Mental Work

Hi everyone!

Last week, I finally started my meditation- my new mental workout.

In recent years, meditation has become a hot topic to study-and the findings show that it can help a wide range of people and health issues.

I’ve had a few apps on my phone that I’d listen to while doing things. Mostly to see if I liked the app or the voice. After some research, I decided to try out Headspace. This app has animations, tips, and it can be customized to fit to your lifestyle. Andy, one of the creators and the voice for each day, is soft and yet not too “dreamy”. The only downside is that is costs a monthly fee.


Personally, I decided to start meditating because I find myself too busy in my mind. If I’m sitting somewhere beautiful or having a casual conversation with someone, I’m also thinking of today, tomorrow, the things I need to do, the things I need to be better at, how to make more money, getting ready for school, etc. Lately, my attention to detail seems off and I’m not actually ever relaxed. When I finally lay down at night for bed, I can feel my body slowly releasing tension. I attribute a lot of my scatter brain to my phone. Everything is instant and quick. Information is best seen in blurbs. I’ve made a consciences decision to make limit my digital intake in the morning and while in bed. Now, I listen to podcasts while I get ready in the morning,

So, the big question is: how’s it going so far?

Well… honestly? It’s really hard. I like that I’m spending time out of my day to try and get grounded and take care of myself. Headspace is very calming and even though I’m not anywhere close to stillness of the mind, I don’t feel like I’m being judged. It’s actually been very interesting as far as processing certain emotions I’ve been ignoring. I’m currently on day 8 and after reading MindBodyGreen’s post on meditating for 100 days and the differences the witter say. Needless to say, I was jealous.

My goal is to make it 100 days! I’ll try to update it at the 30 day mark. Wish me luck! And please, please, please check out headspace!

Have a wonderful day!

Ashtanga Primary Series 

Happy Monday everyone! (Well, hopefully its happy for you- it’s 95° for me!!) 

Summer is approaching quickly, the last day of school is almost here!!! As I begin to switch into summer camp mode with the kids, the excitement/fear/stress/anticipation for school is more and more present as I try to figure out what’s next. My hope is to be able to work part time and survive school while still running the occasional race/adventuring/gymlife/keeping my sanity. Yeah I know, good luck, right? 

Ideally, I would love to work in a gym environment. If I could have a few clients, maybe teach a class- I would be more than extatic. Unfortunately, life always goes a little off roads. So, I’m thinking of back up plan. 

Now I know you’re thinking “why settle?! Why not just do it all?!” And believe me, I want to. It’s just nice to have a safety net is all.  

Back in the original dream- I’ve been trying to sub and teach my yoga classes in the area. The school that I went through for my 200hr offers a yoga like no other! If I can memorize it, I can bring it to so many studios! The real challenge is marketing myself and finding a studio with prime times for teaching plus having a diverse clientele. 

The primary series postures

So here is my goal, and hopefully I gave myself an appropriate length of time to complete it: 

I would like to memorize the ashtanga primary series breath by breath from start to finish… 

by the end of this summer! 

What’s ashtanga? Check out this awesome one hour video: 

 https://youtu.be/2wYN1IhnXT4 

It’s a somewhat condensed primary series with the breath by breath instruction. The whole class generally takes an hour and twenty minutes. 

Stay tuned for my first 10k later this month! 

Have a wonderful day! 

Protein Push

Hey everyone!

As much as I love winter, this one seemed especially long and lonesome. I had a hard time hitting the slopes, and it was too cold and dark to run outside. My never ending love-hate relationship with the treadmill motivated me to sign up for a few road races. I may or may not have gotten carried away though…

  1. April 30th- (Cheshire, CT) Ion Bank Half Marathon
  2. May 20th- (Stowe, VT) Craft Brew 5k
  3. May 28th- (Burlington, VT) Vermont City Marathon Relay
  4. June 25th- (Boston, MA) B.A.A 10k
  5. July 4th- (Bridgeton, ME) Four on the Fourth 4 Mile
  6. July 9th- (Palmerton, PA) Spartan Super
  7. August 19th- (Boston, MA) Night Run 5k
  8. September 16th- (Killington, VT) Spartan Beast
  9. October 1st- (Long Island, NY) Divas Running Series Half Marathon
  10. November 5th- (Fenway Park, MA) Spartan Sprint
  11. November 23rd-(TBA) Turkey Trot 5k

In my attempts to train, I’ve begun to notice a considerable deficit in my protein intake. Has anyone else noticed how hard it is to eat protein all day?! Before really examining my necessary intake for optimal outcome, I was beginning to feel lethargic and really run down. I’ve always been a sound sleeper but for a while I was tossing and turning all night. It’s only been a few days of really watching my gram intake and I already feel a lot better.

