Autobiography and Memoir

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Writing a memoir is not the same as writing an autobiography book.


Here are the differences between them:


An Autobiography or Biography

This type of book presents a revealing account of:


- A person’s entire life.


- Their personal history.


- Their birth, youth, and adulthood, ending with old age.


- Their secrets, education, conflicts, and achievements.


- Their personal history recounted in chronological order.


Also, a biography or autobiography is usually written at the end of

someone’ s life. A biography can also be written about someone else,

such as a celebrity, important historical figure, famous athlete,

politician, or spiritual leader, among others.



A Memoir


- Any significant event or a series of moments in one’s life.


- A piece or timeframe of a person’s life.


- Though it can be about anything, it usually features an event or series of

events turned into stories that reveal a message.

- For example, it can be about the death of someone you loved, the

habits of your older brother, a trip to Europe, a spiritual insight, becoming

a writer, finding true love, or life on the beach.

- A memoir focuses on particular events that relate to each other in order

to reveal a life lesson.

Remember, a memoir should be interesting in itself, and should be about

your intimate, personal experiences.


An inspiring memoir is written like a novel, and should include these

important elements: Characters, Location, Conflict, Structure, Point of

View, Conclusion and Message.



Much love,

Valeria

THE RIGHT REASONS TO WRITE A MEMOIR


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There are many good reasons to write a book inspired by your personal

experiences. But there are also wrong reasons to become a writer.


Writing a memoir can be about capturing unforgettable memories,

sharing a life-changing experience, revealing a secret, or rediscovering

oneself. By having your experiences on paper, your book might have a

positive impact on someone else’s life.


HERE ARE SOME OF THE RIGHT REASONS TO WRITE A MEMOIR:


• Self-discovery


• To reveal a side of you no one knows


• To examine your choices in the past and their connection with your life today


• To remember the best shared moments • To share a life-changing experience


• To reveal your emotional truths


• To heal from your childhood traumas


• To show appreciation to someone in your life • To teach what you have learned


• To share your perspective about life


• Writing for your family and future generations


• You feel you have an important message to deliver


• To connect with people who share the same life experience or perspective.


• To feel good


SOME OF THE WRONG REASONS TO WRITE A MEMOIR:


• Revenge


• Wish for fame


• Wish for wealth


• Writing for others


• To show that your are smart and worth it


Much love,

Valeria



Sugar Cravings – Why We Crave Sweets and How to Stop It

This article first appeared on Sweetdefeat.

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The human body emits a lot of signals, and sometimes we can pick up on these signals to improve our health. However, sometimes the body gives off subtle, yet challenging signals that we tend to ignore or push aside.

In world of health and wellness, sugar cravings are one of the most subtle and challenging. Generally speaking, people get sugar cravings, act on it, and feel some guilt afterwards, only to repeat the whole cycle all over again. Sugar cravings have a way of getting to people at just the right time of the day, and while some people can make quick changes and overcome them, others need a bit more help.

Listed below is a detailed guide on what sugar cravings are, why you could be craving sugar, and how to potentially fix the issue with simple tips.

Why Do I Crave Sugar?

The human body craves sugar for various reasons, and generally each craving is different for each person. Your brain may experience an intense craving because it needs sugar for energy and to function properly. But beyond meeting a need, sugar cravings for adults tend to be habitual, rewarding, or even just physiologic. Let’s take a look at this with some of the reasons on why you crave sugar when you do.

Habitual

Your daily habits are formed deep within your brain, and while some sources may say that it takes 21 days to form a habit, the truth is any habit can form as long as the brain is satisfied with the end result. Certain neurochemicals in the brain can cause addiction to sugar, similar to that of illicit drugs, opioids, and alcohol. In addition, changes in dopamine receptors in the brain appear to have an impact on addiction to sugar, as described by a recent study on food addiction. Dopamine gets released by when you experience some sort of happiness and results in a feeling of euphoria. As a result of this hormone response, your brain will habitually desire sugar the way it does other harmful compounds like drugs and alcohol.

