10/13/14
barre

Belly Up to the Barre

My first class at Pure Barre St Pete was pretty scary. I spent the time leading up to the class feeling horrified by the whole concept, and I was absolutely positive I was going to hate it.

I walked in to a trendy studio occupied by workout clothes I can’t afford, perfectly young and lovely staff, and pounding pop music. As I sat there in my R2D2 yoga pants with no idea what to expect, I became painfully aware that there was a sort of unspoken uniform. Black leggings, flowy tops and tanks in conservative colors (no neon, no prints unless they were branded), and everyone in the same grippy bottomed, sparkly mesh topped socks. I felt so conspicuous, ever more so given I outweighed every other class member by a good fifty pounds and probably had a good eighty on the instructor.

I clumsied my way through the class anyway and left feeling frustrated. The instructor didn’t give modifications for new students and I kept hearing “the higher your toes, the thinner your thighs” in a high-pitched perky voice echoing in my head. I didn’t want to go back. I sat down in my car and…felt completely awesome.

Seriously. The workout made me feel amazing. I was energized and super sweaty and felt great. It was so annoying. Even more annoying? I woke up the next morning and had no functional soreness. I was sore and could tell I’d worked, but I wasn’t dying and I didn’t spend that day or the next hobbling. I hate hobbling. In short, I felt exactly the way I wanted to feel. I even craved less crap.

Basically, I was going to have to go back. I had a ten class pass anyway, and I felt like it was wasteful not to use it. So back I went. It wasn’t until I was walking into my third class that I realized a lot of the issue was in my own head. I was so sold on the idea that barre wasn’t for girls like me, that is was a particular sort of environment full of “other” people. I was convinced I’d hate it, and I’d liked it in spite of myself. I decided it was time to switch up my mindset and really give the workouts a chance. The more classes I went to, purposefully trying to visit every instructor and lots of different class days/times, the more I settled in. I saw more and more people like me – new, not twenty, not tiny – and I realized how hard I was working. I pour sweat in that class and my average heart rate is in the 120s to 130s. There were tons of sections where I had to take breaks and some things I just couldn’t do at all.

By class seven or so, that was starting to change. I was seeing distinct differences in what I could do and how I was feeling. My body felt stronger. I wasn’t getting frustrated in class as often. By class ten, they’d changed up the moves and I was really enjoying the challenge. The focus on bodyweight strength and isometric holds and dance-inspired movement is sort of perfect for what I want for my body. The class structure keeps me motivated and also gets me out of the house.

In the end, I ended up with another month of classes thanks to the super supportive staff there. In the end I think most of them really want to see students keep coming back and getting stronger.

The benefits: After you get the hang of it (took five or so classes) the routines are easy enough to follow. I pour sweat without feeling nauseous or dizzy or horrible. The workouts aren’t based on jumping or running, so my temperamental legs are safe. I get some aches from the workout but am never so sore I can’t function. The ballet inspiration is genuinely fun for me. I actually like the horrible pounding pop music. The more I go, the more I find nice people – participants and instructors – who make me feel welcome. When I finish the workouts I feel like a SUPERHERO. It’s a tough, full body workout in less than an hour.

The drawbacks: The atmosphere is definitely intimidating at first, and the first few classes can feel frustrating since instructors don’t offer modifications or detailed instructions. The schedule is hard for me (any schedule would be) because the traveling husband means always needing childcare for the classes. If I had a more traditional situation I could go to the 6am class Tue-Fri and at least one weekend morning. Because I have kid worries, I can only make one weekday class without feeling guilty for missing time with her and/or asking someone else to watch her. Most weeks I can’t guarantee more than two classes a week. There is a dress code – no shorts, no midriffs exposed – that wasn’t an issue for me but could be tough for some. They also require grippy socks and no shoes in the studio. I’d suggest toeless ones since the regular sort I picked up in the studio leave me slipping when I try to hold a plank.

barreThe biggest issue though? Price for sure. The classes are super expensive compared to anything else I’ve seen and it’s super tough to manage. Honestly I don’t know if I’ll be continuing past this month despite my love of it because I just can’t afford it. Classes are upwards of $20 a piece, and an unlimited monthly pass (which requires more than two classes a week to really take advantage of) is nearly $200 a month. They have packages of ten or twenty or fifty classes that make it cheaper than purchasing them one at a time, but not by much. They have regular Groupons, but you’re not eligible for those after the first one. I honestly think they’re worth the cost, but that doesn’t count for much when you don’t have the money.