I know I am a huge MFP (MyFitnessPal) promoter, but I really believe it is the best educational tool out there for food and nutrition. When I was running, I had the macros calculated to focus on carbs. Now that I’m cross training and exercising for at least one hour a day, I recalibrated my needs. Currently, I should be consuming:

  • 165g (40%) of Carbs
  • 124g (30%) of Protein
  •  55g (30%) of Fat

*Percentages based off a 1,700 caloric intake*

THAT IS SO MUCH PROTEIN!

124g is the equivalent of roughly: 29 pieces of thick cut bacon, 20 hard boiled eggs, 3.5 pounds of bison, 10 scoops of Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein, 4.75 cups of low fat Cabot cottage cheese, or 77.5 medium sized shrimp.

shrimp

I think I have my work cut out for me as far as finding creative recipes… It’s been difficult due to the food restrictions I have at my job (we have a lot of obscure allergies). Once I get a little more comfortable in the kitchen, I’ll try to start sharing helpful recipes.

Hope you all have a great day!

 

Chin Stand 

Hey everyone! 

I went to a new yoga class in Essex, Vermont where I was delightfully pushed out of my comfort zone with a pose I’ve been scared to try. So, I wanted to share it with you all- the chin stand. 


Now, I know that this pose doesn’t sound particularly comfortable, but it feels a lot different than it looks! 

First off, because of my history of neck issues, I’m always afraid to do poses that require my head to stretch far back (i.e. Neck rolls that require you to look up at the ceiling). I was afraid of this pose because of the amount of body weight I thought would be on my chin. Keeping that in mind, I was super hesitant when the teacher began talking about the chin stand prep. While she was talking, I realized that the prep was really important for success and comfort in the pose. This is how I got there: 

  1. Come into high plank with your hands a little closer together than normal.
  2. Shift your weight forward so that your head is further from your hands and your more on the ball of your feet.
  3. Lower down so that your elbows are under your hips, your chin is on the floor, but your bottom is still high up. 
  4. Lift one leg up in the air. Then, try to gently kick the other one to meet it. This requires a lot of core engagement and awareness of whether your backside is sinking down or not. 
  5. Once you’ve successfully gotten both fee in the air, keep pushing your legs higher and higher while also being mindful of how close they are. 
  6. Optional scorpion! 

Hope you all find this as rewarding as I did! 

The Year of the Handstand

For a year or so now, I have been trying to work my way up to a yoga handstand- not to be confused with a gymnastics handstand.

What’s the difference? 

A gymnastic handstand starts in an upright position, using momentum as you put your hands to the ground and kick up. This is something that is a little easier (at least for me).

A yoga handstand uses significantly less momentum (unless your still learning) and more core strength. You start in down dog, and then either kick one leg up/ flex your abs to bring your legs up. Then you hold here or start doing crazy things with your legs.

This has been a challenge for me, but I will be able to do this by the end of 2017. I set aside 5 minutes every day to practice and I see small results, but non the less it is improvement!

There is a natural progression that can be used to work your way up to handstand. Headstand is easiest, then forearm stand, and then finally handstand. This is because the base of each posture starts from a larger area, to a smaller one.

Things that I have also found helpful in my journey is back/shoulder/arm exercises as well as making sure these areas aren’t too tight. Push ups, down dog push ups and tricep pushups have been very useful. I have a lot of neck tightness that also seems to get in the way. The whole body needs to be one beautiful line- from your head to your toes.

If you have never inverted before (fancy way of saying “gone upside down”). Headstand is where you should start. Some people just really really really don’t like being upside down for one reason or another- and that is always okay. For those of you who do like it, here is how you start:

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Tripod Pose

Tripod Pose is a great introduction. It helps your head feel the entire weight of your body and shows that a straight body will keep you upright.

To start, find a solid surface with no lumps or bumps.

  1. Place your head on the ground and your hands, palms to the floor, inline with your armpits
  2. Flex your abs as you work towards putting your right knee on your right elbow and then your left knee on your left elbow. Note: the second side you do will want to come up as soon as you have your first elbow to knee, this is where balance may be lost.
  3. Once achieved, hold your body here and work on strengthening and straitening.

Once this pose feels solid, begin to work on pressing the legs up slowly while using your abs to keep everything as still as you can.

I follow a lot of inspirational yogis on instagram, and it’s always nice to see that even they need to work on technique and postures.

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Fitness Fun: Rock Climbing

 

Hello everyone 🙂

I make it an un official rule for myself that I need to find active hobbies that are fun, and not another means of exercise. Recently, I have really been drawn to rick climbing! I enjoy the mental and physical challenge each wall brings. I feel that every wall I finish, I gain more insight in how to play this “chess” game.

