Sweat

Meditation In Motion

Meditation has become a part of my daily routine. While this word may freak some people out, to me, meditation is simply taking the time to focus on my breathing and find inner peace and calm.  It allows me to create a space in which I’m able to be completely present, surrounded by gratitude, bliss and awareness.

I’ve deemed running as my “meditation in motion.”  I’m able to get lost in my own running world as I become aware of the sights and sounds around me.  It’s an absolutely beautiful experience.  However, it’s beauty is only prevalent if I’m in the right place mentally.

Since announcing my audacious goal of 13.1×10, people have shown a huge amount of support. (Which I am entirely grateful for, and my heart is so full!) A major question I find myself being asked is “Which will you actually race.”  And I respond honestly with, “I haven’t thought about it!”  I began exploring this question deeper: which ones should I run at race pace?  On yesterdays 13 mile run, I found my answer:

None of them.

As soon as I start to think about that phrase, “race pace,” I lose sight of the meditation and running just becomes a motion.  Narratives get created in my mind and I find myself surrounded with self judgement and criticism.  I recognized these thoughts surrounded me as I found myself looking down on my run yesterday.  The pavement (and therefore the run) seemed never ending.  Right away, I knew this is not how I want to feel on this run, or any other run whether it’s a mile long or 20 miles long.  So, I took a deep breath in and looked up.

 Now, rather than endless, my run seemed limitless. 

So, I let go of all those thoughts consumed with self doubt and criticism.  People say the only person you should be in competition with is yourself, but I respectfully disagree.  I don’t want to compete with myself from the past, creating these beliefs of how I should and could be running.  So,  I stopped.  No more reflecting on my run history from the past or creating narratives for the future.  It’s time to focus on the now and realize how perfect and beautiful this run, and any run, truly is.

PRs will come without a doubt.  Some races will be better than others.  I’ll be forced to face the heat, the hills, some wind and rain, too.  But, with my focus being meditation in motion, I’ll be able to love each and every moment, and the awareness it brings me.

I’ve found my soulmate pace: my pace in which I’m able to push myself but still have control and awareness of my breath and my surroundings.  For me, keeping a solid 8 minute pace allows me to stay in a meditative state.  There’s moments where I get lost in the run and naturally pick up the pace.  But, for me and for this goal, it’s not about pushing the pace.  It’s about staying in a place of gratitude, bliss and presence as my body carries me down a new path.  It’s about finding balance and persevering mentally.  It’s about showing my students that goal setting comes in different shapes and sizes, each ambition unique to the individual.  It’s about keeping my runs limitless.  It’s about meditation in motion.

Am I still nervous?  Of course.  Mindfulness is a practice.  Each course will bring it’s own set of challenges, it’s own way of trying to take me from mindful to mindless.  I’m confident, though, that with my purpose and students in my mind, I can and will persevere, enjoying each most steps I take.

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What does meditation in motion mean to you?  How do you use motion to create a space of presence and bliss?

13.1 x 10

So, I just set a goal.

A very audacious goal.

I’m running 10 half marathons during the 2015-2016 school year; one each month.

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Each one will be dedicated to a pair of my students.

My relationship with running has recently evolved.  While running used to be my escape, it is now my me time.  When I lace up and hit the trail, I’m given the opportunity to build my awareness.  I grow mindful of my breath, of my surroundings, of all that I have to be grateful for.  I’m amazed at how this relationship has changed and how movement can be so meditative.

Why 13.1? 

Goals are meant to challenge you.  For me, personally, the distance of a half marathon will allow me to both mentally and physically challenge myself.  By no means is the plan to PR each and every race.  In fact, most races will not be ran at race pace.  While I’m destined to gain at least 1 PR from this (since I’ve never ran one before…automatic PR woohoo!), my ultimate goal is to focus on my breath, soak up my surroundings and smile at the opportunity on the paved paths ahead. And, yes, I’ve heard…races are expensive. But, not with proper budgeting! Rather than placing extra money in my “spending money” category for movies, dinners and drinks, some of that cash will be dedicated to the newly installed “race” category.  While I focus on leading a life with a balanced body and mind, balanced finances are important too. It’s a win-win in my eyes when my money goes to investing in that balance.