Conclusion: I took my eleventh Pure Barre class this weekend. I’m pretty sure I cried at the barre at one point, and there’s one move that continues to completely evade me (that one in the pic…no seriously, that’s the face I make). So frustrating. I feel incredible. I want to feel this way every day. Think you can’t do it? Think you’ll be the biggest one there? (I am)

 

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10/12/14

Will Race for Beer

I can’t believe it’s already October. I can’t believe I’m scrambling to find Halloween costumes and book Thanksgiving flights and we’re starting to think about Christmas.

Now that we’re in Florida, fall feels pretty anticlimactic. All it’s meant so far is a little less heat and some slightly cool mornings. It’s kind if weird, honestly, but the heat backing down a little is making it easier to keep up with longer walks for my half training. It means I’m having a wonderful time this month earning my gorgeous Oktoberfest medals from Jost Running.

The October medals are gorgeous and have built in bottle openers that make perfect tools for a post-race beer! Registrations benefit Midwest Food Bank. I know people hesitate with virtual races because the race atmosphere isn’t there, but for me it’s a great way to reward the training I’m doing anyway. Plus it means never having to miss my limited family time because of a scheduled race. Still want a little race environment? Make it an event of your own! Get your friends and family together to make your own race. Rope in your church group, book club, parents group.

It’s well worth it. My Jost medals are by far the best ones I have. They’re bigger and better designed than most of my official race medals. Get in on it too and help benefit charity while getting your race on!

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10/7/14

Walking & Medals & Bras, Oh My!

Oh hai. I’m sad today. It’s just a sad-iversary, and I’ll be just fine. In the meantime, I wanted to talk a bit about how my half marathon walk training is going, mostly because I actually think it’s going pretty well. Here’s a screenshot from the Training Peaks site I’m using, and the training is the Hal Higdon program.

TrainingSo that’s where I’m at. I’ve moved around some workouts and changed the order of things, but I’ve done every workout so far. The two red ones are ones where I was off the mark significantly for distance or time. The first was when I did 5 miles instead of 3, and the second was last night’s terrible, no good, very bad, super horrible training walk. I wrote this on Facebook after the walk:

Went out for the first fast training walk on the schedule today. I couldn’t come ANYWHERE NEAR the time suggested (10min/mi). Already frustrated, I decided instead to aim for the significantly slower minimum pace for my December race (16min/mi). I managed that for about .75mi before my shin pain flared big time. No way I can maintain that pace for 13.1 miles. Can’t find a half in FL with no time limit. It’s my own fault for registering for a time limited race, I guess.

feeling defeated.

Fortunately, my incredible friends rallied. I got advice, support, love, understanding. I began to understand that walking a 10 minute mile was ridiculous, and that whatever I could do was enough. I looked back at my calendar and realized I’d stuck with three weeks of training, and even added in my own other exercise on top of that. It’s the most consistently I’ve moved my body in a while, and it felt awesome. So now I’m planning to keep up with the training, and thanks to my awesome local friend Jenny I’ve gotten into contact with the race director, who says they’ll be able to accommodate me starting WAY early to finish on time, or finishing late. Either way, they’ll see that I finish, and that’s what matters to me.

I’m loving the walks themselves, as long as I don’t push for a particular pace, because they’re a chance to clear my head. I can think straight and things make sense. Stress goes away. I get up from my desk, which happens woefully seldom otherwise. I get to watch the turtles in the lake. If the time and light are right, I take the dog and the kid and the husband when he’s around, and we make it a family affair. Having a schedule to walk with has been super helpful because it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something versus sort of blindly trying to figure out what I ought to be doing…which was totally my plan when I first signed up for this race. Plus I’ll have the added benefit of earning my beautiful JOST medals along the way, which makes training that much more fun. The Octoberfest medals are AWESOME.

I’ve also been incredibly fortunate to have ENELL supporting me too (see what I did there?). I’ve worn an ENELL bra on every training walk, to every class, and even wore the pink HOPE bra all by itself on the kayak when the kid was cold. Hey, a mom sacrifices her tank top when needed… In short, I’m SO thankful to be involved with such an incredible company. The bras are incomparable – lovely and comfortable and hella supportive – and the company itself couldn’t be run by better people. I’ve never had this kind of open communication as an ambassador. I’m super proud to be one for ENELL. (Go buy a bra. I make no money from it, but your boobs will be happier, and that makes me happy.)

