Oh, The Places You’ll Go

Pigeon-Pose

I was in extended pigeon pose (eka pada rajakapotasana) the other day during class and was thinking about the obstacles I’ve overcome and the motivation I found along the way to where I am now. Motivation is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s an inward push, where you get the feeling that “this path is right”. It could be a path branching towards your true purpose, or something that just makes you feel at peace.There are also forces outside ourselves that jerk us around like a windstorm. You have to fight through the voices to truly hear the right one calling your name.

Right now, in this present time, I have made some pretty big accomplishments. I am a college graduate with a BA in sociology, an ACE certified personal trainer, three jobs, and now on my way to getting my 200hr yoga certification from the yoga alliance. But how did I get here?

I guess I’ll have to back up a bit, to the year 2010.

High School. I was lazy and overweight. I didn’t play any sports. The most exercise I got was winter skiing, and my family didn’t go much. Freshman year of high school was the heaviest time of my life! I weight at least 20 lbs less now. The clothes I wore senior year of high school are far too large and were all boxed up and sent to Good Will.

Roger Williams University, RI. I did not have a good time. My roommate was a drug dealer (nice girl, but pretty dirty), I wasn’t really interested in the thriving binge drinking scene, and my only friends were a girl I connected with from high school and my long time boyfriend. Transferring schools was the first time I really had to self advocate. I did not want to be associated with a school that uses administrative power to try and place false blame. I said so-long to Rhode Island and headed up to the Green Mountains.

First semester at UVM. My longtime boyfriend and I broke up, my grandmother died, and a family member was diagnosed with cancer- rough start right? I was new and over 200 miles away from my parents. The break up was pretty hard since we had been so close for over 4 years. The only thing that seemed to help was walking to clear my mind and explore my new school and the surrounding town of Burlington. What started out as one girl trying to get a sense of her life and her surroundings, turned into a regular weekend thing. Sometimes 10 of us would roam around for hours late into the night- “adventure walking” and having deep meaningful conversations. It was actually really cool. I met some interesting people and learned how once you get someone to start walking, their mind starts turning, and they just start telling their life story. I started working on going to the gym and getting in better shape for those walks. My current boyfriend and I actually met on a 13 mile adventure walk.

Junior year of UVM. The old boyfriend and I tried to get back together, but it just didn’t feel like it used to. The break up was really rough, and very dragged out. Instead of walking, this time I decided to run from it. Literally. I trained for my first 13.1 and realized that this was how I was supposed to feel- healthy and whole. Running, yoga, and gaining a true sense of self and respect for what I am doing and everything that I can do.

August 9th 2013. Cancer. I don’t think I will ever forget the moment I was told I had thyroid cancer. More so the emptiness of pushing my feelings outside myself. Here I was- fit, healthy, really feeling proud of my hard work, and most importantly I was my own person. But then cancer came and rocked the boat. Its surprising how bad news can really test the  foundation of  relationships. I counted and relied on people to just let me figure out cancer, my senior year, and how to cope with two major things simultaneously- but that’s not how they wanted to deal with my cancer. When it seemed like I didn’t have a friend in the world, I always knew I had my safe space on my mat- and then out on the street once I was cleared to run again. My living situation was also very toxic. I needed to heal and this dark energy was just in the room across the hall (if you read my cancer blog, you’ll hear all about “it”). While everyone else was closing in on their final year of college, I was just trying to keep composure and continue to keep my heath up. Yoga helped me after surgery and running kept me sane. I totally revamped my life and dropped all the unnecessary baggage. Through out this trying time I found the cathartic and relaxing properties of fitness and I want to share those with people so they too can heal.

It was funny reexamine the past with the the knowledge I have now and to focus on one concept through time. When I look back on some of these major events, I visualize a scattered timeline with pins and string connecting the moments and the thoughts that catalyzed my journey to today.

So that’s how I got here, following what I know is right for me. Taking the positive motivation from the chaos.  If it wasn’t for rocky friends, sickness, heartache, and the right kind of people finally coming into my life, I might not have figured out my passion so early.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

Dr. Seuss “Oh, The Place You’ll Go”

A Cup of Tea

Hey everyone!

Working at Teavana has been pretty cool. There are all sorts of gadgets and tea sets that really turn a cup of tea into a cultural and scientific experience. The other really great thing about working here is that I get to learn about the serious benefits from drinking tea, and what different teas do for your health. Since cold season is upon us, I’ve been drinking 5-6 cups a day!  It’s really been helping me, my cough, and my immune system!