Student Dedications

Goal setting and mindfulness is a major part of the curriculum I teach in my classroom.  I’m excited to share my journey with my students, to provide them with an example of goal setting, perseverance and healthful living.

2015 Races

Here’s a list of Halves I am committed to:

August 23: Hotlanta Half Marathon (signed up!)

September 19: Race 13.1 Raleigh Fall Half Marathon

October 17: Bull City Race Fest
November 15: Raleigh Rocks the Green Way
December 5: Winston Salem Mistletoe Haf Marathon
The plan is to keep the races local, a way to give back to the community.  The first and last half will be the only ones not ran locally…a way to celebrate the beginning and end of this journey!
Cheers to a happy, healthy body and mind!

Sweating Right: My Must Haves

I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity.  Okay, maybe I do both quality and quantity.  But, hey, how can you not justify multiple quality purchases?

Whether it’s fuel for my body or my mind, I’m going to make sure it’s a good investment.  And, that includes my sweaty gear.  When you lead an active life style, you want comfortable, functional, cute gear that’ll last through your many sweaty adventures.

Here’s a list of my “Must Haves” when it comes to sweating right: 

1: lululemon’s What the Sport Shorts

Runners…you MUST check these shorts out.  There are MULTIPLE reasons I’m in love with these shorts.

  • side pockets for my phone, keys and mini water bottle (they stay in place!)
  • they are the perfect length…not too short, not too long
  • internal drawstring incase you’re like me and your booty is a bit bigger than your waist so sizing can get complicated
  • waistband pockets for running goos, your key, chapstick etc;

I literally do ALL my long runs in these shorts.  They’re perfect for race day, too! Gone are the days of carrying your belongings in your hand…or bra.

2: A Good Pair of Shoes 

…and more than one pair.  Your feet do A LOT for you.  Treat them right.  Whether you’re a runner, weight lifter, CrossFitter…whatever…pay the money for good pairs of shoes.  Also, do your research on shoes.  And I don’t just mean read other people’s reviews.  While this is helpful, everyone’s body is different and has different needs.  Just because a shoe did/did not work for them doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.  Test the shoes out, and see how your body reacts to them.

For me, I LOVE my Brooks adrenalines.  I’ve started running longer distances on the weekends, so I needed to find a shoe that was going to support my body along the way.  I also just invested in a pair of Mizuno Wave Paradox…stay tuned for a review of those 😉

3. lululemon’s The Mat

My mat is my everything.  Split Pea has taken me adventures my runs couldn’t even dream of.  The Mat absorbs sweat and stays in place.  I can’t imagine perfecting my downward dog on any other type of mat!

My Towel Mat is also fabulous.  A holiday gift from my boo, it has been the perfect accessory for hot yoga, tanning pool side and relaxing on a sandy beach. It’s easy to wash…and it’s the perfect length!

4. Tracking

I by no means look at myself as a “serious” athlete.  Well, actually I am.  “Serious” in the sense that I’m serious about taking care of my body.   I work out to honor my body, to free my mind.  However, part of honoring my body is understanding what my body is doing.  So, I invested in a Polar watch and Heart Rate Monitor.  These two purchases have been my most expensive investments, but the most worth it.  My watch helps me monitor my milage, pace, sleep etc;  My heart rate monitor allows me to track how many calories I burn during my yoga, pilates & weight lifting sessions.  It was important for me to know this so that I could properly refuel my body before and after each workout. (See below)

5. Fuel

As I’ve added long runs back into my weekly routine, staying proper fueled is SO important.  I made sure to invest in a mini water bottle from Bull City Running Company (also where I purchased my adrenalines!) I just squeeze and the water pours perfectly into my mouth.  Plus, it fits perfectly into the pockets of my What the Sport Shorts I bragged about earlier.