So what about those other workouts? A lot of yoga of course, but there seems to be a repeating pattern of something else on that calendar if you look. But how I got into, and then continued with, Barre classes (of all things) is another story for another time….

 

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10/2/14

Atleast Once More, As Always

How many times will I eat myself sick before I start making food choices that my body can thrive on? How many times will I make the effort to eat well, feel the distinct benefits, and still turn away from them? How many days/nights will I spend feeling miserable because I decided the momentary pleasure of a food was worth it?

Comfort, ease, convenience, distraction, satisfaction. When I choose these foods, those are the things I’m looking for. Thanks to long years of conditioning, I usually get the result I’m looking for…one or two of those needs are fulfilled by the cupcakes or candy or cookies…for a half hour at most before I’m back to looking, or I’m already feeling negative results.

Yesterday was a pretty epic example of a day when I made food choices that didn’t serve me. I was running late and stressed out after having to unexpectedly take the dog to the vet (she’s fine) and I hadn’t had food or coffee. So I went to McDonalds and got a breakfast sandwich, two hashbrowns, and a coffee. Ate it all on the way to work, then got to work and realized I had poptarts in my desk. Waited about an hour, then ate those too. Ate too much of an admittedly delicious roast beef sandwich at lunch, which I followed with a pretty mediocre seven layer bar. Finished my day feeling heavy and exhausted, already having stomach issues, and chose to have beer and cheesecake for dinner…knowing full well that dairy kills me and combining it with sugar makes it extra awful. I went to bed feeling sick, woke up several times in the night with discomfort, slept poorly, and woke up still having issues.

The worst part is that I know what it’s like to feel better, for my colon issues to be mostly at rest and my energy levels to be balanced and even and lovely. In fact, I did Erin Mot’z Bad Yogi Detox last week and it was a game changer. I wasn’t perfect on the cleanse. My office buys me lunch, so I skipped the lunch recipes and just got whatever veggie based fresh food I could get at work. For dinners, I repeated several instead of making something new every night because I had leftovers like whoa since it’s kind of just me. With Aaron traveling and Evi having a five year old’s appetite, I had so much food leftover that it didn’t make sense to buy/cook something new.

Even with all my foibles in following the plan, I saw immediate benefit. The worst of my stomach issues, which were flaring pretty badly, were noticeably calmer in two days. By day five I felt awesome. I was calmer, less tired, and had less of a later afternoon slump. I was sleeping better too. The recipes weren’t difficult, they tasted good, and since I was using the leftovers it wasn’t any more expensive than anything else we buy. It was slightly more time consuming since I sometimes had to chop or prepare somehow before cooking, but Evi helped and we chatted through dinner prep, so it didn’t take away from my evenings at all.

So why did I stop? Well, I gave myself a pass to abandon the plan for the weekend since I knew we’d be running all over the place and I wouldn’t be able to cook. Fine, but I could have chosen so much better when we ate out. Instead, I went for the heavy stuff, and by the end of the weekend I felt pretty terrible. And instead of turning it around, I compacted those bad choices with more non-nourishing foods through the week. At this point, I’m totally exhausted, my stomach is a mess, and I can’t sleep well at all. I’m foggy through my work day and having a hard time mustering any energy to workout. I don’t want to do my half marathon training even though I love walking, and the barre classes I’ve been enjoying feel like a chore.

As many times as it happens, I still don’t know why. I just don’t understand, and I’m tired of it. You know, this was intended to be a review of the Bad Yogi Detox and I honestly can’t stress enough what a fantastic program it is for giving your body a break from indulgences without weird food restrictions or harsh rules. No weird groceries, no impossible recipes, no gross foods. So try it. It’s well worth it. Maybe I can convince myself to do the same next week…

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09/17/14

Here’s The Thing…

I’ve been brewing a post for days now. A post about the barre classes I’ve been taking. A post about the beginning of half marathon training. A post about how I feel just a little bit sad lately.

This is none of these posts, or all of them. It’s just a collection of where I am, what I’m up to, and why any of it just might matter.