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I think I’ve gone once or twice as a kid, but last year we went at work (with all the kiddos), and I really enjoyed watching them and getting a chance to try one or two wall myself. I’ve gone back enough times now that I’ve slowly invested in all the gear you need. I will, however, say that shoes is the best thing to buy first.

Good shoes= better climbing

The most underworked muscles I feel afterwards are my forearms- from all that grabbing holding, as well as my lats (near your armpit/ rib area), and my trapezius (the large diamond shaped muscle that starts at your neck, and end at your mid back). I have a very difficult time mimicking the same level of soreness when I go to the gym.

Keeping that in mind, rock climbing it actually a total body activity. If you pull yourself up with your arms, you’re sure to burn out fast. The arms determine the route you take while the legs power you up the wall. It is important to realize before getting in the bad habit of neglecting to use the strength in your legs.

I think that climbing has really helped me with upper body work. I don’t go enough to consider it an actual workout, but it helps me with my gym exercises in grip technique as well as expanding my repertoire of upper body workouts. I’m hoping that the strength from here helps me with my fist spartan of the year: Spartan Super in Palmerton, PA.

Hope you all have a nice long weekend 🙂

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Treadmill Running: A Survival Guide 

Hey everyone! 

Between winter, safety, and adequate light source- I have been forced to take my running inside. 

I don’t know about anyone else, but I really can’t stand treadmill running. I feel limited and tired. The run is just a chore. 

If you feel like me, here’s how I keep my sanity:

  • Entertainment. Netflix movie (yes, movie), book on tape, podcast- whatever keeps you focused. If you space out too much, you might lose your posture. It’s also helpful for those (like myself) who enjoy the adventure in a run and don’t usually plan the course before they start. 
  • Realistic settings. This sucks, a lot. If you want to be honest with yourself and your training, you need to set an incline of .5 to 1.0. This makes up for wind resistance and slight elevation even on your flattest 5k course. It also helps significantly with shin splints. 
  • Patients. It’s a serious adjustment for most people. The surface is different, air quailities in a gym might not be as great. That super gross sweaty guy running next to you and the fear that some of that sweat might land on you… just know that this too will make you a better runner. 

Hope this helps! Good luck everyone 🙂 

Logging Workouts 

Happy Holidays!!

I hope you all had some nice relaxing family time!

In the midst of the holiday sweat-fest, I’ve started to notice something at my gym. Several people have been carrying around notebooks. As a trainer, I had my notebook/ index cards to keep track of my clients, but for my own personal workouts I log them on My Fitness Pal! Yes, MFP is my favorite fitness companion.

Let me tell you why-

The best part for me (besides logging water intake) is the ability to create your own exercise names to log under the “exercise” tab. I have some pretty unique names.


It’s free, it’s super easy to make an account, and very user friendly! Since I’ve started using this app, my weight progression has increased exponentially and my workout experience overall has been enhanced significantly!

Hope this helps 🙂

 

Deadlifts and Backbends

Happy post-Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone ate plenty and slept well 🙂

The past few years I have dragged my cousins out of bed early to run a turkey trot of our own. This year, more cousins joined us, we made shirts, and I woke up early to spray paint mile markers while strangers walked by and commented on how I was ruining the environment (it rained later that day and most of the paint is already gone, so don’t worry). Fifteen of us set our own personal timers and walked or ran. So much fun!

In other news, I’ve implemented deadlifting into my routine and I’ve noticed and improvement in my backbends!

First let me start off with how my lower back has been. I used to sleep on my stomach and I would wake up every morning with a tight lower back. It wasn’t terrible, just tight. Sometimes I would feel it more when I had run farther the day before. A few months ago I trained myself to sleep on my back, by talking to myself before falling asleep. Yes, I really spoke out loud to myself before falling asleep in the dark in my bed. I picked the mantra “Sleeping on your stomach is bad for your back, sleeping on your back is good for your posture”. I said this 10 times right before I fell asleep for two weeks. Crazy as it sounds, it totally worked!

Even with my acute back pain, I have a very flexible lower back. My full bridge pose is comfortable, and I am beyond camel pose to thunderbolt pose.

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Little Thunderbolt Pose.jpg

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Enter the deadlift.

Deadlifting is a strength training exercise for hamstrings in a quad dominant world. Many people are quad dominant for a number of reasons: posture during lower leg workouts is a big one. First off, make sure you are focusing on your hamstrings in lower leg exercises that call for a recruitment of both sides of the thigh- squats, lunges, etc. Once you feel confident in that awareness, try the deadlift!

