madden kicks (picture included below to paint the full picture). I grabbed some coffee, tip toed past my sleeping pup, and left about 5:30 am for Columbus.

At the event, my intention in going alone was to make new friends. It’s all too easy to stay back in my comfort zone when I’m glued to a friend’s side, so this was done on purpose. I make all  decisions from an intuitive level (or gut instinct), and there was an open chair in the very front row, right behind a pole I’d have to navigate around. Still, my gut told me to sit there. I met 2 super nice women right off the bat- a wellness + astro coach and a vegan food blogger.

I absolutely love these kinds of events because, while initially uncomfortable, it makes me feel like I belong somewhere. Most everyone was a millennial paving their own path and career in this space- it’s refreshing to connect with others on a level that is unique to us.

We heard various keynote speakers and attended workshops throughout the day, some of which happen to include Lindsey Simcik and Krista Williams of the Almost30 Podcast, Katie Dalebout of the Let It Out Podcast, Ashley Koff, RD who has appeared on the Dr. Oz show and was nationally rated one of the top registered dietitians in the country!

Lunch was provided from a vegan/gluten free/paleo/keto friendly place called Rebol. We had the selection of rice, falafel or chicken, roasted vegetables, pita chips, and some unique and delicious sauces. They have way more options at the store- and we actually have it here in Downtown Cleveland, which I didn’t know but will definitely going to more often! We also were gifted various goodies and snacks from local healthy food companies in a recyclable Whole Food grocery bag. That’s a story for another day, so I will be writing a blog next week on an honest review of one of those companies.

At the end of the day, there was a Q & A session with a panel of 6 speakers. Nina and Liz, the hostesses, asked each one to share a piece of advice for all of us they wish they could tell themselves back when they started. I’d like to share them with you as I think they can be applied to your health journey just as much as your career…

  1. Ask yourself- If I felt fully enough by my own standards, what would I give myself the permission to do?
  2. Ask yourself- what would my high school self need to hear? That’s the content you need to create.
  3. To take a deep breath and know that you are in the for the long haul.
  4. Talk to those who you want to serve and ask questions, such as “How would I help an absolute beginner vs the place I’ve worked hard to get to?”
  5. Allow yourself to be human- be messy, ambitious, allow yourself to unfold, and prioritize rest.
  6. Be in now (act now), and think about it later.

There were so many takeaways that I wrote down in my journal, but this one was the most important to share with you! Okay, moving on.

While in Columbus, I decided to grab dinner with one of my best friends Rachel, who is in her second year of law school at OSU! She mentioned this unique multi-diet friendly restaurant right across from where she lives. It was her first time eating vegan food, and one of the few that there’s more options than just a salad and fries for me.

We walk into this hole in the wall place (which shall remain unnamed), and ordered our food. As we’re waiting for it to be cooked, one of the employees comes over to me and whispers “I just had to lock the door, we are closing.” At 5:30 pm on a Saturday? I immediately asked if we were in danger (as that’s always where my mind goes first), and she didn’t answer, so I started to get nervous just staring at Rach.

The next thing you know, right as I’m thinking the exact same thought, Rachel screams “What the hell is that!?!?”

A black rat with a limp rear leg is scooting from the door to the wall (it snuck in the front door from the street), but by law I think restaurants have to close if this occurs. The next thing that happened shocked me the most- nobody event flinched, left, or stopped eating their food. We were standing in complete terror of this Stranger Things 3-looking rat. The employee contained the rat and they reimbursed everyone in the restaurant, even those eating their food. In my honest opinion, I think the restaurant handled it in the most professional way and have to give major credit to them for not inducing panic. 

Rachel and I took off with our food back to her apartment, laughing our a$$es off about what just happened.

So what do all of the words in the title have in common? I experienced them all in a quick 20 hour day that ended with a good night of sleep in my own bed.

 

Journaling 101

Hello! Today we are diving into the true power of journaling and how not to overwhelm yourself with it! I don’t set rules for my own practice, however most topics fall within one of these categories. I would like to offer you a beginner’s place to start, whether you are new here or picking back up where you left off…

Meditation

Sometimes when I’m stressed, I can’t lie still and be “zen.” I usually practice this method when my subconscious is stirring with voices or conversations with myself. I mentally picture complete blackness and allow thoughts to float or pass through, as if they were a shooting star. I jot a few words about each thought down, non-judgmentally and completely unbiased. 99% of the time, the thoughts I write down trigger some form of emotional stress.  I don’t try to find solutions to these thoughts immediately, I let them take physical form off of my chest and onto the paper. Not all of them require an action plan, but for the ones that do, I come back to each situation when I am good and ready.

