love

CHOOSE TO BE THRILLED!

bugs-office-spiders-arachnids-glasses-secretary-paperwork-spectacles-creepy-crawlies-ladybug-background.jpg

We have the choice to change our minds when we can't change the situation we find ourselves in. Instead of perceiving a commitment to finish the work as dreadful anxiety, we could live in these moments with a sense of thrill.

Embrace the challenge of being creative, thus tapping into the unborn parts of the mind that are not conditioned to perceive external events habitually. 

The main difference between anxiety and excitement is the energy behind these feelings; one is driven by negative thoughts (anxiety), and the other by positive ones. All of the unnecessary suffering in our lives is self-created, and so our happiness. 

When we are able to perceive reality with an inner “eye” that can’t see itself, our hearts will have become the source of unconditioned joy. 

 

*** Passage from the Fit for Joy book.

With warmth,

Valeria

TRYING TOO HARD

IMG_4029.JPG

I now see that my "fit and healthy" lifestyle was made up of a series of these kinds of experiences. I was very disciplined, but it was turning me into the opposite of a loving and happy person. I came to realize that the pursuit of a fit and healthy body could only be a positive thing when we’ve already recognized our spiritual hearts as perfectly fit to provide us with a life of happiness and peace. In other words, although a fit body can improve our health, earn compliments that boost our self-esteem, and give us a temporary “high” of accomplishment, without a content mind and joyful heart, our happiness won’t last long. Our health and feel-good states depend on external conditions and constant hard work, which can propel us into an endless, destructive cycle.

*** Passage from the Fit for Joy Book

ON SELF-RESPECT

IMG_4096.jpg

I can confidently say from my experience with fitness that the motivation to have a healthy body should not be based on fear, but on love. One of the hardest negative mental habits to break is the constant need for the approval of others. This habit can propel us to physical and emotional abuse, as happened to me, by over training our bodies to be accepted and complimented by others. The more I abused my body at the gym, the more people praised me, and the more I was motivated to keep doing it, to the extent that I even signed up for competition shows. As you can see, this was not that different from a drug addiction. My lack of self-respect and self-love was great enough to keep me open to doing anything that gave me that “approval-acceptance” high. 

*** Passage from the Fit for Joy book

ON SELF-LOVE

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 3.31.01 PM.png

SELF-LOVE

From many insights and lessons, I’ve learned to have self-love without selfishness; to recognize which behaviors are motivated by love rather than fear; how closely connected my past was to my present; and that love, joy, and peace are at the core of our true nature in relating to others and the world. My new spiritual understanding not only gave deeper meaning to my life, but has also caused external changes I could never have imagined. 

 

** PASSAGE FROM THE FIT FOR JOY BOOK

THE SPACE TO BE YOU 

fields-nature-summer-mill-grass-road-beautiful-meadow-nice-greenery-countryside-green-clouds-peaceful-path-field-fence-lovely-sky-calm-hd-pictures.jpg

"Bravo’s dusty roads were still paths for bull-driven carriages, which squeezed between the houses in a cloud of dust. The carriage conductor would scream loudly to give directions to the bulls. He wore leather pants and a leather jacket under the fierce sun, and whipped the bulls with two dirty ropes. From far off, I could hear the loud creaking of the carriage’s dry wooden chassis carrying large bags of beans and corn.

The sound grew louder and louder as it approached our street. It was a bit scary at first, but it always became the attraction of the week. I would rush to the window, covering my eyes with my fingers so as not to be blinded by the dust. I couldn’t open my mouth to laugh or scream either, unless I wanted to have dust for lunch.

I still enjoyed the passing of the giant, creaking carriage dragged by bulls and whipped by a wild man. Bravo seemed not to care about its bull-driven carriages making loud noises and clouds of dust. It was simply the space that allowed a bull to be a bull and a man to be a wild conductor."

 

*** Passage from the Fit for Joy book

Warm wishes, 

Valeria

LISTENING TO THE HEART WAS MY ONLY CHOICE

forests-birch-trees-autumn-crown-deciduous-forest-leaves-sky-heart-feeling-blue-hd-wallpaper-widescreen.jpg

"After days dwelling on my detached feelings and memories of the past charged with discontent, there was a moment of silent melancholy and then a question. This question would change everything: “What would you do if you were still alive? 

I knew the answer well.

I’d listen to my heart..."