Deadlift rules:

  1. Go light to start– yes, you read that right. I’m not saying start with a 10lb flat bar, I mean start with either just the 45lb barbell with maybe 5-10lbs on top. This is for your form. If you start at a heavier weight, you may tweak your back while trying to finish the last few reps. Try a lighter weight so that you can keep the hamstring awareness and also focus on the next few points.
  2. Do a Kegel– yup, that’s right too. This is much easier for women to do. How to do one? (man or woman) next time you need to pee, start and stop your stream before finishing. This helps engage the pelvic floor. Work on this tightening and releasing while maintaining a relatively normal breathing pattern.
  3. This exercise is the reason why they tell you to lift objects with your legs. If you try to hinge at your hips, you will hurt your back.
  4. Roll your shoulders at the top to not only show off your proud chest, but to help maintain a good posture at the top of the lift.
  5. Inhale lift, exhale lower.

The set up:

Approach the bar and stand so your feet are pointing 45 degrees out and the laces are under the bar. Your feet should be hip width distance apart. Squat down until your arms can grab the bar, flipping one hand for an overhand grip and one for an underhand grip. Remember that this is a leg lifting exercise, do not hinge from your back or you’ll really feel it the next day! Keeping your arms strait, rise all the way up and roll your shoulders back. Pause. Lower. Repeat

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Currently, I am on 3 sets of 12 reps with 70lbs. It’s not a lot, but I did practice with the bar before I added weight just to make sure my posture was correct. The results I’ve noticed in one month is the stability I have in backbends and in my posture in general. I can use other parts of my body so I don’t compress my spine when I’m doing any sort of back yoga posture (locust, bow, frog, etc.)

Have a nice Sunday!

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Stress, Hormones, and the Confessions of a Hot Mess 

I’ve become increasingly more aware on the curse of being trapped in a routine. Don’t get me wrong, routines can be great sometimes!! They are safe and predictable. You can prepare ahead for your next day events and you know exactly what to expect. The downside of a routine? It becomes increasingly hard to change once you’ve settled in. 

Since moving home (which will be exactly one year in October), I have established and edited a nice little set up for myself. Everything is color coded on my iCalendar to show me the bright and cheery path for my day. I thought everything was great until one day, I had to skip my usually morning workout to run some errands and I freaked out. No, I’m not exaggerating. I was so anxious and upset because I couldn’t go for one workout. I workout every day, physically it is no problem to take one off. Mentally, well that’s another story. 

Since then, I have been a lot more aware of my stress level. If I have another section of time blocked off for something and I can’t get to it when I scheduled it, I have a really hard time being okay with that. Not surprisingly, my yoga has been a bit neglected. I can’t feel fluid. 

Yesterday I was driving home from Maine (a 3.5 hour drive with some traffic) and I had what I call a “so tired from driving your mind begins to go introspective” epiphany: I need to change things up.

I don’t have the most stressful job, but it feels that way with all the toxic stress I deal with. I have to come in, guns blazing, every single day or else someone tramples over me. “Well, why don’t you quit?” Good question. I can’t quite because I have no real excuse to leave- besides the pointless drama. I work full time, get paid enough to make a dent my student loans, and I get to color. It’s not a bad gig for my current situation.

I decided to do two things that instantly made me feel better: 

1. I started looking into my hormones. Maybe my thyroid meds are throwing me off? Dr. Sara Gottfried has posted many articles and webinars on getting to know your hormones and how to deal with imbalance. Mindbodygreen.com has her Hormonal Imbalance video series and it has been very eye opening. (While it is aimed more towards women, I encourage anyone to listen to the part where she describes how all hormones relate and work together.) What I thought was a thyroid problem was actually a high cortisol level- always anxious or stressed. 

So, I’m always in stress mode. What do I do? Get my life together and find the real source of my stress. 


2.I bought the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. It is not very lengthy, but it holds a lot of valuable information and advice on “keeping your house in order”- which means “cleaning out all the crap in your house and letting go of the emotional attachment you have to things you don’t use or wear”. It’s very liberating to hear someone tell you that it’s okay to donate that sweater someone bought you that you never wore, or that you are allowed to ditch the projects you never got around to finishing. I have an obscene amount of clothes and items I don’t use but hold on to and I finally was able to hold each item in my hand and figure out whether it sparked joy, NOT whether I’ll need it or maybe use it one day. 

These two things in the span of one week have made me feel so much better about my life. Before, my room was a mess, I was always forgetting things, and my life felt rushed. Well, my room is an even bigger mess now hah, but I feel good about all my progress. 

I even had the clarity to blog! Which I miss doing. 

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend! ❤