Eileen Z. Fuentes | How to Make Your Problems Disappear
morning ritual, michelle obama, self-care, self-healthcare, gym, passion planner, power hour, fitness, negative thoughts, breast cancer, latina, 21 days, habits, Afro-Latina
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Red Clock

15 Feb How To Make Your Problems Disappear

A short time ago, I came across a video of Michelle Obama’s extremely early morning workout routine. It immediately triggered a curiosity in me that I could not ignore. This curiosity forced me to take a closer look at my morning ritual and it seriously needed some revamping. Every morning consisted of last-minute uncoordinated running around, lots of yelling and tons of exhaustion.

Within a week, I canceled my more-than-twenty-year membership to a gym that I had totally outgrown and got a new one that was much closer to my home and offered a lot more bang for my buck. For signing up, I was offered a free session with a trainer. During our scheduled appointment, he asked me what I did for a living and I answered but he wanted details. I explained to him that I am a patient navigator at Columbia University’s Cancer center and mentioned two patients in particular who I was working with and that were given a very poor prognosis. It was at this point that he asked me to climb on the stair stepper. All I remember is him pressing the up arrow button over and over again. When I finally reached the point where I was about to pass out, he stopped the machine abruptly and asked me if at any point I thought about these women, then he said, “this is why you need to do this workout regularly”. He reminded me that I should use this time to not think about other people’s problems or my own… in that instant, the POWER HOUR was officially born.

That night I laid out my exercise clothes, prepped the coffee pot in advance, and set the alarm for 4:30am. It takes me 15 minutes to get ready and by 5am, my power hour begins. I purposely push myself to the limit simply because I know that it will take me away from my thoughts. Upon returning home from the gym at 6am, I walk my dog and then prepare a healthy breakfast and lunch to take to work.

Experts say that habits take 21 days to go from temporary to permanent, and just this week, I hit that target. My mornings are so much smoother and my days are much more productive. I love my new job but I am realizing the importance of disconnecting from it. I deal with real people whose lives are in crisis and it’s critical that I practice self-care regularly. As an added bonus, I find that I have much more clarity and little tolerance for any other type of negativity. I ride into work listening to audiobooks (from the library). I also use my passion planner to map out my days/weeks/months on the weekends. I can guarantee you that I am far from perfect and the weight scale does not necessarily reflect the number I wish it did. However, those 60 minutes have been my saving grace. To be completely honest, my power hour is the only time that is truly my own. During this period, my mind and body are invigorated and I have found a way for my problems and thoughts to literally disappear. I am realizing that I have more control over my challenges than they do over me.

Here are 5 tips to successfully ease into your power hour and make your problems disappear too:

  1. Prep-o-ration!   Pack yo’ gym bag, take out yo’ clothes, and have yo’ cafetera (coffee pot) ready.
  2. Early to bed early to rise – that’s right, friends… don’t think you could do one without the other. If you don’t get enough rest, you will fail.
  3. Get an accountability partner – Ask a friend who you know wakes up super early or go on social media and find one, then ask them to be be your wake-up caller (texting won’t work). Once you hit day 21, you can set them free and give them a gift for their committment to you and your well-being.
  4. Document your success – A planner, journal or  app tracker can give you a visual of all your hard work and keep you motivated.
  5. Don’t just focus on the physical – Your mental strength is equally important. Get hooked on audiobooks, TED talks or begin a meditation practice.

Monday thru Friday my alarm wakes me up. Today my body decided to do it on its own. #Saturday #PowerHour #GoodMorning #FitMom

A photo posted by 🎯Self-Healthcare Activist (@eileenzfuentes) on

Eileen Z. Fuentes

After a breast cancer diagnosis in 2008, Eileen became her own Self-Healthcare Activist. She is an Integrative Cancer Coach and works full-time helping patients do more than just survive at Columbia University’s Cancer Center in New York City.

  • Danuta Micor
    Posted at 11:01h, 16 February Reply

    Thank you for reminding all of us what is important. It is crucial in our line of work to feel empathy for our clients, but in order for us to feel good it should not be about feeling someone else’s pain (which we often do) but about. simply HEARING them. Only when we are.able to separate from their pain we can clearly see what’s next. Thank you for this post.

    • Eileen
      Posted at 15:43h, 16 February Reply

      Thank you, Danuta. It has taken me over 40 years to realize that I can be an active and supportive listener. Thank you for your insight and commitment to yourself and others.

  • Niurka Reynoso
    Posted at 22:17h, 16 February Reply

    Thank you Eileen for remind me how important is to invest at least an hour of the day just for me! My husband keeps telling me the same thing! Thanks to him I’m doing little be better but I feel ( and he agrees ) that what I’m doing is not enough in comparison to all the energy I dedicate to others. Your insight is exactly the kind of input I need to ease not just my mornings but my whole day! it’s so easy to focus on doing good things for others, helping, cheering up others! that we forget that we are as important as they are for us.

    • Eileen
      Posted at 22:51h, 16 February Reply

      By loving you more, you have more love to give… I don’t go to the gym everyday. I go four times a week but on the fifth day, I enjoy walks with my husband. Fortunately, you have a supportive partner. We must be the change we wish to see, hermana.

  • Merelis Catalina
    Posted at 07:46h, 17 February Reply

    Thank you for sharing your morning ritual with us! Yea, my morning ritual is in need of some work. I want to try that 21 day challenge and push myself to wake up and sleep early. I also have the passion planner. I plan to start using that soon.

    Much love!

    • Eileen
      Posted at 07:57h, 17 February Reply

      The 21-day challenge has made what was once grueling, a routine. Getting the physical and mental in shape is key to helping ourselves while we help others. Find an accountability partner and you’ll have to answer to someone every time you slip up and forget about yourself.

      Un Beso!

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