 

*** From the Fit for Joy book.

Much Love,

Valeria

LOSE WEIGHT - FIND JOY

flowers-nature-koffee-nice-food-day-flower-wallpaper-samsung-1920x1080.jpeg

Below you will find a sample of the diet I used to be on for about two years before I competed with WBFF – World Beauty Fitness and Fashion. This dietary system combined with weight lifting can be of great help for losing weight, staying in shape, building muscle and strength, but as I have mentioned throughout my Fit for Joy book, this type of regiment mainly focuses on the physical body, which is only one aspect of our being. We are so much more than just our bodies! The approach to fitness that works the body in isolation from the mind and our spiritual hearts is not what I do today, professionally or personally. My work at the moment is about integrating conventional physical fitness with spirituality.

These meal suggestions are only to illustrate what my personal journey was like. They are not approved meal-plan recommendations.

- BREAKFAST Option One

8 oz cold water with a probiotic supplement

1 tablespoon matcha green tea + ½ lemon

7 walnuts

1-2 whole eggs

-BREAKFASTOption Two

1 salmon filet oven roasted with coconut oil

5-10 walnuts

Steamed Kale

- BREAKFAST Option Three

Steel-cut oats – almond milk – berries

Green tea

 

LUNCH

Any lean meat of your choice: white fish (sole, cod, flounder, or halibut), grass-fed red meat, tuna fish, wild salmon, chicken breast, turkey breast, sardines in water.

Eat with steamed veggies or a green salad from the list.

Avoid sauces; instead use olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and avocado oil for salad dressing.

Snack - Best Options

1 tablespoon spirulina shake with ½ oz. frozen organic berries and a teaspoon of coconut oil

Green juice – no fruit added

Protein shake – whey protein

Nuts (walnuts, macadamias, pecans, Brazil nuts)

Raw coconut flakes

Celery, cucumber, or carrots with almond butter

Kale chips or dried seaweed

Raw cheese (unpasteurized)

Sweet potato chips (homemade)

 

 

DINNER

The same options as lunch

*Important – Avoid:

Alcohol

All sugar and sweets

Regular fruit except for berries and green apples

Starchy carbs such as pasta, bread, rice, wheat wraps, white potatoes, etc.

 

DRINKS

Water

Kombucha drinks or tea

All kinds of tea, but especially green tea, no sugar added

Coffee - no sugar added

 

OTHER DETAILS

Sleep 8 hours or more per night

Drink a gallon of water a day as well as green tea

All vegetables and fruit should be organic

Adding lemon to your meals is great – it alkalizes the body

You can have a small piece of dark chocolate 85% cacao or higher, but not every day

Use stevia powder as the only sweetener

 

*** From the Fit for Joy book.

With warmth,

Valeria

 

 

CALLING FOR FITNESS AND SPIRITUALITY

forces-of-nature-spiritual-christ-jesus-love-1920x1080.jpg

My six-o’clock client was not a regular. A fellow female trainer had had to leave due to an emergency, and asked me to take her client that day. I filled in for her as a substitute trainer.

Steve was a fifty-seven-year-old businessman who seemed to be under a great deal of stress. I could tell this just by being around him for a few seconds. He gave me a serious, almost intimidating impression, and breathed heavily. We were introduced in a hurry by the other trainer as she ran out the door.

Steve looked at me with an expression of quiet impatience. He was in good shape and looked strong. His chest area was well developed, leading me to think he must have been lifting heavy weights for years. I could tell he was very proud of his chest.

Before I could ask him about his training routine, he gave me the workout for that day. His program had only four exercises: barbell bench press (155 lbs — 12 reps), incline chest press (50-lb dumbbells — 12 reps), floor push-ups (20 reps), and incline dumbbell flies (20 lbs — 12 reps). If you understand something about muscle-group training, you will notice that Steve’s workout had only chest exercises.

I looked at his program and said enthusiastically, “Great! Let’s do it!”

I set up the barbell and began the first workout on the list. I was ready to spot him if he needed it, standing close to the bench behind his head. As he ended each rep, I cheered him on by saying things like, “Great job, Steve. You’ve got it! Nice work! Keep the energy! You can do it! Wonderful! You are doing it right! Don’t give up! One more left! Nicely done!”

In truth, I was talking to myself. I needed to hear my own enthusiastic words, given the day I’d had. I noticed something unusual when I took a quick glance at Steve’s face to make sure he was okay. He was looking at me and smiling as he lifted the heavy weight. He’d finished lifting without saying a word, with a smile. I didn’t exactly understand the reason for his happiness, but I was glad his serious and stress-filled expression was gone.