I’ll Be At the Barre

PureBarreSo barre class? I hated the whole idea of it. I took the 10-class coupon I had, and I figured it was worth a shot. I went into it knowing I wasn’t the type of client they market too, knowing I didn’t look the part, and fully expecting to dislike it. As ought to be no surprise, I wasn’t disappointed. I found the focus on weight loss and body type to be ridiculous. I found the fact that everyone was thin and young and wearing a particularly expensive brand of yoga tights and the same blousy tops and sparkly grippy socks to be obnoxious at best. I was frustrated by the lack of modifications offered for new students. In fact, I was frustrated by a general lack of guidance or explanation from the teacher throughout the class.

But here’s the thing. The workout? Was sort of great. It was incredibly hard, but I wasn’t sore beyond some smallish aching the next day. I felt amazing when I was done, I was covered in sweat, and my heart rate monitor said I worked hard. Still, I didn’t particularly want to go back. I went to the second class, and then to the third…and somewhere along the way I started to like it. It’s weird. I still am not a huge fan of the atmosphere or the focus on thin bodies (a common instructor “encouragement” is “the higher the toes, the thinner the thighs – funny since my toes are higher than most) but the way I feel when the workout is done is probably worth the weird. Too bad there isn’t an option for a similar workout with more of a body love message involved. If the franchise in question focused on strength and health benefits versus thin thighs and “that tank top area” I’d be a lot happier spending my money there. Since the classes are stupid expensive, I’ll likely be asking for gift cards for birthdays and holidays and using those as I can. So no regular attendance for me, but when I can go I likely will.

So what happened to Nerd Fitness? Sadly (particularly in light of the cost of the program) it’s just…not for me. The workouts take over an hour every time, and making that happen three times a week was taxing and stressful for me when I was still trying to get yoga and walking in too. The time was a big factor, but might have been less so except that the workouts were SO BORING. SO BORING. Repetitive. Not fun. Every single time it felt like this huge chore and I found myself dreading every minute even when I was in the middle of it. I haven’t 100% abandoned the idea of it yet, but I’m stepping back from it for now in favor of yoga and barre when I can, plus my half training.

Clean It Up

Final-Logo_whitebackgroundI’m still having issues making the right food choices, and lately my cranky colon has been misbehaving quite a bit. Clearly what I’m doing is NOT working, so it’s time to make some other choices about my food. I think it’s time for a bit of a reset with some nice, clean foods so I’m planning to undertake a super real world cleanse authored by my yoga hero, Erin Motz. After looking through all of the recipes, it’s super manageable. Nothing requires a ton of cooking or prep, and none of the ingredients are rare or bizarre. It’s all real food too. No crazy eat only cabbage days or anything.

So here’s the thing. I went with this because I trust Erin as a yogi and a normal human being. She eats happily, enjoys food, doesn’t restrict herself to any particular category. In other words she’s doing what I’d like to do, so I think this is the right choice for right now. I’m a little worried about making it work with my work schedule and Aaron traveling, but I want to at least try it out. I might have to make some substitutions, particularly in light of the fact that my office provides my lunch and I don’t really want to forego free lunch in favor of buying food. So we’ll see how that works. It’s only ten days, so it might just mean ten days of salads from the work cafeteria, which is fine with me honestly. It’s easy.

Half Walk

My half training started this week. Monday was a rest day so I walked an easy 30 minutes yesterday. It was a great day to start because we had a morning dentist appointment. We got out of the house earlier than planned and had time to kill, so we went to a park right next to the dentists office and circled the empty basketball courts for half an hour. It was perfect because the kid could come with me when she wanted to, but since it was gated off she could also run around the court or sit and read when she got bored/tired of walking with me. I wish she could be with me every time! I’m due for a super easy 20 minutes today and it’s incredibly rainy, so I’m trying to figure out when I’m going to make that work. I might just take the kid and dog for an evening stroll the moment we get home, rain or shine, since I don’t see it happening any other way.

Here’s the thing. I love walking. It’s calming. It makes me happy. It eases the various aches and pains I tend to collect from sitting at a desk all day. Even the weird back pain I had after barre class #2 was made better by walking. As long as I’m wearing the right shoes, my previously broken foot behaves itself too, so there’s zero downside. The half training program I’m doing is great too, because none of the weekday walks are more than 45 minutes, so I’ll be able to do them on my lunch break without an issue, and without getting drippy with sweat. I did go fancy and sign up for the Training Peaks version of the program, which has a lot more detail and can be synced to my Google calendar, so that’s awesome. I’m really, really looking forward to repping ENELL at the Holiday Halfathon in December, and for once training isn’t something I’m dreading or hating or trying to get out of.