I thought I would share/remind people how to make a really good cup of tea to unleash it’s true potential. Maybe you all can avoid getting sick like I am.

I know, I know. This will probably come off like a sales pitch since I work there, but it’s not!

Working at a loose leaf tea shop has changed my idea of tea from a simple, non-coffee, warm beverage to a cup of health boosting, beautifully hand crafted drink that should be made with care for the best effects. Each tea blend really has it’s own scent and many combine well with others for plenty of variety. I’m always trying different combinations. It’s nice to look into the tea bin and recognize tea leaves, fruits and other spices- a natural looking product that doesn’t have any weird or chemical sounding names. The loose leaf teas have a shelf life of up to a year if you keep them sealed tight and out of sunlight (probably closer to two years if you keep really good care) . I believe tea that comes in a bag is also good up to two years since it is boxed and vacuumed sealed in the individual bags.

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Loose leaf tea comes in a variety of colors and shapes. Some are hand rolled, or flattened while others are exposed to different amounts of lights.

What tea, green tea, black tea, and oolong tea (at least at Teavana) are derived from the Camellia Sinesis plant. The difference is how they are harvested- resulting in varied health effects. The tea with the highest amount of antioxidants is the white tea, because it is not exposed to oxygen or sunlight for very long. Black tea has lost of caffeine but low levels of antioxidants because it is left out to dry in the sun. That’s why it looks black. Fun fact: real; herbal tea is technically “fruit infused hot water”. Teavana’s herbal teas contain fruits and spices- not tea leaves. that means herbal tea is much harder to burn! Since the leaf (in whatever state) is so fragile, it’s crucial to be meticulous about the cooking temperature and the brewing time. You can burn white teas, green teas, oolong teas, and other types if you’re not careful of these two important factors.

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The Youthberry Wild Orange Blossom is great hot or cold.

 

Making White Tea

what you’ll need:

  • Tea. I really like the Youthberry Orange Blossom mix that is usually on the sample cart.
  • a tsb or an 1/8 measuring cup (more tea= more flavor)
  • a strainer with tiny holes
  • a cup
  • a pot filled with water
  • ice cubes
  • a timer

Instructions

  1. Turn the stove top on and bring the water to just boiling- when the bubbles just start to rise. It’s easier to see this happening than in a teapot.
  2. pour water into the cup, but leave room for the strainer’s water displacement *hot teal always goes in the cup first, if you pour hot water over the strainer, it does not allow the tea to unfold naturally*
  3. throw in 1-2 large ice cube, or 2-4 small ones. You want the water to be about 175° degrees. If you aren’t sure, throw in another ice cube- you can also put sugar in if you wish. It’s always better to be a little colder than a little hotter.
  4. put the Orange Wild in the strainer and place the strainer in the cup for at least 3 minutes. Then, add theYouthberry white tea and steep for no more than 2 minutes.

Enjoy!

These directions can be found on the back of any paper bag from Teavana for any type of tea they sell. I have just elaborated on them. 

 

More Than Just Stretching

What do you think of when you hear the word yoga?

Is it a time to stretch? A time to get connected to your inner self? Or that class that lets you nap for 5-10 minutes at the end?

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Yoga has been westernized over the years. Starting off as a somewhat religious practice and becoming an increasingly popular gym class.

Historically, yoga was more than just a particular teaching. Yoga was a way of life, a culture, and a lifestyle which encompassed not just techniques, practices or ideas, but also eating habits, bathing habits, prayer, social interactions, and work.

Yoga included a vast body of ‘attitudes toward being’ an ingrained sense of morality and ethics.. [and it] was the bedrock of the personal- social- cosmic order which developed in that part of the earth known as Bharata, India.

[Therefore] is is in the ancient Samskrithi (culture) of Baharata that origin of yoga is to be found.

Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, Returning to the Roots; Classical Yoga

At the end of most practices, the session is closed with the sound of OM. This is the combined resonant tone of the life force that fills the infinite living universe. The whole being responds the the resonating tone.