 

Considering he was a new client, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to begin a conversation about my early insights into fitness and kindness. Nonetheless, I asked him trivial questions, which he didn’t answer. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy interacting with others when I’m with them. I like separating things: There is a time to be fully alone, and a time to be fully with others. In a trainer/client relationship, there are moments to focus on the exercise, moving and breathing properly, and also moments when we can talk.

 

Steve’s behavior was making me feel incredibly awkward. Concerned but trying to stay cool, I followed him around with my cheerful chatter. His behavior didn’t change. The studio was quiet; there were only a few people working out with their trainers. No one seemed to notice how uncomfortable I was around Steve.

Once again in my life, I felt stuck. I didn’t want to stay there, but I couldn’t leave. I tried to stay calm and do my job well.

We went through the workouts. In the end, Steve was sweating, still with a smile on his face. Before we said goodbye, he asked my name again, then mentioned that he liked my training style. He also inquired if I could train him from that day on. I politely explained to him that my schedule couldn’t fit another client.

In truth, if my heart had not begun to guide me toward fitness and spirituality, I would have accepted his offer. 

*** Passage from the Fit for Joy book.

Much love!

Valeria Teles

 LIFE OR BODY TRANSFORMATION?

flowers-garden-flower-rural-bird-field-rose-hd-quality-1920x1080.jpg

Diana was next. We met at five in the evening.

She came in ten minutes early and hustled past me on her way to the locker room, saying, “It’s been another busy day. Give me the hardest, most beast-mode circuit you’ve got, Valeria.”

My energy was very low at this point. I really didn’t want to train another client, especially a high-energy person like Diana. She was thirty-four years old and exercised every day in the morning before she went to work. Her jogging sessions lasted an hour. She usually met me in the late afternoons for her weight training.

Today was an upper-body session. While she lay under a sixty-five-pound loaded barbell, doing twelve reps of military presses, I asked her, “What is the most important thing in life to you, Diana?”

She was so focused on her reps that I wasn’t sure she’d heard me. As usual, she was having a serious conversation with the barbell. We didn’t tend to talk much. Her workout mood had always been to get the job done as well as possible and leave the studio.

A few seconds later, she put the bar back on the rack. The next exercise was ab work, and she knew it. We had the circuits programmed in advance. She moved briskly to the yoga mat on the floor to do a set of twenty reverse crunches.

Her breathing was heavy. The circuit was intense. She was never happy with anything light or easy. I was still waiting for an answer to my question as I kept track of the number of reps, but I didn’t ask it again.

On the floor, while doing a quick stretch - bending her knees close to her chest while keeping her legs together - she said, “The most important thing to me is to keep moving forward through the days. When I wake up in the morning, I have a to-do list in my mind. I just go through it naturally. It’s a clear, focused, and precise daily plan I accomplish by the end of the day.” She finished her answer by the assisted pull-up bar, after fifteen reps.

Diana had been moving fast for the last thirty minutes. She performed all her exercises with the same focus and precision as she checked off her to-do list.

“Do you like your job?” I asked.

She was so focused on her spider plank ab work that her favorite movie star would have gone unnoticed had they walked by us. Sitting on the mat, wiping her face, she said that she got her job done, made great money, and was proud of herself. She worked out hard in one of the best fitness clubs in New York, and could afford my high personal training fees. She laughed and added that she ate out all the time, traveled, went out with friends for drinks, and that serious relationships and love were too complicated to give attention to.

You know that feeling when there’s nothing you can say to someone because they’re too busy listening to their own thoughts? That’s how I felt.

After we finished the workout, I reflected on how Diana’s life was not that different from her to-do list. It was programmed. She’d been in a cycle of living according to rehearsed habits, and her life had turned into a running race with no finish line or winners, an existence driven by nonstop actions. There was no space left to even think about love.

Diana followed the exercise program and ate clean while training with me. She achieved the fit and athletic look she wanted in three months. Her body composition transformed, but I wish her life had, too.

 

*** Passage from the Fit for Joy book.

Much Love!

Valeria Teles

FLAT BELLY ONLY!

flowers-white-artistic-touch-photography-beauty-yellow-black-closeup-nature-jasmine-flower-wallpaper-desktop-1920x1080.jpg

My next appointment was with Destiny at noon.

She called to say she would be almost twenty minutes late. I stared out at the street from the studio. There were many things going through my mind that day, even though my feeling of unhappiness was not connected to any of them. It was cold and windy outside, and I expected Destiny to come rushing in any minute.

Destiny was one of the most cheerful clients I had. She always went straight to me with a big smile, and gave me a tight hug and a kiss before we started training. She was a mother of two kids, a schoolteacher, and was overweight. Destiny was a high-energy woman with a very unusual fitness goal: to lose belly fat only. She trained with me three times a week.