I’ve also started consuming carbs while running.  My body burns through food quickly, so it’s vital I keep it energized.  I’m loving Clif Shot Bloks.  They give me the burst of energy I need as the miles add up on my runs.

Your body needs fuel all day every day…not just when you’re working out.  My nutrition is without a doubt what keeps me sweating right.  If you’re just fueling up the day before/day of…you’re doing it wrong.  How can you expect your body to do all that it does (like live…) without the proper nutrition?  Just like my gear, I invest in my food.

Sure, sweating right can get pricey.  But, when you’re treating your body to quality products…you can’t go wrong!

Here’s a picture that includes almost all of the above:

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Happy Sweating!

National Running Day 2015

GUYS. IT’S NATIONAL RUNNING DAY!

So obviously I’m going to take the time to ramble about my relationship with running.

You see, running and me, we’ve come a     L     O    N    G    (pun intended) way.

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It didn’t always use to be this way.  In fact, it used to be the exact opposite.  I used to run because I didn’t honor my body.  I ran to escape my mind.  I ran because I felt like I had to.

I had very high expectations and very low self respect.  I ran and ran and ran to prove to myself I was something.  The (not so) funny thing about that is the more I tried to prove that something to myself, the higher my expectations were.  These expectations were unrealistic, unhealthy and unattainable.

Eventually, I shifted away from running.  I took the time to heal my body and my mind.  I needed to build mental and physical strength. I knew that eventually I would return to running, and when I did, I’d run for the right reasons.

Now, my runs are my time to be mindful, to be aware, to embrace my surroundings.  It’s the time to soak up the sights, the sounds, the scents around me and simply be. It’s my time to practice presence.

My runs remind me of my past.  My body has overcome a major struggle.  I don’t look at the past with regret.  It simply is. And because it is the way it is, I am the way I am.  My body is powerful because of it. I spent ten years being being guided by negativity and stress.  I’m dedicating the next fifty+ to being surrounded by happiness, mindfulness and presence.

I run to honor my body and free my mind.  Why do you run?

Running of the Bulls 8K: Race Recap

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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of venturing through downtown Durham.  Despite the high humidity (90% to be exact…) the race was a success!

And, although, I’m very proud of my pace, and overall placement for age group and gender..I’m measuring the success of this race in a different way.

I know what pace my body is capable of. I commit to long distance runs every Saturday morning and have easily sustained an 8 minute pace for 9 miles.  I didn’t go into this race with a pace goal.  I didn’t set myself up to meet an expectation.

Instead, I made a commitment:

to smile.

to be aware.

to breathe.

I wanted to soak up my surroundings.  My focus was to be aware of the bliss and gratitude that surrounded me when I ran.  I centered on the sights, the sounds, the scents that were present; that were a part of this journey with me.

At one point in the race, I told myself to keep my head up.  And I did just that.  I looked up, peered around at the sea of people surrounding me and soaked up the empowerment that came from recognizing I was one small part of this big community.  Pretty powerful stuff.

So rather than trying to control my pace, my body, my breath…I just let it be.  I ran. I smiled.  I enjoyed my time on the road with my fellow runners.  I truly believe this is why I had a successful run.

That and my fuel.

There are many components to living a balanced life style.  Creating a balanced mindset is probably the most necessary, and difficult to achieve.  Balanced nutrition is key, especially for athletes.

Night Before the Race

I planned my meals the day before the race to allow myself to have most of my carbs at night.  Carbohydrates provide stored energy.  So, I had strawberry banana protein pancakes followed by some oatmeal for dessert. And water. LOTS of water ALL DAY LONG.

Morning of the Race

Coffee.  And more water.  Followed by Shakeology with half a serving of whey added to it.  I’m the odd one out who has to eat right before a work out.  Shakeology before my runs has proven to work for my body.  It provides me with TONS vitamins and minerals. It leaves me feeling energized and ready to go!