Reward Systems

Too often, adults looking to stay fit, get fit, or maintain any fitness at all use a reward system for motivation. Actually, a reward system is a great way to motivate a workout and push you to the next level. However, in the case of using sugar as a reward, this may not be the best idea. There is a lot of talk about how sugar addiction is similar to that of illicit drug addiction, and the following research findings may shock you. A 2007 study comparing a cocaine reward system and a sugar reward system showed that sugar can be a stronger draw than cocaine, even for cocaine addicts. The implication of this is that using sugary treats in a reward system is a bad idea. While a sugary reward system at the gym may seem harmless, the results are anything but.

Pathologic

The brain needs glucose to properly function, so it makes sense that the brain will crave sugar in order to get it. Though the body breaks down all carbohydrates into simple sugars, so you don’t literally need to eat sugar to feed your brain glucose, physiologically speaking, the brain could be craving this nutrient as a way to get what it wants, even if it doesn’t need it. Perhaps your blood sugar is low and your brain is asking for sugar? Your mind could be tricking you into thinking you need sugar when you really don’t.

What Causes Sugar Cravings?

It seems that sugar cravings are becoming more and more common in today’s world. Sometimes people call these episodes as being “hangry.” Rather than accepting that you are hangry, there is a chance that you could be having a sugar craving instead. What are some of the factors that are causing a sugar craving? Listed here are some potential reasons you could be craving sugar.

You Finished a Hard Workout

Working out does quite a bit to your mind and body, and for the most part you gain valuable rewards for your hard efforts. Many people are likely to experience a sugar craving following a workout, and often this may be after you had a personal best in a run, lifted heavy weights, or tried a new high intensity interval training workout. Whatever your reason, as long as you depleted the glycogen stores in your body, you are likely to be craving sugar to replenish this. This would be considered a pathologic or physiologic reason as to why you are having a craving, and it serves a valuable need for the brain and cells.

Your Diet is Not Right

There is no right or wrong when it comes to your diet, but if you are having sugar cravings then it could be due to a diet that is not optimal. If your diet already includes donuts, bagels, candy bars, and soda then chances are your sugar cravings are because of how you have been eating. The more you eat these simple sugars, the more your brain will want them, which can continue the vicious cycle of sugar cravings.

You Use Artificial Sweeteners

The artificial sweetener debate is starting to become clearer in recent years. The use of these alternatives to sugar may save on calories, but they trick the mind into thinking you ate something that is extremely sweet—far sweeter than sugar. For this reason, your brain will crave foods or beverages that are as sweet as what you just had.

It Has Become a Habit

Again with the habitual part. Consider the scenario where you grab a sugary coffee every morning before work at your favorite coffee shop at the same time of day. Now, your body adjusts to these cues. Every weekday morning, your mind will automatically write this into your daily routine. This is the quickest way to start a habitual sugar craving, and chances are if you were to stop going to get coffee, your brain would crave the sugar that you would normally have at that time of the day.

Common Reasons for Craving Sweets

Now that you have some information on what causes your cravings and why you are having them, now is the time to jump into some common reasons for craving sweets.

Poor Sleep Quality

A common reason for a sugar craving is when you have poor sleep quality at night. Typically, the body needs a certain amount of REM and deep sleep as a way to replenish the mind and body, but when you have inadequate amounts, your body is susceptible to craving sweets the following day.

High Stress

Another reason for craving sweets could include high levels of stress throughout the day. Typically, a little bit of stress in your day is considered healthy and necessary; however, chronic levels of high stress could lead to your sugar cravings increasing in intensity following your stressful event or day.

Meal Skipping

The last common reason on this list involves a common practice among people trying to lose weight. As a way to conserve calories for a future meal or to make up for being “bad” on a prior meal, some adults skip meals. While this seems logical as a way to prevent weight gain, skipping meals can cause you to have sugar cravings as a result. Generally, this is caused by reduced blood sugar levels.