When we met two months ago and I asked her about her fitness goals, she told me her husband would love to see her with a smaller belly, wearing the new pink swimsuit he’d bought for her this summer. She shook a colorful water bottle and took a sip, adding that she knew she was a bit overweight, but she liked her voluptuous body—except for her belly fat. Her husband had said all she needed to do to look great was lose belly fat.

It was not the first time I’d heard this kind of fitness request from a client, and I was used to it. I proceeded to explain to her that spot reduction was not possible with exercise and diet, and that while working out with me, she’d lose fat in her body overall, not only around her belly. Despite this, she was excited to get started. I don’t think she understood me.

We started training from that day on. She was doing great. Destiny had lost almost twenty pounds so far.

After a long, melancholic wait by the window, she came rushing in. She looked serious and worried. It was the first time she didn’t greet me with a hug and kiss. I hoped nobody had died.

We sat down on the sofa in reception. I faced her, but she looked down. She said she’d wanted to meet me in person to say something important. She didn’t want to send an email.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

She said she couldn’t do it anymore; I had helped her reduce her belly size and feel better, but she’d noticed that her thighs and buttocks were shrinking, too. It wasn’t what she’d expected. She was looked down the whole time, about to cry.

I listened to her quietly. I didn’t have much to say.

Destiny thanked me, then stood up and walked away.

 

*** Passage from the Fit for Joy book.

Much Love!

Valeria Teles

 

 

OUR OWN CREATED PRISON

Given how exercise, diet, and even therapy can become traps for a painful emotional reality, it’s crucial for us be aware of the fundamental causes of our suffering. Think of how we can consciously or unconsciously believe we are not good enough or not worthy of happiness. We then begin to work hard in pursuit of this worth. As a result, anything external that gives us the illusion we deserve happiness for our effort will also become our own created prison. This cycle of sustaining habits out of fear makes exercise and diet or whatever our external source of happiness is into negative forces, thus compounding the root problem as we live for our bodies and for conditioned emotional stability through abusive mechanisms. This can cause disharmony within the heart, a state of mind where true happiness cannot exist.

Much love! 

Valeria  

To be healthy is to be loving.

ESCAPISM & FITNESS HABITS

The links between a painful past and fitness became clear to me after a period of major inner turbulence. I knew that most compulsive behaviors had their roots in traumatic experiences, but I never connected my obsession with fitness with lingering inner pain from the past. I believed I was a strong person who had overcome pain because I had a fit and healthy body to prove it, as well as a life that seemed to be driven and built by authentic and exciting experiences. However, the truth was that my fitness habits, to a great extent, were escapism.

Much love! 

Valeria  

To be healthy is to be loving.

PAST: "LESSONS OF LOVE"

Bringing back our traumatic past experiences is one way to understand the pattern of our limited view of life, especially a spiritual one. When we learn to reinterpret hurtful past events as “lessons of love” in the sense of recognizing that everything that happens to us is an effect of a cause we have created ourselves. It took the Buddha’s teachings of karma for me to understand my own life and mind. However, it’s my belief that we don’t have to be Buddhists to see how painful past events can turn our present lives into a nightmare when we view them as purely negative.

Much love! 

Valeria  

To be healthy is to be loving.

DIET OF THE HEART

Many of us experience the feeling of compassion when preparing or eating animal flesh, and some even reject meat at childhood. This is not an accident. We all live in different spiritual realities and levels. What is interesting is that those of us who have had profound spiritual experiences often don’t trust them to be real. I believe this is because we are too immersed and attached to our physical reality. We are basically in denial of the interconnectedness of our reality.

The way I see it, food cravings (though certainly not all of them) are directly connected to anxiety and fear. This may be because the mind has associated happiness with pleasure, and since pleasure and pain are closely related, suffering becomes a tasty experience. The body, on the other hand, craves food and sex for self-preservation and perpetuation, not pleasure. It’s interesting to notice that only the heart is rooted in love and kindness. It has no cravings that can cause us suffering. The heart cares for our being as a whole, and also for others, thus happily and healthily embracing everything as a big family.

Much love! 

Valeria  

To be healthy is to be loving.

MOVING WITH CONTENTMENT

When you’ve found joy in your own heart, you’ll have a much different experience when exercising. There should be a body and mind connection where you are in the moment; there is enjoyment, no fear, or less concern with your physical health; you are simply respecting the natural law of cause and effect; satisfaction before, during, and after your exercise sessions; you feel anxiety-free about your next workout.