Post Race

2 Chia Bars (1 acai berry, 1 chocolate peanut butter), 1 banana, 1 sesame seed bagel with 2 egg whites, 1 cup of greek yogurt with a scoop of strawberry whey protein and 1 cup of protein fiber almond flax granola from Whole Foods.  I. Could. Not. Get. Full. When your body burns calories, it’s VITAL to restore those calories.  I may not have gotten full…but I also never got that post race crash…because I fueled my body properly! Restored my body with carbohydrates and rebuilt muscle with protein!

Here’s some ramblings of me talking about the race.  Other topics coming soon:

the value of quality race gear

and

why I’ve stopped blasting music during my workouts

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Cold weather makes it extra hard to get out of a cozy bed and get your sweat on.  That and puppies with fractured toes that make you feel guilty anytime you leave them home alone.

So, why leave your house when you don’t have to?  Here’s a list three types of equipment that can give you a decent workout without ever leaving your home.

1. Jump Ropes

I remember being able to jump rope like it was my job when I was young.  Which is baffling because that shit is hard.  I get more winded doing jump rope than I do from running.  Jumping rope is not only great cardio, but you’ll feel it in your arms, legs and core.  Already a master at single jumps?  Try conquering double unders.  This is where the rope goes under your feet twice while you’re in the air.  Warning: this exercise will most likely result in multiple whip marks that hurt like hell.

I got mine from here.

2. Kettle Bell

I love love love kettle bells.  They are great for adding weight to different movements.  Squatting, pressing, crunching etc; add a kettle bell!  They’re easy to grip and move. Hello sculpted muscles!

3. Yoga Mat

Split Pea is (obviously) my favorite piece of at home equipment.  Not only are mats great for yoga, but it gives you a good service to practice other movements on (sit ups, squats, push ups, handstands etc;)  They especially come in handy for core movements…you know you want to avoid rug burn on your lower back/ass.  Invest in a good yoga mat.  My favorite is The Mat from lululemon.  The material absorbs sweat and gives me a firm surface to balance on.

So there you have it…another excuse to not leave your home this winter.

 

Shvitzing At Home

In light of opening my Hanukkah present (early) this evening, I thought it was only fitting to use the word shvitzing in my post.  And for all my friends who are unfamiliar with Jewish lingo, shvitzing is sweating.

That being said, now a days I’m doing most of my shvitzing at home.  This is mostly due to an anxious puppy needing to get his sprints on *ahem, Pood* and me attempting to make adult like decisions in the finance depart.  I’m taking the advice I give to my second graders a bajillion times a day: use your resources.

Gym memberships can be rather pricey.  I’ve decided to budget money for weekly visits to Hot Asana (literally a walk away from our apartment!) whereas cardio is taken care of by daily runs with baby Pood and swole sessions are at the free gym in the apartment complex.

Wanting to get a kick ass workout or get your bend on at home?  Here’s some of my favorite online fitness gurus:

Bad Yogi

What I love about Erin Motz is she makes yoga real. Your practice is what you make it…even if it is followed by cookies and wine (guilty!)

Clasique Acupuncture & Pilates Studio

Pilates kicks my ass every time, whether its a 30 minute session or a 5 minute session.  Check it out.

CrossFit

Prior to my days in CrossFit gyms, Adam and I followed the programming from the CrossFit HQ website and squeezed our WODs in between our shifts at the YMCA.  Most movements can be completed with basic equipment.  And if anything, modifications are only a google search away.

Any other free & fabulous fitness resources I’m missing out on?  Feel free to share 😉

Happy shvitzing!

Fit Without Numbers

Yesterday, I ran.  Just ran.

No phone. No GPS.  No clue how far or for how long.  Pood and I just ran. And it was fabulous. 

I started this whole fit without numbers a few months ago.  I mostly used it in my CrossFit workouts.  I just did work.  I didn’t keep track of how many rounds or how long a WOD took me.  I wasn’t in it for the PR, or for the fastest time or to RX.  I was in it to feel good.