What Your Body Could Be Telling You

Now that you have some information on what could be causing your cravings and why you may be having them, you should take the time to understand what your body could be trying to tell you. Here are a few examples of what your body could be trying to tell you about your sugar cravings.

Lack of Nourishment

Your body could be telling you that you need to get more nourishment for your brain and the cells in your body. If you take notice of this sign, there is a chance that your blood sugar levels could be low to the point that it is harming your health.

Sugar Addiction

Another signal your body could be sending is that it is in full-blown sugar addiction mode, and the cravings you are having are a result of sugar addiction. If this is a signal you pick up on, it could indicate that perhaps you do not need sugar, but rather your brain is demanding you to satisfy its yearning for euphoria.

Boredom

There is a chance that you could be having a sugar craving simply because you are bored. Are the kids out of the house today and you have no idea what to do with yourself? Well, if your sugar cravings are setting in when this happens then it could mean you are bored and having a craving.

How to Stop Sugar Cravings

Fighting and putting a stop to sugar cravings can be a challenge at start. Initially, you may notice that your cravings are in a vicious cycle that only causes you to crave sugar more often. However, there are some things you can do to set your body up for success. Generally speaking, making a modification to your diet is necessary to succeed. Consider reading our article on what to eat when you are craving sugar for even more suggestions. Here are some tips to help you to succeed in putting a stop to sugar cravings.

1. Eat More Fiber

Fiber is an underestimated ally that serves a valuable role in your health and wellness. High fiber intake tends to be associated with better colon and cardiovascular health, as well as a reduced risk of cancer and obesity. Unfortunately, the typical American diet is lacking in fiber. The average fiber intake for all Americans over the age of two is 16 grams a day, with women consuming about 18 grams daily and men 15 grams on average. Current guidelines recommend that adults consume between 25 and 30 grams of fiber every day. Fiber is a starchy substance that passes through the digestive system untouched, meaning that fiber is not processed at all in the stomach or intestine. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of the foods you eat and it can also help to curb cravings you have by keeping you full for longer. Consider eating foods that are naturally high in fiber—like vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains —to help curb cravings.

2. Consume Lean Protein

Lean protein options are beneficial for health for a variety of reasons. Eating lean proteins such as salmon, halibut, and chicken can help to fill you up at a meal and keep you feeling full for longer. This means that your blood sugar levels are better managed, which means a possible reduced risk for a sugar craving before the next meal. Include lean protein options as much as you can to help fight off your sugar cravings.

3. Drink Enough Water

Your body is mostly made up of water; it is the most abundant substance in your body by far, which means you need to replenish your water stores as much as possible each day. Many of the body’s processes are associated with your overall hydration status. In addition, the more dehydrated you are, the greater the chances that you will have some hormonal imbalance. Your sugar cravings may occur as a result of being thirsty, so replenishing the water in your body is often a quick fix. Consider drinking about six to eight glasses each day to stay hydrated and avoid sweetened drinks as much as possible with.

4. Make Healthy Substitutions

Another way to stop sugar cravings from affecting you throughout the day is to swap healthy foods for unhealthy ones. This is perhaps the most challenging of all these options, but it is one of the most effective ways to cut out cravings. By switching out your chocolate or candies for some fresh fruit or vegetables, you are telling your brain that you no longer want to load up on sugar and you’ll avoid setting off sugar cravings as well. Consider cut up fruit or vegetables as a snack, nuts to curb appetite, or even hot tea (unsweetened of course) to turn your midday treats healthier.

5. Cut Out Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are becoming quite common in today’s world, and now it seems more people are consuming more of the artificial product rather than sugar. Many of these users are attempting to cut sugar out of the diet to lose weight (by saving calories) and improve wellness. However, studies have shown that the use of artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages can lead to weight gain, as well as strengthen and encourage sugar dependence and cravings. With this in mind, it seems that one of the best ways to cut out sugar cravings from your life once and for all is to stop eating both sugar and artificial sweeteners. While this lifestyle change may take some time to completely master, the rewards will be worth it when successful.