But I am Le Sad

Yeah. I am struggling with a little bit of sad right now. It’s a combination of stress, not quite enough sleep, a traveling husband, hormones, and the realization that our new Florida home means no “real” fall season. Fall has always been my favorite, so this is weird to say the least. I’m fine, really, and I’m monitoring the situation with care to make sure I stay that way.

So here’s the thing. What it takes to keep me feeling fine is a lot of love and support. It means reaching out to friends and family. It means asking for help. It means spending a weekend away with my incredible husband at the wedding of some of my favorite people. We’re very lucky to have travel points from all his work travel to spend so that we can go. Being and staying alright means making sure regular yoga happens nearly every day, for the sake of my body and my mind. It means drinking more water and less coffee. It means blogging even when I don’t feel like it, because sometimes getting it all out is what it takes to keep perspective.

Push the Limits

9-16-2014 2-04-44 PMKaren posted this on Facebook today and I loved it. I don’t always do well with pushing my own limits, testing the boundaries, and revisiting my long held theories about my own abilities and habits. The more I think about it, the more I feel like I’m letting time pass me by. I don’t have a lot of time to give, but what I do have could often be put to better use. It’s tough because I’m not a believer in the idea that I should never read or watch television or veg out without purpose. It’s not, for me, about constantly filling every second with things I deem to be “better” or “productive”. Instead, it’s about the constant push to listen to my body and my mind and my soul. It’s about filling my time with the things that really feel good to me in that moment. So yes, sometimes that will mean sitting on the couch. Sometimes it will mean extra yoga, or a workout class, or making a salad.

And here’s the thing. There are bigger things that I want too. I want more yoga in my life, and I’m planning and plotting. So here’s where I ask something of you in return. Will you share your yoga questions and concerns in the comments? Will you tell me what you struggle with, what you’d like, what would have to change for you to want to do yoga? I need to know…for reasons.

One Last Thought

giveup

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09/11/14

Run, Walk, Crawl

See those gorgeous medals right there? I’m SO excited to share them with you, and I hope I can encourage you to grab one for yourself. You see, here’s the thing. I don’t run anymore. It’s not news to anyone who has followed the blog for a while. But I DO like moving, getting some sunshine, and earning medals. I mean I really do. Since I’m out of the game for most races, I started getting into virtual medals because it meant a chance to get out and moving, and have some powerful motivation to do it.

Now it’s even more important, as next week begins my training to walk a half marathon in December. I’ve struggled with follow through in the past, so when I was offered the chance to blog for Jost Running (in exchange for a few months of their incredible medals) I jumped at the chance. Now I know I have some gorgeous bling to keep me motivated to train. On those days when I’m really not feeling like taking my training walk, it’s going to make all the difference to know that I can earn a nice shiny medal by getting out there for thirty minutes or an hour.

I know plenty of my runner friends are training for fall/winter races now, so I’m hoping the same can be true for them. The medals are big and beautiful, but they’re also a chance to support some really powerful causes. September’s SOARING medals, which you should get soon, are supporting Team For Kids.  From their website, “Team for Kids is a committed group of adult runners from around the world who add meaning to their miles by raising funds for NYRR’s Youth and Community Services programs while training for major endurance events. The funds they raise provide free or low-cost health and fitness programs to kids who would otherwise have little or no access to regular physical activity. These programs serve more than 200,000 children each year in more than 800 schools and community centers in New York City, across the nation, and around the world.” So every registration for a September medal is going to make a real impact in the life of a child. THAT is meaning. THAT is motivation.

Medals are for a 5K/10K or for a Half or Full Marathon. And if you’re not yet up for a September race? BEHOLD the beautiful October medals. GET THESE NOW on presale, because they sell out FAST. These crazy awesome medals (which are also bottle openers) are selling in support of Midwest Food Bank, which is “a faith based organization it is the mission of Midwest Food Bank to alleviate hunger and poverty by gathering and distributing food donations to not-for-profits and disaster sites without cost to the recipients.”

Even better? You don’t have to run. Walk. Bike. Swim. Get your community involved. Take your family around the block in their wagons and on their tricycles. Push a stroller or a wheelchair. Invite your neighbors to the park. Walk your dog. Just get your body moving and enjoy the gentler weather as fall starts to show up in most of the US.