There are six major branches of yoga (and then subsequent sub-branches)

  1. Hatha Yogayoga of postures. This type of yoga is mos popular branch of yoga in the West. It is comprised of poses (asanas), breathing techniques (paranayama) and meditation. Hatha is a great way to stay healthy and get in touch with your inner spirit. Styles: Iyengar, Integral, Astanga, Kripalu, Jiva Mukti, and others.
  2. Bhakti Yogayoga of devotion. This yoga is mostly popular in India. Yogis who practice this branch see the “one” or the “divine” in everyone and everything. The teaching is focused on devoting the heart and soul to Brahma by developing a person’s love and acceptance for all things.
  3. Raja Yogayoga of the self- control. Raja means “royal” hence Raja is known as the king of yoga. This branch is usually full of religious and spiritual individuals. It’s teaching is based on the 8 limbs of yoga originating from the yoga sutras. Raja yoga sees the self as central, respecting oneself and the creation to this vital path.
  4. Jnana Yoga- yoga of the mind. This yoga focuses on the mind and therefore man’s intelligence. Yogis consider wisodm and intellect as important and aim to unify the two. They are open to religions and philosophies. having an open mind is crucial to knowing the inner spirit.
  5.  Karma Yogayoga of the service. Karma is the belief that your present situation is based on your past actions. By participating in selfless acts now, your choosing a future that is free from negativity and selfishness. Changing your attitude and thoughts and ultimately change your destiny.
  6. Tantra Yogayoga of the rituals. Tantric yoga is known primarily for the sexual component to the practice, when in reality, this yoga is more about using rituals to experience what is sacred. Although sex is a part of it, it is not a main focus.  those who want to follow this branch must posses certain qualities like purity, humility, devotion, dedication to the guru, cosmic love, and truthfulness to name a few.

Yoga is misunderstood as a religion, when in reality it seems more like a way to find your spirituality. People of all sorts of faith practice to get a deeper understanding of the true inner self.

Another misconception is that it is an exercise to keep fit. Yes, yoga does help strengthen the body and keep a person healthy, but it means so much more. Yoga takes your body through a physical, mental, and spiritual growth every time you come to your practice.

Thank you Don Conreux and abc of yoga 

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I’ve really been playing with the idea to start yoga training. After my thyroid cancer surgery, my neck was super stiff. I couldn’t hardly look to my left and sleeping was a nightmare. My whole arm was also tight. Yoga helped me not only loosen up, but feel good about myself and allowed me to let go of my present situation. Like personal training, I think it would be really great to share the experience I’ve had with yoga to others. I’ve decided to officially start my yoga teaching journey through the Yoga Alliance program offered at Yoga Vermont here in Burlington. I’m very excited and and a bit nervous!

I was browsing the web while working the desk at HammerFit when I found this cool article about the effects yoga has on your body. I found this article from another article talking about Jennifer Aniston and how she looks so good for 45. it was actually pretty funny and insightful. She valued getting in touch with the inner self- “Get to therapy. Clean all that shit up”.

And now I leave you all with some yoga humor.

Namaste ❤ 

Time Management-Revamped

Hello everyone!

I’ve posted before about time management and provided some examples of my week to week and monthly workout plan, but this time I wanted to provide you with the means to do it yourself. I have been having some issues and decided to be a little more thorough this time. I filed with under “Workouts” because it has to do with scheduling in your workouts as well as giving yourself a little downtime.

The Play-By-Play

Most of us have some sort of normalcy to our work/school/ life schedule. Book club is always on Thursday at 8 pm. Psych 100 is on Mondays and Fridays from 11a m-1:30 pm. You get my drift. Of course life comes up and there are unexpected events that happen and disrupt your normal day. It’s important (especially if you’re just starting to work out or are seriously changing your schedule around) that you manage your time efficiently. I really enjoy color coding different blocked off times. that way I can give a quick glance to my week and known that I’m totally booked Fridays and may want that to be my rest day. Its imprtant to give yourself those 3-4 workouts a week- whether it be a nice run, that fun kickboxing class you’ve been wanting to try, getting your groove on with the weights, or even 30 minutes to stretch and relax. That’s your time to be with your body and let the stress fade away.

This is the weekly template I like to use.

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One Month at a Time 

Sometimes looking at a 6 month workout plan all clumped together seems a little discouraging. Going month-by-month can help with the short term goals within a longer span of training. If you have a goal to lose 20 lbs in 4 months, have a weight in at the end of each month. Breaking down the mountain into a few little hills makes the task far less daunting!