Bottom Line

Sugar cravings can be a challenging part of your everyday life and when they set in, they can take over your mind in a hurry. Some of the most common causes of sugar cravings include a poor diet and the use of artificial sweeteners, both of which can lead to fluctuations in your blood sugar levels as well as cause you to crave sugar. While a sugar craving can happen to anyone at any time, there are some simple things that you can do to help stop them from occurring in the first place. Making small adjustments to your diet can be effective. Typically, adding more fiber and protein in your diet can cause you to feel full throughout the day while maintaining stable blood sugar levels. In addition, ensuring that you keep hydrated every day is essential for regulating your hormone balance, particularly your hunger hormones. Making these small changes can go a long way, and they will hopefully help you to win the battle against your cravings.


CARRIED BY THE MOMENT

CARRYING WATER IN BRAVO

by Valeria Teles

Our bedroom is very small, with no door and no lights; we use an improvised kerosene lamp. It’s very hot in the summer and very cold in winter because the roof is made of ancient tiles with lots of gaps.

The nightly ritual before going to bed is always the same. We smash a bunch of mosquitoes trapped in our old net and let some lucky ones escape by lifting it. I stitch over new holes to prevent them from coming in to bite us during the night. Even if they don’t get inside the net, their noise and my sister’s unsolicited hugs keep me from sleeping without interruption. I know she needs me; I could also use a warm hug from my mother to help me fall asleep. Besides the mosquitoes and my sister’s hugs, there’s another challenge to sleeping. Nightmares haunt me. I just hope that they are not as bad tonight, not bad enough to wake me up.

 

Painter: Ann Procacci

Carried by the Moment

After a rough night struggling to sleep between my sister’s unwanted hugs and the nightmares, the morning brings just enough light to chase the darkness of my fears away. The thoughts of my next chore keep me safe.

It’s early, and chilly. I can hardly see anything on the foggy path leading to the river. But the silence makes me smile with gratitude, to be alone with nature in the light of day. I like seeing the dust lift around every step I make, dragging my worn-out sandals in the soil as I swing my old grey bucket. Walking along the path on my way to the river is such a gift to me. My body is moving somewhere with so much space around; I love this sensation. I hear no human noises besides my own giggling when I suddenly see an animal crossing the road.

Then I reach the river. Nature has become my main source of love, acceptance, and understanding. My true family. It doesn’t hurt me if I get too close, and I don’t have to wish for its acceptance today or tomorrow. Being in the moment with nature gives me all I need; its unconditional love is right here and now.

Before I start filling my bucket with water, I play with it by swiping my hands from side to side. I see lots of small fish – they are close to the edge and not scared of me. I wonder if they are asking for help. Are they trapped like me at home?

The river is drying up. It will soon have no life or love to give to the fish, to us, and it isn’t the mother river’s fault – just like it is not my family’s fault that they don't love me. The river and the fish simply happened; they’ve spent some time together, and they will eventually disappear from each other. This is what nature is and what it does: a sublime, fleeting moment of dance for the partners in a miracle.

But the time is up for this feeling. I need to push the fish and the algae out of the way with my pink, scratched plastic cup, fetching clear water to fill my thirsty grey bucket. Then I place my pre-rolled towel, made into a rounded cushion to fit the bucket, upon my head. I carry the full bucket to the nearest large rock, where I can squat down in a level position and carefully place the bucket on top of the towel on my head. At first, it’s like being pressed down to the ground by the finger of a giant; but as I stand, everything feels normal. It is a workout, no doubt. I learned the technique of water carrying from some old, experienced ladies. It was a lesson they were proud to teach whenever they had a chance, as if they had a degree in water carrying that they hardly ever made use of. They were very excited to be instructors.