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09/10/14

MPH@GW: Why #YogaMatters To Me

Sponsored by MPH@GW Public Health

GW’s Public Health blog reached out to ask how yoga has improved my health. Where to even begin? Regularly practicing yoga, which began in 10-15 minute intervals just a few times a week, has given me back so much. I started doing yoga seriously when I was medically directed to stop running thanks to compartment syndrome. At the same time, I stopped tracking calories and food because it was causing me mental stress and, frankly, making me neurotic about food, eating, and social activities. I took up yoga in the hopes of finding a new way to exercise.

What I found instead was so much more. I found peace. I found stillness in my always too busy head. I found a way to appreciate the incredible things my body could already do. I smiled at pictures of myself. I felt proud of my body again. despite all it might not do.

Yoga also had concrete physical benefits for me. With my very special auto-immune version of colitis, yoga gave me twisting and cleansing postures that helped ease the worst of the pains and even helped me cut off symptoms before they flared too badly. Yoga taught me that my issues with food, the size of my jeans, or what I thought I saw in the mirror didn’t matter, and then it went on to help me develop significant strength. Now I can hold a plank, do a pushup, and kickup into a forearm stand all because of yoga (and a little help from my ENELL bra…).

When I practice consistently, I’m calmer. Yoga breathing mediates stress from commuting, helps me get through hard days at work, and helps me recenter when it’s time to slough off the work day and spend time with my gorgeous family. Yoga has also given me an incredible special chance to bond with my daughter, who practices with me more often than not. She loves it when I let her call the poses, and she teaches me so much about patience and bravery and listening to my body when I’m practicing. When I practice beside her, I lose all sense of competition or reaching for that one white whale of a pose, because practicing with a five year old is all about laughter and joy, about silly poses and movement for it’s own sake, about mimicry and love.

Yoga has brought me a clearer understanding of how I want to define beauty, of what strength means to me, and how those things play out in my own body, mind, and life. It’s helped me see the importance of pursuing health instead of a particular aesthetic. Yoga has helped me dig up my own sense of awesome, renewed my confidence, and given me the chance to show off just how much I can do when I put my mind to it. It’s taught me about perseverance in practice, about living outside of my comfort zone and how important the difference is between that and pain. Thanks to yoga, and to the many inspiring yogis I follow online and through Instagram, I’ve made a habit of daily practice that serves as my meditation when all else fails. Also, I can do this:

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09/5/14

Hot Hot Heat

As I drove away from my first ever hot yoga class, made more amazing in that it was taught by my very favorite yogi, I realized something important, something I keep forgetting despite the power in it.

Yoga gives it all back. All the strength, the joy, the love and appreciation for my body…it all flooded in as I met my own gaze in the studio mirrors. I smiled, I sweated. I felt proud of what I could do, and no judgment about the things I can’t yet pull off. I was surrounded by other women, some incredibly tiny and thin, others lithe and capable, and every one of us just did what we could. I didn’t judge how much bigger my body was than the girls beside me, or how much farther from a handstand I was than the woman behind me. I noticed all of those things, of course, but with a passing interest. I was observing facts, not judging myself or anyone else.

Lest you think it was all bliss, I did get sweat in my eyes twice and figured out that pigtails get super gross when you sweat that much. Important lessons all around.

Still, I was so powerfully reminded of how much better my world is when a consistent yoga practice is present in my life. I thought about it in passing all weekend, considering the strength yoga imparts mentally and physically and how I tend to sleep and eat with more care when I’m spending time on the mat. Yoga taught me to love my body for all it could do, and then it went a step further and taught me to love my body for what it looked like, instead of despite it. Yoga taught me to find stillness, peace, quiet…to slow my chaotic thoughts and tune into body and soul.

I thought of this image, posted to the Curvy Yoga IG account a few days ago, and how I’d taken a screenshot and saved it to my phone for a while. I needed the reminder that the time I take for yoga isn’t selfish or wrong, but necessary to my health and wellbeing. It’s not just yoga either, but meditation and healthy food and fresh air too. Those things keep me sleeping better, feeling stronger. They make my mood lighter and keep my head in the right space to do my best work at home and in the office.

All in all, it took me 3 days, 12 hours, and 45 minutes to forget all of that. I didn’t make space for yoga this week. I didn’t meditate so far this week. In fact, I ate three packages of PopTarts while scrunching in front of my computer screen on Tuesday. I didn’t even take a break, except to run downstairs for a soda and some chips.