 Exercise is a great habit to cultivate, but should not be an obsession. There should be no expectation to get specific results apart from improving your overall health. There should be no guilt when you don’t exercise. The main motivation is to live longer and be physically healthy so you can do more of the spiritual work on yourself and help others to do the same.

My advice is that you find your own unique way to connect with that deep feeling of love while moving your body.

Much love! 

Valeria  

To be healthy is to be loving.

UNHEALTHY MOTIVATIONS TO EXERCISE

Although physical health is an important asset, the reasons we engage in exercise can still become unhealthy. Being mindful about your motivation for hitting the gym or engaging in any physical activity is helpful if you are looking for spiritual growth and self-knowledge. Be on the lookout for these unhealthy motivations to practice exercise:

·      The need to be thin to feel good every day.

·      Pressure to look good and lean to attract a new partner or to please an existing one.

·      Feelings of insecurity about a specific body part.

·      Fear of not being loved by others if you are out of shape.

·      Guilt for not exercising every day or more often.

·      To release stress caused by a changeable situation.

·      To release anger.

·      To show off, get attention, compete, or provoke envy in others.

·      To fight or to intimidate others.

·      Out of pure habit and without enjoyment.

·      Shame.

·      Pressure to be a role model in your family, work, town, or society.

These are just some examples. Keep in mind that behind all these reasons to work out, there is fear, and it is fear that makes them unhealthy. 

Much love! 

Valeria  

To be healthy is to be loving.

LET'S BE HEALTHY TOGETHER

If you are like me, someone who can’t stay away from physical activities, integrating fitness and spirituality is essential. How many of us have struggled to answer the question of how to take good care of our bodies, but not fall for preconceptions of physical attractiveness and health? The answer can be both very simple, but highly complex and paradoxical at the same time. However, the closer we live close to our spiritual hearts, the less we tend to engage in physical activities purely as beautifying or self-cherishing methods, even when these activities promote good-looking bodies, health, and higher self-esteems. At this point, we are wiser, joyful, and peaceful enough to work on our bodies, so we hang around longer to support others with our virtues. 

Much love! 

Valeria  

To be healthy is to be loving!

A "HEALTHY" DISTRACTION

Fear and insecurity can turn physical fitness into an addiction. While most of us consider the pursuit of physical fitness to be a great habit, for me, it was a painful cycle disguised a healthy practice. The more unsatisfied I was with myself, the more strenuous, restrictive, and consistent my exercise and diet became. Looking back, it’s clear to see that dissatisfaction, not lack of health, was what propelled me to dedicate more than twenty years of my life to fitness. I strongly believe that the reason fitness and fit people are so popular is because most of us are attracted to the idea of having a “healthy-physical distraction” for our inner conflicts. Although it is true that exercise and physical attractiveness can improve our overall health and lift our self-esteem, to use these methods to hide our pain can also result in increased, unnecessary suffering. I don’t know anything healthier than having the courage to dive deeper into our own hearts for answers.  

Much love! 

Valeria  

To be healthy is to be loving!

EXERCISE THE MIND FIRST

The pursuit of a fit and healthy body can only be a wonderful thing when we’ve already recognized our spiritual hearts as perfectly fit to provide us with a life of happiness and peace. In other words, consider that a fit body can make us smile more often for all the compliments we get, improve our health, and give us a temporary “happy” feeling of accomplishment. However, without a content mind and a joyful heart, this feeling won’t last long.

Since our health and feel-good state depend on external conditions and constant hard work that can propel us into an endless cycle, my proposal is to reverse this; to work on our minds for a more stable feeling of happiness rooted in kindness that can then result in a healthy and fit body.

What do you think?   

Much love!

Valeria

TRULY STRONG

In one of my “fitness role model” training day, I was climbing a high set of steps outdoors in an intense workout session. Many people passed by me, including an overweight mother who was having a hard time carrying her baby down the steps in its stroller. I passed her at least three times as she struggled to get down, but it never occurred to me to help her. All my mind could say was that by passing her as fast as I could and as many times as possible, I would inspire her to engage in exercise so she could lose weight and be healthy. Later, a couple went by me and called me strong and courageous. Had I actually been strong and courageous, enough to be listening to my spiritual heart, I would have stopped to help the mother and her baby. Yes, I would still be exercising for enjoyment and physical health, but I would be motivated by love and compassion. It would have been an action not from “look how good I am,” but “here I am and look, someone needs help.”

Much love!

Valeria