Melinda Armstrong

Eating With Your Eyes Wide Open…

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 10:28 am

It’s funny the things we don’t see.  I am fortunate to have the blessing of nearsightedness to remind me of how lucky I am to have contact lenses.  But isn’t it interesting that despite having crystal clear vision, too often much of what’s present right in front of us goes unnoticed?  This morning I woke up with an idea about weight loss and how so much of the struggle we deal with regarding weight issues has to do with what we do not stop to see.

When was the last time someone gave you something really decadent and yummy to try and you took it?  Was it a slice of pie?  A fresh pizza slice?  A piece of chocolate or a juicy mango?  Well, let’s not get into the good vs bad perception we have of any of these foods.  That’s for another conversation.  But think seriously about what you did with that yummy treat once you received it.  Did you look at it?  I mean, REALLY look at it.  Did you notice the glistening of fat, the oozing cheese or the crumbly crust?  If you didn’t, then you really missed out on something.

Eating is about so much more than the act of placing the food in our mouths.  It’s about engaging all of our senses in the process.  You smell, you see, you taste.  You feel the textured, you hear the crunch!  YES!  This is how we are supposed to be eating.  I know, I know you’re too busy to smell it, see it, feel it, blah, blah, blah.  But let’s consider the possibility that it is only when we do take the time to engage all of our senses that we can process our foods completely and let them nourish us as they were created to.

I am a weight loss coach.  That’s one of the hats I wear.  I do so because after my own weight loss journey I was inspired to help other people achieve success in that area.  I’ve learned a great deal in the process of helping people look at their weight.  Specifically, I’ve learned that the most important step is not examining food choices or exercise habits.  I have learned that the most important step is increasing personal awareness of how we treat ourselves.  How we eat is as important as what we eat.  No, successful weight loss is not likely to come about if we regularly consume large amounts of nutritionally poor food.  What we eat does indeed matter.  But, let’s consider the possibility that we would naturally shift to consuming more nutritionally supportive foods if we ate with our eyes wide open and with a greater sense of awareness regarding all aspects of the eating process.

That muffin, though beautiful and delicious, might not have to be consumed in its entirety.  Maybe a quarter of the muffin would give you what you’re looking for from it.  And when was the last time you allowed yourself to enjoy a serving of fresh anything: berries, veggies, sliced mango?  Try that today and notice how beautiful food is just as it came from the earth.  And what about actual homemade goodies?  Today I will be celebrating the birthday of someone very special.  I made one of my signature dishes: seafood pasta salad.  It’s so good!  To the birthday celebration I will bring that dish along with with a beautiful salad filled with an assortment of greens, juicy tomatoes, vibrant carrots, fresh apple chunks and crunchy almonds.  It’ll be topped with a raspberry balsamic dressing I make myself.  Good stuff!  There will likely be birthday cake at the dinner.  Will I push away the slice offered to me in protest, “Oh, no! Do you know how many calories are in that thing?”  I wouldn’t dare say that.  I intend to receive that cake and enjoy a portion (or all) of the slice given to me.  I will eat it with my eyes as well as my other senses, allowing myself to savor each morsel and bless the person who lovingly prepared it.

Food is meant for nourishment as well as for pleasure.  Let’s slow down today and enjoy every bite.

Today is a good day to do everything, eat, laugh, play…with our eyes wide open.

Peace & Blessings,

Melinda

(P.S. One of my favorite authors on this topic is Mark David.  He has written extensively about the “Psychology of Eating.” I encourage you to pick up one of his books if you are interested in learning more.)

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Thinking Out Loud…

In belly dance, career, exercise, fitness, transition, women on October 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm

This is true.  Each and every day, we have countless thoughts that go unspoken. Dozens, maybe hundreds.  I guess it depends on how much time we spend alone each day.  Some of those thoughts are around things we habitually do, say, think, etc.  And some are about things we don’t dare let ourselves speak out loud.  What if something bad happened in our thoughts?  I mean, have you ever just allowed your mind to go someplace you wouldn’t want it to go in real life?  Yes, and then you quickly say, “Erase, erase!!! I don’t mean that!”

What about those other fanciful ideas?  The ones that touch shadows of your wildest dreams.  What about those thoughts?  I have those thoughts.  Probably for as many years as I can imagine I’ve had certain private ideas about the life I wish I had.  In this secret world I danced.  I can remember being a teenager and rocking out in the privacy of my bedroom.  I moved like I was in Flashdance in my imaginary world.  Music has always had a way of transporting me to a place that just feels good.  You too?  At various times in my life I have envied everyone from Debbie Allen to the gym aerobics instructor just because they make moving look like so much fun.  What a life!  These were my secret thoughts.