Now I’m two weeks away from the beginning of half marathon training, and I’m terrified of my lack of follow-through. I know I won’t be successful with the things I want to do physically if I can’t get my food under control. I know I need the right kind of fuel and energy in order to stay focused, work efficiently, sleep well, and be in a good mood.

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08/20/14
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How I Get What I Want

What do I really want?
1. To go to FitBloggin in Denver
2. To work from home at least one day per week
3. To become a yoga teacher
4. To compete in one strength competition, ideally the Disney Fit Challenge

How do I get those things?
1. Save money. This means I have to stop spending money on toys, incidentals, eating out, and unnecessary clothing purchases. Time to tighten the purse strings big time.
2. Work hard all the time. Meet or exceed deadlines. Take more initiative when it comes to learning more about the company. Come up with ideas and share them more often.
3. See #1, but also get back to regular daily practice as a priority. My time on the mat is necessary to being in the right mental and physical space for teacher training.
4. Keep up with my NF training. It will also help with yoga!

This weekend someone I care about spent several hours in the ER and, in fact, is still in the hospital. The person in question is alright, and wasn’t there for something anyone could ever claim was brought on by bad choices or unhealthy living or any such thing. Still, as I waited out that first night, my stomach a mess from a combination of stress and bad food choices, I couldn’t help but think about choices, health, the passage of time, and about all I want from this life. There are no guarantees, not ever, but maybe there is power in choices. Power to say you’ve done all you could. Power to put out into the universe the right energy to attract what you desire. Power to make a difference, however small or temporary, in the quality of your own life.

I’m caught up in thoughts about the importance of really listening, of making a connection with my true needs and honoring them above all else. It’s a path I’m already on, though one I stray from more often than not. So this week, I’m scrapping the big specific goals in favor of one single goal. This week, I will strive to live the life I deserve. I will do this by making choices that bring me genuine, lasting joy. I will listen to my body every chance I get, and I will remember that one moment or day or week of choices out of line with this path is simply another chance to learn more about how to more fully align.

I’m also working hard to align myself with things that matter, and that get me closer to the goals I have of aligning better with real joy. In part, this means forging relationships with some companies that are pretty dear to me in one way or another. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found a few things that help make living actively more enjoyable for me, and one of them is finding the right gear. Two years ago now I finally bit the bullet and spent real money on a real sports bra, instead of wearing 2-3 of the ones I found at Target or Walmart. The bra? An ENELL. Now I’ve been lucky enough to be chosen as an ambassador for the bras, and I can’t say enough. They’re the only ones that have ever worked for me. They’re super supportive, incredibly comfortable, and the only reason I can do a shoulder stand without suffocating.  More than that, it’s a company out there saying that just because I have a body that doesn’t fit a particular mold, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the chance to successfully and comfortably move in a way that really, truly brings me joy. THAT’s something I can really get behind. The more I thought about the ways I love to move, the ways that make my body truly happy, the more I realized how much of it was possible thanks to the support of this sports bra. Walking, yoga, strength training…it’s all so much easier with something that’s made for MY body, with the added bonus of doing less laundry since I’m not wearing 2-3 bras for every workout.

In the spirit of reaching out and moving more, I also reached out to be a blogger for Jost Running. I haven’t heard back on their decision yet, but I’m excited because it means extra motivation to get up and moving several times a month. Jost hosts virtual races every month, offering beautiful medals and donating proceeds to a different charity every month. I’ve signed up for their races before, and loved the bling and the donation. Now I’ve applied to blog for them for a few months, which means extra chances to encourage others to get up and moving, and great motivation to get me off the couch/office chair as well. And that should be perfect timing because…I’m probably walking a half marathon in December.

I haven’t signed up for the race yet. I want the idea to percolate for a while first, because I have a tendency to jump into these big plans without thinking them through well enough. I did look into a walking half training plan though, and even found a fellow ENELL ambassador who’s fairly local and might be able to meet me for the occasional training walk! I’ve always wanted to complete a half, and when running was no longer an option for me, I figured I would never be able to do it. When I found a local holiday-themed half that accepted walkers, it got me thinking again about finishing a half. If I decide to do it, my training plan would start in early September. I’m thinking I’ll stick to my 2-3 strength training workouts a week, alongside the 4-5 walking workouts for the half training, and scale my yoga back to shorter sessions on a more consistent basis instead of getting in 60-90 minutes but only once or twice a week.