Walking back home, balancing the bucket, is fun. It’s a routine that keeps me here and now because all I can think of is not spilling the water. My body and mind become a transport for fresh water. How I love to be just a water carrier, and not the helpless fish in a drying river. I feel good, content. It’s refreshing. It can hear the song my heart sings, the most wonderful melody I ever heard. I don’t know what the lyrics are saying as they keep changing, but the melody is all I need to live this moment with peace, love, and joy.

Much love!

The Meaning of Life Question

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The Meaning of Life Question 

By Valeria Teles

When I met James for our first assessment session, he said to me, “Are you Valeria? You look so much taller in the pictures.”

“Yes, I confess, I am short,” I replied with a smile.

James was a tall businessman, suntanned and in his late forties, with rounded shoulders, and an ample belly. He used glasses and seemed distracted by the people training around the studio. He was clearly uncomfortable. James was very concerned about his health, but his main reason for hiring me was because he had just broken up with his girlfriend. His goal was to become physically fit to boost his self-esteem and confidence before joining a dating website.

He needed to lose approximately 20 pounds and reduce his belly fat, strengthen his muscles, increase his flexibility, improve his cardiovascular health, and enhance his mental and emotional well-being. People’s misconception that exercise is not fun evaporates after they start training with me, I use music. The assessment went well, and we scheduled his first 20 sessions.

We had our first session in a private, artsy fitness studio in Soho. “How are you feeling today, James?”

“I am very well,” he replied.

“Great, let’s get started.” I continued enthusiastically. I gave him some warm-up exercises to do as we continued our conversation.

“What is the meaning of life for you?” I asked him.

He looked at me and smiled. “What a big question coming from a small, young trainer on an ordinary Monday morning,” he said, as he tried to concentrate on his plank hold.

“I think the meaning of life is to be happy,” he replied.

“Are you happy now?” I asked. 

“I would like to have my girlfriend back,” he said.

“Was it your girlfriend who gave your life meaning?” I asked.

He paused for a moment to consider my question. We moved on to the squat rack.

“Perhaps she only needed to change a few things about her personality, and she would be my main source of happiness, meaning, yes. She needed to understand me more and love me for who I am. This was the challenge in our relationship.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean, this way she would complete me,” James said.

I had to ask, “Is it possible to feel complete being on your own, too?”

“Well, I like having someone to share my life with, the special moments, to travel with, to talk with, to sleep with, to go out for dinner and maybe to have a child with. You know, a partner. This is the only thing that’s missing in my life now, besides having a fit body like yours. My girlfriend and I were together for more than six years. I loved having someone around, even though our relationship wasn’t the best. I realize now that even having someone around to fight with is better than not having anyone. I hired you so I can get in shape to feel confident enough again to go out there on the dating scene or to try to convince my girlfriend to come back to me.”

“I see,” I said, thinking about everything he just said. I continued, “James, wouldn’t you agree that life is worth living the healthiest way possible? First, by understanding ourselves, knowing why we choose to do what we do, the habits we have, the friendships we cultivate, the food we eat, the anger we feel, the love we crave, and beliefs we hold.

“I believe our sufferings come from a repetition of unhealthy behaviors and habits that go unquestioned out of fear of learning the truth. The secret to fulfillment is how we embrace the truths each moment presents to us in a variety of ways every day. If happiness is what we are looking for, rather than chasing it, why not focus on how to make each moment complete and joyful, by being grateful in the here and now doing whatever we are doing––or learning a lesson about whatever we are going through. Don’t you think we should strive to give a healthy meaning to each moment we choose to live, granting ourselves a chance to learn from one another and from our experience?”

By the time I finished sharing my thoughts, James had squatted for 10 minutes. He had burned quite a lot of calories, and he had his chin in his hand in the Thinker’s pose.

Much love to you!
 

YOUR COMFORT IS MINE

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You Are Holding My Hand

By V. Teles

We arrive in a small town after a long car trip. The door opens. We step out, but I stay close to the car. 

It’s night.

My heart is racing. There are a lot of people around.