Then I discovered belly dance at a little dance studio not too far from my house.  Oh YES!  I am a dancer.  Every woman who steps foot into Lotus Dance Studio has an opportunity to feel this calling.  We are dancers, indeed.  I love Lotus.  And my teacher there has been my mentor when it comes to belly dancing.  I adore her.  But, can I tell you, dancing is hard work!  Yes, it is fun.  But there’s a hell of a lot more to it than just moving to the beat.  Today, I have more respect than ever for the discipline of dancing.  Being in that space where I am free to move has allowed me to feel even more free to let my thoughts wander to lovely places.  And that’s when I finally voiced one of my biggest secrets out loud; one that was actually a very real possibility if I let myself go there.

I asked this question first in my mind.  I did.  I googled it, I toyed with it.  And I let it go.  “Naaahhhh, I’m too old for that…I don’t have time for that!”

Then one day my belly dance instructor out of the blue said to me, “Have you ever thought about teaching fitness classes?”

That was weird.  Not weird that she asked, but weird that I had.  It was one of those secret longings that seemed like a distant dream.  To make a sort of short story shorter, I decided to finally listen to that little voice.  My teacher’s and my own inner voice that had been saying, “You know you want to.”

I did want to.  And so here I am, re-inventing my life at 45.  Go figure.  Many people and circumstances have found their way into my world to help facilitate this new life.  It’s the most fun I’ve ever had, and possibly the most work.  But I love it.  And all it took was for me to finally listen to my own secret thoughts, say them out loud and say, “YES!”

~Melinda Armstrong

Voices With Purpose: Meet my new friend and fellow dream diva, Joan Cartwright

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm

“All the Joy that you can find is waiting in the magic of a dream…..”

~Joan Cartwright, DREAMIN’

This is the line I heard as I sat down to scribble this blog entry.

“Make sure everything you do means peace and joy for you…”

And she sings…

“Don’t stop hoping that happiness will find you….”

And in that moment, I knew…

God, I was meant to meet this woman.  If for no other reason than this moment when her CD (which she kindly gifted to me today when I purchased her beautiful book about her life’s journey) was playing in the background of my taps on the computer keyboard.

I am happy to say that my attitude when I attend networking events is that each person I encounter has a gift for me.  I know that I must study their faces and look into their eyes for the gift.  It might not present itself in the moment when I am with them.  The gift might surface hours (or days or weeks) after the first meeting.  Joan was different.  I knew the moment she stood to talk that there was something magical about her.

This woman has presence.  Not unusual for a Diva Songstress, I know.  However, I believe that if you put her on stage with 100 other Diva Songstresses, she would still stand out.  She is a woman who was placed here to be heard via spoken word, written word, and music.

And she speaks.  She said to me rather matter-of-factly while we chatted in the parking lot after the networking event, “You have nice hair, why don’t you take it out from under all that?” referring to my curly hair weave that saves me from the daily chore of curling my hair after the gym each morning.  “Just cut it off!” she told me – ME, a virtual stranger!  I had to respect her voice.  She is one of those women who will be heard, even if not obeyed.  I confess I contemplated her suggestion for a moment.  I’m not there and I felt sort of bad that I couldn’t just embrace that idea!  Damn, why don’t I just wear a flipping afro?  Black IS beautiful baby, right?  I’m not there.  She punctuated her recommendation by confidently stating that I, too, would be 60 years old some day.  This I took to mean that she believes I will eventually acquiesce and go weaveless and natural and short.  We’ll see.

Joan and I squeezed in a lot of sharing in the few moments we chatted in the parking lot.  We talked about being a musician, about how we treat (or mistreat) our bodies, and the collective mission of all women: mutual empowerment.  It was a rich conversation; one that I pray I have the opportunity to continue.

We all need women like Diva JC in our lives.  Her voice makes our voices stronger.  Everyone has a vision, yes?  Joan reminded me of my dream: to use my voice.  It must be her dream too.  And she lives it.  Standing up and anointing the group with the call to support and encourage other women, especially those who do not have husbands at home to support and encourage them, Joan let her truth out.  Joan dreams out loud.  She does the thing I believe we must all do.  We must take our dreams out of hiding, even if it means stepping gently on our friends’ toes.  But she steps on them with love.  Joan is the perfect kind of bold.  You listen because she is confident in her dream to use her voice.  She has something to say and to sing.  And she sings the reminder to us all…

“Keep on dreamin, cuz only they come true…”

I am Joan! I am!

Peace & Blessings,

Mimi

Joan Cartwright is a woman with a purpose.

She is the Founder and Executive Director of

WOMEN IN JAZZ SOUTH FLORIDA, Inc.

http://www.wijsf.org

Listen to her on Blog Talk Radio at

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/musicwoman