Dreams

Most things I have accomplished in my life has been thought of long before it actually happened.

A concrete example of this is: Recently, I was flipping through my June 2017 journal and found this elaborate plan that I completely forgot about, outlining what I would need to do to host a wellness event. This was before I worked on specifics with a business coach, before I was working full time at the location I currently am hosting the events at, and before I was ready to make it happen. The plan is an exact replica of what my “Maria Fitnezz LIVE” events have turned out to be (you can sign up for the free March event by clicking HERE). For you, it may be a big decision you are struggling with. Try writing it down with a pros/cons list or a plan, leave it alone for a few months, and see if it still strikes an emotional response when you come back to it.

Growth

Looking back on my journals from high school and college, I superrrr lacked confidence in myself in many ways. I wrote many encouraging self affirmations, something I don’t need to take time and write as often as they have become my primary, daily thoughts. I have naturally grown into a more confident person as a whole because I practiced and believed what I wrote to myself, even if I didn’t necessarily believe them back then.

Reflection

Close your eyes for a few minutes with no distractions. Think about your current life… self, relationships, spiritual, personal growth, financial, career, travel, enjoyment, health, stress, etc. Are you truly happy? Are you growing and learning everyday? Are you consistently stepping out of your comfort zone? Or have you settled? Do you feel stuck or unclear? What changes can you make to become a better version of yourself?

This exercise can be as light or heavy as you need, allow me give you a personal example. I have set a few specific moral standards myself to, in order to become a stronger version of myself. What I did with each of those standards was tie a goal to them, as shown below. I add or tweak every once in awhile as I get older, but they stand just as true today as they did 4 years ago! Here are my personal examples:

Say no to social obligations that would bring me less than a 9/10 enjoyment level.
Exercise 3x per week, no matter the type.
Stop eating meat and fish and replace with plant-based options.
Watch tv on weekend evenings only.
Read 12 books in 2019.

That’s all for now, hope this helps in your future journaling adventures! 🙂
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” -Mary Oliver

How To Feel Happier

Energized. Motivated. Optimistic. Compassionate. Less stressed. Content. Inspired. Grateful.

These are common answers from women I coach when picturing themselves “living their best life” as the kids say now-a-days. This blog is designed for those who are serious about making consistent habit changes to feel less stressed and more fulfilled each day.

I’m not here to tell you I’ve got this whole “zen vibes” thing figured out, however through much trial and error, I can genuinely say most of the time I am in an abnormally good mood and feel most myself in an optimistic, inspired, and energized mentality. Over the last few years, I have come up with a few simple ways to keep my mind in that creative space throughout the day. Here are a few examples to help paint this picture for you…

Morning routine

One thing I have stopped doing is going on social media right when I wake up. I have a relaxing morning routine that is non-negotiable. Being in a good mood starts with filling your mind with empowering thoughts to have the best day possible.

To do list

Do you ever lay in bed at night and go over the list you have to get done tomorrow? I keep a notebook next to my bed to write down under 5 items as a list to eliminate that night time stress. This way, I can focus better on fewer tasks and get a better night go quality sleep. There is something extremely satisfying about crossing items off as I complete them!

2 p.m. cup of happy

Coffee puts me in a great mood every morning as I’ve been drinking it consistently since I was 12 years old. I make a 2ndcup in the afternoon as it’s a natural caffeine boost and is something small to look forward to. A cup of coffee or espresso can be healthy to include in your diet without any pre-existing conditions, but always check with your healthcare professional before introducing. Whatever your version of “a cup of happy” is, try it out to make your afternoon a bit more enjoyable.

Good energy bubble   

This is a mental trick I’ve been doing since high school. When you are in contact with a damaged or hurting person who takes it out on you, try picturing yourself in an a bubble shield of good energy that the person cannot break through. The next time you are in a confrontational or uncomfortable position, picture that shield bubble around your whole body, smile, and tell them have a nice day. Your inner peace is too fragile for that nonsense.