Here is a totally blank one month print-out.

 

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Hopefully you all find this helpful!

The Race for Human Kind: NH

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Things suddenly picked up and these past two weeks I feel like I’ve been rushing rushing rushing!

Let me catch you all up a bit-

My poor car has been giving me such grief. First the breaks, then a flat tire that resulted in me getting towed the night before my 5am gym shift (ugh what timing!). On top of that, I was getting some serious hours from Athleta until something with payroll occurred. Anyone working part time has been schedule for 9 hours this week. I really enjoy having a schedule set, so this has been a bit frustrating to work with. Not to mention my student loan payments start next month and working 50+ hours is how I was planning on paying for rent, loans, food, and gas.

As for the rest? I won’t lie to you dear reader. It’s been pretty tough finding time to go to the gym or even time and money for a decent meal. I really feel myself growing unhealthy and less happy. I sat down on Friday and made myself a weekly time organizer and a monthly workout plan. It’s time to “reinvent my fitness wheel”.

It finally happened! SMUTTY NOSE 2014!!! 

I was able to donate $245 dollars on my fundraising page! (hence the name of the post)

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The race had over 4,00 participants. It took me almost 9 minutes to cross the starting line! The weather was beautiful, the energy was high, and the course was fantastic which seriously made up for my worst running time I hope to ever get! The map provided on the race website was not updated, so the pre-race drive through I did with my family was a little different than race day, but non the less, the course was great! I think there were maybe two hills. One was short and sweet, the other winded through some back neighborhoods. I cannot express how much I enjoyed running along the ocean!

As for the technical aspect of my race, I decided on a different goal than a PR- since I didn’t feel very prepared, I decided to focus more on listening to my body. My three main goals of this race were:

  1. finish under 3 hours (narrowly missed by 15 minutes)
  2. to not be last
  3. to run to recover

The last one was the main goal. Between the severe chills, blisters, and stomach pains- running long distances seemed like a gamble. Fortunately for this race, they had water stations and Gatorade stations almost every 2.5 miles. I thought maybe that would suffice in helping me with my electrolytes, but at mile 6 someone handed me a gel pack.

Now, I don’t have much experience with gels and goo, but I wasn’t going to say no if they were handing out for free. I have heard a lot of long distance runners talk about their snacks but never tried them before. The flavor was vanilla and the texture was awful. I don’t even know what to compare it to. Thick jelly? petroleum? I stopped running in the hopes that this bizarre goop didn’t decide to come back up while my stomach was juggling from running. I ate it pretty slowly from mile 8 on and its the darnedest thing- I recovered really well after the race! Expect a post about different gels in the near future.

There is nothing like spending two hours alone with your thoughts. I realize now that I was pretty angry for most of the race. I was angry at myself for not preparing as much as I should have and i was angry at my health. it really sucks having metabolism issues, especially if you don’t have a thyroid. Self monitoring is stressful. Am I tired because I didn’t sleep well or is it something to do with my medication? The weight fluctuation is another thing entirely. I know I will manage it over time, I just need to make peace with my missing organ and my new blue pill every morning. It could always be worse- right?

I only ended up with 3 blisters. That’s a major step up from 10+. Walking isn’t nearly as bad as post other races. I attribute this so nylon socks! I had bought some from Lululemon and used them once or twice. I think it was because they weren’t too warm, so my feet didn’t sweat profusely initially and then clam up like the usually do. During my shift at Athleta yesterday I found out that we so sell socks like these (and I get 50% off for being an employee) as well as Smartwool running socks. My mom had heard from other runners with first hand blister experience that wool socks were the way to go. I purchased three different pairs to try out in hopes that all three will help me out in the future.

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Smart wool socks. Padded and not padded.
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Nylon compression sock- feetures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I walked on the tredmill for 25 minutes and then tried walking slowly backwards for 5 minutes. Someone at HammerFit asked me about an article they read. This reminded me of a similar article that talked about lunges and the benefits of multi directional exercises to work muscles in a different direction then they are accustomed to. I looked somewhat silly staring at the screaming yellow wall at Planet Fitness instead of the TV and the rest of the gym, but it felt good on my hamstrings. Just in case you’ve ever seen someone doe this and wonder why.

Today is a jogging mile, abs, and stretching. I’m not pushing myself yet to make sure my body recovers in the next few days from the half.