Everyone is anxious. They seem worried about something.

It must be something scary. I am afraid, although I don’t know what is happening.

I stay still.

Standing in a dusty street, I lean back against the car. It is the only place around here that feels safe to me.

“What is going on over there?” I ask myself.

 I can barely see anything.

Then I realize people are looking up in the direction of a house where smoke is coming out.

“We heard an explosion earlier,” someone says in a timid, shaky voice.

I have never smelled something like this before. The air is heavy. The house doesn’t look like a house anymore.

“What will happen me?” I ask myself in fear.

Can someone hold my hand? Please.

I can’t see my mother anymore.

My father is distancing himself from the car, from me too. But I can still see him from here.

My sister is close to me, shaking with fear. She looks lost and sad.

The fear doesn’t make my body shake like it does my little sister’s.

I wonder what is going to happen to us.

All I want is a warm hand to hold on to. I want to feel safe.

In silent despair, I stand by the car waiting for our parents to come back.

I don’t want to stay here and I can’t go anywhere.

I can only hold my sister’s hand to ease her fear.

By doing so, I feel a warm hand holding mine. 

Much love!

Hold on to the Roots

The Lucid Dream

I am climbing a high mountain. 

Halfway to the top, it becomes slippery.

I can’t go farther.

The dust falls all over and around me. I can’t see anything.

I am the only witness to my struggle.

My hands desperately try to find something to hold on to.

The mountain is falling apart. So am I.

In the midst of the end, I hear a song:

“You won’t die – Don’t worry. Don’t worry. You won’t die.”

I doubt the song. “But I am about to.”

The song becomes louder and louder,

“You won’t die – Don’t worry. Don’t worry. You won’t die.”

Then, the song stops.

When I am about to fall, my hands find the roots of a tree.

I hold on to it.

I am safe. Just in time.

The piece of land uncovers the roots.

There is a tree above me.

A beautiful tree called LIFE.

The land disintegrates, so the dust falls on me.

The struggle blinds my eyes. I can only hear the song.

The doubt and the fear make me wonder.

I wonder about hope and love so I can understand life.

In the end, it was all meant to be.

To climb the mountain…

To struggle…

To doubt…

To fear…

To hear the song…

To hold on to the roots…

To hope…

To love…

To find the life which is always there, inside and outside the dream.

By Valeria Teles

Much love!

THE BEAUTY OF BEING YOURSELF

It’s a sunny afternoon.

I am watching swans and ducks swim in the lake.

A wonderful feeling of peace and joy fills my heart.

My breathing deepens. My body relaxes.

“I could stay here all day,” I say to myself.

Then, a question comes to mind:

“Why does watching these birds swim make me feel so peaceful and happy?”

I have no answer for a few minutes. I keep watching the birds move around.

Then comes a thought with an answer:

“It’s because they are free. It’s a sunny day and they are swimming in an open lake in whatever direction they choose to go.”

A mother with her child passes by me. The child laughs, pointing at the birds. They distracted me for moment.

My body is leaning against a wooden fence. I am at the top of a bridge looking down at the water.

The swimming birds have all my attention again.

It feels great!

It doesn’t take long for another thought to come up again. This time, as gracefully as the birds swimming in the water.

It says:

“Oh, I know. It’s the beautiful pattern they leave in the water as they move with freedom while being themselves.”

I step away from the fence, and walk with a smile on my face.

Did you leave a beautiful pattern somewhere today?  :)

Much love!

Valeria

REMEMBER YOUR TRUE GIFT

Physical adoration has driven many of us away from our unique and true gifts. Some of us have become so obsessed with a fit body, or ashamed for not having one, that, along with exercise, unnecessary suffering has also become part of our lifestyle.

It was a nice Monday morning. I was having a conversation with a client who I’d been training for a couple of months. It had been a year of self-discovery for me. My mind pondered about what gives us real purpose and what really matters in life.

In the middle of our session, I said, “Susan, you know what I found out recently?”

She said, “What?” 