And I’ve learned this is what’s best, what’s healthiest for me.  Everyone’s fitness journey is different.  The path you choose and the goals you set are unique to you.  For some, it’s necessary to have numbers, to keep track of progress, to set those PRs.  That was my journey at one point.  But life changes.  And instead of fighting change, sometimes it’s best to adapt and embrace it.

In the past, my fitness was my stress reliever.   I’d let all my built up stress be released at the gym.  Now that I’m finding myself with a blissful mindset more often, I don’t see fitness in the same way.  I’m not running to release anything.  I’m not lifting to let anything go.  There’s no competition with others.  More importantly, there’s no competition with myself.  I’m just doing and enjoying the movement.

And I’m enjoying it all a lot more without numbers.  Cheers to running, bending, and lifting with presence.

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How I love CrossFit More By Loving It Less

I’ve been an athlete my whole life.  Softball, basketball, volleyball, track.  What can I say? I was born to sweat.  I’m a go-getter.   I love busting my butt and being successful.  I’ll be the first to admit I tend to get OCD about somethings, and my workouts were no exception.

CrossFit is easy to get addicted to.  I’m sure you’ve all heard the jokes…it’s a cult…don’t drink the cool-aid etc; etc;  I can’t deny this.  CrossFit is addicting.  I’m grateful for it, though.  It brought a new light to my life.  It guided me down the path of positive body image.  But, in reality, addictions (in any shape or form) are not healthy. Which is exactly why I’m happy to say I love CrossFit more by loving it less.

Since moving, I’ve had this overwhelming feeling of peace.  It comes from the whole Doing What You Love, Loving What You Do thing.  I’ve reached this point where I don’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone, in my career or my sport.  And it’s because I’m happy.  In the past, I had always felt pressured.  A stressful work environment, a stressful gym environment.  When constantly surrounded by competitive people, it’s hard to not fall to pressure.  However, finding the strength to focus on you, and I mean genuinely focus on you, is vital.

Which is exactly how I was able to love CrossFit less.  Instead of obsessing over getting to the gym after a 10 hour workday, forcing my body to push through the pain, I now go for fun.  I don’t stress over PRs, I don’t stress over finishing first.  Didn’t RX the workout?  Oh well.  I’m still  getting a kick ass workout.

 In the end, I’ve got a happy body and a happy mind.

Why I Stopped Following Instagram Fitness Models

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Social Media is fascinating.  What intrigues me the most is its ability to make you famous.

The Health and Wellness industry’s popularity has skyrocketed over the past couple of years.  I without a doubt think that social media played a major role in this.  People are taking pride in their sport.   More importantly, people are taking pride in their bodies.

While I without a doubt love this for many reasons (positive body image, healthier lifestyles, new role models), I’m finding some serious faults.

The biggest flaw? Vanity.

definition: excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.

People are literally becoming famous via social media because of the selfies they take of their flexed bodies.  And quite frankly, I’m over it.

I started following some people whose followers were increasing by the hundreds every day.  I see their (five) daily flexing posts, mostly all of their abs.

I get it. You have abs.  And while that’s great, I have one major announcement to make about it:

Abs do not define how healthy you are. I repeat: Abs do not define how healthy you are.  

Again, this is vanity.  I’ve had  six pack before.  I was also less than 100 pounds.  When you’re obsessing over your six pack, you’re not mentally  healthy.  And let’s be real: at <100 pounds, I wasn’t physically healthy, either.

So, I slowly but surely began to unfollow them all.

While I’m so happy for them to have the capability to transform their bodies, I’m not happy with their means of “inspiring” others.

What do I find inspiring?

-People’s PRs

-Yoga poses I hope to one day be flexible and strong enough for

-Motivational Quotes that remind me we all go through similar ups and downs

If you’re traveling through your fitness journey, I suggest not focusing on the vanity.  While of course a healthier physique is a goal (I mean, I do love my muscles), find inspiration in mental health, in new challenges, new friendships, in yourself. I promise you can be healthy without rocking a six pack. I’m healthier without mine.