I’ve also been sort of tracking my food lately. I haven’t tracked any amounts or anything, but instead have just been recording what I ate, when, and what thoughts or feelings were part of the choice. I found very quickly that my stress levels and boredom are the two biggest triggers for bad food choices, but that the other key was access. I won’t go buy bad food if I’m at work. I won’t leave the house to go get something bad for me. If, however, it’s already there…I’ll probably consume the entire bag/box/package. So as long as I’m a little more careful about what I keep nearby, I should have an easier time (particularly at work) with controlling emotion-fueled food intake.

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08/12/14
8-11-2014 2-34-37 PM

Wrong, Right, and Everything Else

8-11-2014 2-34-37 PMDay 1

What went wrong:

  1. I made it until 1:45 before I had a near break down in the kitchen and ate some PopTarts. So… that went badly.
  2. I also slept awfully last night so my plan for morning workouts was a bust too.
  3. The PopTarts led to four whole wheat fig bars.
  4. I stayed up way too late reading.

What went well:

  1. I only had two cups of coffee.
  2. I drank way more water than I usually do.
  3. I had a super healthy lunch.
  4. I started out the morning with meditation.

Day 2

What went wrong:

  1. Dog poop. Cell phone won’t turn on. Running late.
  2. Waffle taco. Two bites. SO awful.
  3. Another fig bar.

What went well:

  1. Only two cups of coffee.
  2. Lots of veggies at lunch.
  3. Another morning meditation.
  • The present moment is eternal because it endlessly renews itself.
  • Inspiration is just another word for renewal.

What else there is:

I’m feeling delicate, and frankly I have been for a while now. I know it means that something has to change, but I don’t know what. More than delicate, I’m finding the instances in which I think “I am sad” (versus ‘I FEEL sad’) are increasing overall, which concerns me because it means I’m missing something…some sign, some signal.

dcc891ad0b4cfe5c04c504ca894bc111I’m having thoughts around dieting and weight loss again. It’s my go-to for when I don’t feel like I have control. Pics like this one tend to make me feel a little more that way sometimes. I know that if I did a certain set of things – a certain way of eating, a certain way of moving, I would lose weight. I wouldn’t be any happier, perhaps, but I would lose weight and some part of me, after so many years chasing that goal, would count that as a success. It’s also a reaction to being frustrated lately. No matter how many ways I come at it, how many tactics I attempt when it comes to making the food and movement choices that make me feel my best…it just keeps not happening. I set big goals, and then I just don’t. I eat PopTarts and read until 1am, wake up exhausted, drink too much coffee, and repeat. I watch people around me have success in meeting their goals, and I just…don’t. I tried shifting my goals. I tried focus on interior changes. I tried taking baby steps, then super baby steps, then nearly invisible steps, and I keep falling back into the same pattern of eating and (not) moving that just make the tired and cranky worse. The less I get off the couch, the harder it is to get off the couch. But the thing is? I hate getting off the couch. I seriously do. I want to sit and read and watch movies. I want to type and surf the internet and put my feet up. I always have wanted that. Sometimes I find interludes of a particular type of movement that keeps me motivated for days or weeks…and then I settle back into my preferred lack of movement.

But is that really what I prefer? I don’t feel better when I don’t move. I’m more tired, less secure in my own skin. And as I’ve previously established, the eating is about both confidence and control as well. I eat poorly when I feel insecure, when things feel too easily shifted or when I’m questioning my own abilities.

I feel like I have spent my entire life trying to break out of this routine, trying to eat right and exercise in ways I don’t completely hate. I just keep trying and trying and trying and I never succeed. I know it’s not a race, not something with a final end goal, but I never make progress. I don’t get stronger, I don’t get leaner. Not in a sustainable way or in the long term. I’m tired. I’m tired of constantly pushing to go workout when I’d rather do anything else. I’m tired of considering everything I put into my mouth because I can’t be sure without examination what’s behind the food choice I’m making.

I don’t want to be tired all the time. I don’t want to be short tempered. I don’t want to be more and more sad. I don’t want to give up on the things I believe are best for me. I really, honestly feel better when I’m making healthy choices. I just don’t know how to sustain it. I don’t know how to make it work long term. There always comes a point when I step away and then I can’t get back. I took last week off, and now I have even less motivation to do anything.

I don’t think I have a point here, and I’m pretty sure at this point I’m talking in circles…so that’s what I’ve got for now. I guess… I don’t know. Maybe I’m asking for help. Again.

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