“That the foundation of health is love, it is to feel truly connected with one another in compassion. Doesn’t it make a lot of sense?”

She looked at me and said, “Valeria, can you get the mat for my next glute workout?”

We continued with the session as if there were no comment made and no questions asked. 

Much Love!

Valeria 

JOURNEY TO THE HAPPY YOU!

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If you are like me and are inclined to engage in physical activity, integrating fitness and spirituality is essential. For many, many years I struggled to answer the question, “How do I take good care of my body but not fall for preconceptions about physical attractiveness and health?”

The answer was very simple, yet also highly complex and paradoxical. The closer you live to your spiritual heart, the less you tend to engage in purely physical activities and beautifying methods, even if they promote a healthy body and high self-esteem. This is because your spirit knows that sickness, old age, and death are inevitable. The time we have on earth is too limited to concern ourselves with the impermanent aspect of our existence. Every second becomes a valuable chance to recognize our true nature and to realize who we are in the spiritual reality.

When you know that there is a lot more to you than a body and a thinking mind, but you don’t know how to access that deeper part, you end up struggling between the two. This journey in limbo can be interesting, especially because it can teach you to have compassion for your own body. The paradox is that even giving attention to thoughts about fitness and health can lead you to believe that you are a physical being whose psychological needs must be met in order to feel good or to be whole. At this level, you are not living a spiritual existence yet.

However, this is all part of the journey to reaching the happy you. Listening to the heart, so that we can live more and more as a spiritual being can bring our existence to a conscious space where life becomes a loving and joyful adventure that renews itself with every moment.

 

Much love!

Valeria 

MORE THAN OUR BODIES

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Weight lifting can be of great help with weight loss, staying in shape, and building strength. But as I mention throughout my boo, Fit for Joy, this type of training focuses only on the physical body, which is just one aspect of our being. We are so much richer and complex than just our bodies. The approach to fitness that works the body in isolation from the mind and the spiritual heart is not a sustainable source of health. This is the reason I created the Fit for Joy lifestyle which integrates conventional physical fitness with spirituality. 

Much Love!

Valeria

Give the World the Best You Have Anyway

“The Paradoxical Commandment” is another collection of words I cherish. It embraces the indestructible human spirit, honoring its power - regardless. "Do your best, forgive and move forward," it says. This is precious to me.

 

The Paradoxical Commandment


People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.


By Kent M. Keith
 

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 as 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 poor 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 distraction” from our inner conflicts.

Although it is true that exercise and physical attractiveness can improve our overall health and lift our self-esteem, using 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!

ESCAPISM & FITNESS HABITS

The links between my 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 my 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 by (and built on) 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.

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 might sometimes consciously (or unconsciously) believe that we are not good enough or not worthy of happiness. When this happens, we then begin to work hard in pursuit of this worthiness.

As a result, anything external that gives us the illusion that we deserve happiness for our effort will also become our own created prison.

This cycle of sustaining habits out of fear turns 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, creating a state of mind where true happiness cannot exist.

Much love! 

Valeria  

To be healthy is to be loving.

 UNHAPPY HEART IN A FIT BODY

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Susan had a session with me at two in the afternoon. I was not feeling well after Destiny’s encounter. During lunch, my thoughts had been much more centered on love and kindness, and this reflection was hovering over me when Susan arrived. She’d been training with me for a couple of months.

I began chatting with her about these tender reflections. In the middle of our session, I said, “Susan, you know what I’ve begun to realize?”

 “What?” she asked.

 “That the foundation of health is love; how can we feel comfortable in our bodies if we are not in love with life? Does that make sense to you?”

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She looked at me as if she was thinking about it. Then she said, “Valeria, can you please get the mat for my next buttocks workout?”

We continued with the session as if I’d never brought up the insignificance of a fit body without a loving heart and a happy mind.

Much Love!

Valeria Teles

THE SUN, THE MOON, AND THE TRUTH CANNOT HIDE

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Karen was my last client for the day. We met at seven sharp, right after Steve.