Wash away the stress

I’m in this interesting phase of life where my mind and body are very active at almost every moment of the day. During the small gap of time between when my head hits the pillow and when I fall asleep each night, I picture my brain as the windshield of a car full of junk that has caused any type of stress throughout the day. I picture myself scrubbing the entire windshield one column at a time, washing away those stressors from the day.

I hope these tricks and tips help you maximize the joy and manage the stress more effectively each day. Life is too short to only feel happy on the weekends. 🙂

Challenge Chaos with Calm

 Picture this:

Waking up in your favorite vacation destination. Enjoying a morning beverage and a view of the beach during sunrise. No boss to answer to, no reports to review, no crazy drivers on your morning commute. All you can think is… wouldn’t it be nice to run away from my life for a little longer?

Maybe your home or work environment is not this serene, but you do have the option to create a mentality of sunshine skies and apply a sliver of paradise to your everyday grind.

Some people scroll through social media, watch TV, or roll out of bed and head to the office each morning. Personally, I take a mini vacation every morning by drinking my coffee slowly, reading something that inspires me, and setting my intentions for the day without distraction. I also envision my ideal routine I am working toward having one day, and recognize if I continue to use my lunch hour and evenings after my day job to focus on my side hustle, someday that can be made a reality.

What is an activity you can cut from your day that doesn’t positively push you in the direction of less stress?
What is a habit can you add to help you focus on a goal you are working toward?

For clients I have worked with in the past, it has been waking up 30 minutes early to workout, taking a walk instead of watching a TV show, and reading a book instead of scrolling through social media before bed. When I work 1:1 with clients, my concern is overall health. While the nutrition/training aspects are important to getting in shape, the mentality it takes to sustain this lifestyle is the foundation in building real, true self confidence.

While it is impossible to surround yourself with only butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows, you have the power to take the high road. To challenge chaos with calm. To remember that in the grand scheme of life, this minor happening probably isn’t worth losing your temper over. No one is perfect and I am certainly no expert, however I am learning that life isn’t that serious and as long as the humor can be found in any situation, you can’t lose.

So, whether you are stuck in traffic, dealing with an unpleasant customer, or handling hyper children, I encourage you to decide outside factors will not cause you to blow. How will you take a mental vacation today to end the day feeling satisfied and avoid burnout?

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my corner of the internet! I am a dog loving, coffee drinking, wellness enthusiast, and licensed physical therapist assistant who wakes up every morning excited help other women feel confident. It can feel exhausting if you are purely motivated to eat well and work out based on your physical appearance. My approach includes guiding women to live well based on quality of life inside instead of how their life looks on the outside.

So… the million dollar question. What truly does “living a healthy lifestyle” mean? To some, it may be working out 7 days a week. To others, it may mean a salad for lunch and a cookie for dessert. To me, it’s working out 2-3x per week, going on a run to relieve stress, sleeping in on Sundays, and Chick Fa La once in awhile just because I feel like it. I have successfully made eating well and exercising a priority for the past 6 years. I have developed the intuition to know when to relax and know when to grind. I can “fall off” the wagon for a week or two and get right back into it without even skipping a beat.

I don’t believe “harder, better, faster” is the only mechanism in which progress is gained. Maybe that’s my background in physical therapy speaking, but nutrition/training is only a fraction of good health. What about your mood on the commute to work each day? Your family? Social life? Meditation and prayer? Couldn’t you argue those aspects are equally, if not more important than the physical attributes that come with being an overall healthy and happy individual? Slaving over long workouts while feeling guilty for not spending that time with your kids or doing homework is not going to make you a better human, is not healthy, and does not align with my beliefs so you can take a quick sigh of relief! Quicker and more focused energy spent on workouts should be empowering instead of draining.

I have a passion for sharing honest, authentic, and simple tips to help you approach each day with a more confident and clearer mindset. Deciding to own your truth and inner goddess confidence will require up front sacrifice for a long term benefit. While it may seem like hard work at times, it is possible and undoubtedly worth it. We will provide you will framework, encouragement, and structure you need to achieve your goal.

Share with your friends on social media and let me know what you think! Have a great day.

Maria