Karen was an obese woman I trained twice a week. She was thirty years old, weighed 250 pounds, and was 5’ 2”. However, these numbers don’t say anything about her as a person. She was a painter who owned her own gallery in Manhattan. The serenity in her eyes and the way she smiled for no reason introduced her to me before she even told me her name.

She had been married for more than five years to someone who was in good shape. I knew this because her husband came to pick her up after our sessions. The conversation we had the first day we met left me pondering about life for days.

I asked the same question I asked every client before we began the program: What are your three main fitness goals?

Karen said she only had one goal: to enjoy the workouts.

I recall looking into her eyes as if she had not understood my question. I rephrased it, and this time I was more specific.

“I understand, Karen, and I will ensure that the exercises will be fun, but what I meant was, how many pounds do you want to lose?”

Again, she answered with a smile and said she didn’t care about the weight; she just wanted to feel good during and after the workouts. Furthermore, she said it didn’t matter if she didn’t lose any weight at all. Her peaceful eyes and joyful smile reinforced the truth of her words.

I could not believe this woman and how out of touch with reality she was. She was obese, for God’s sake! She could actually die of a heart attack at any moment, and my mind refused to believe that anyone could be at peace with a body like hers. It couldn’t be possible.

I insisted. I tried to force her to make a deal with me, and asked her to agree on losing one to two pounds per week.

Once more with the same serene, happy look on her face, she replied that I didn’t understand her. Patiently, she repeated that she was fine with her weight and that she enjoyed her work. She was a person who loved and was loved by her family and friends. Her life was a blessing, and she was grateful for what she had. There was nothing else to be added or removed to make her happier. The workouts with me were just to get her body moving while she had some fun.

I wasn’t amazed by her attitude, because I neither understood nor believed in what she was saying at the time. Nevertheless, after our encounter that day, I went home thinking about her, and I remembered a thought I’d had when I was a teenager, one that had returned many times throughout my life.

I would die young.

I believed I would not reach the age of thirty, despite being physically healthy.

Perhaps intuitively, I knew that my heart could fail at any time because of my lack of understanding of what life was really about: love and kindness.

I am convinced that Karen became my client for a reason—to teach me that to be healthy is to be loving. She trained with me for almost a year, and never lost any weight.

Karen was the healthiest client I ever had.

 

Much Love!

Valeria Teles

SIMPLE PRACTICE FOR A PEACEFUL DAY

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A simple practice we can engage in to cultivate peace and harmony is to give up hope and replace it with aspiration or motivation from the heart—that is, to stop waiting to be happy when something happens. Instead, rejoice in this very moment because what you are doing now should already be the realization of what you want to happen in the future. 

Warm wishes,

Valeria  

LIFE CAN BECOME A LUCID DREAM

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The moment we choose to recognize our experiences in the world as lessons of love, life turns into a lucid dream. This recognition can come from the depths of our hearts—the spiritual awareness through the senseless suffering caused by our minds. Either way, the main difference between a nightmare and a lucid dream is a shift of our perception grounded in love. In the dream of life, there are many mountains to climb every day, and they might crumble, the dust might blur our vision, fear might replace our hope, but if we have faith and recognize our own essence, we will never fall.

 

Much love!

Valeria

TRAINING BODY, MIND AND SOUL

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I believe that any physical activity can become a spiritual experience, even a tough type of training like weight lifting. The location where we train can become an auspicious terrain where spiritual awareness and physical practices can be integrated. I feel this is important. In most commercial gyms there is nothing there to remind the mind to practice virtues like trust, respect, patience, and kindness among others.

At best, weight lifting in commercial gyms can give us a feeling of being present in the moment, which is induced mostly by safety considerations. This is because the owners and staff of such places are not aligned with the idea of offering both a physical and spiritual space to us. Most gym managers are more preoccupied with signing up new members than they are with their well-being and happiness. 

Much love!

Valeria