Monday, June 27, 2011

10 Reasons Not to Eat Clean or Exercise

1. You don't mind having chemicals in your body
2. It doesn't bother you to look 10 years older than you are.
3. Muffin tops might come into fashion.
4. You don't have time to go to the gym because of all the doctor appointment you have.
5. Weights are heavy . . . pills only weigh ounces and can be lifted to your mouth several times a day.
6. They make clothes with elastic waist bands for a reason.
7. Your doctor is a friend of yours and you want to keep him/her financial secure.
8. If you wanted to feel young and energetic you'd take a pill for it.
9. You prefer the puffy feeling of having too much sodium in your diet.
10. If you want your arms to look slim and tone you can always wear a black top with long sleeves.

Guess who was selected as a success story for the Eat Clean online community?!!!!

I am visiting family and friends in Virginia right now. This is my grandma with her youngest granddaughter and her oldest granddaughter (me)

Friday, June 24, 2011

It Requires Focus

I am staying with my in-laws in Virginia. They live in the town that I moved from, so I am very familiar with the area. My parents live five minutes from here, so this is a convenient place to stay. My parents have a really small house with no place for guests to stay other than the living room floor.

This mornings training schedule was a 9 mile bike ride, 2 mile run and day two of my twelve week TRX training. I am used to the little town I live in in Indiana. There is hardly any traffic and I can crank out 8 - 10 miles without worrying about seeing more than 4 - 5 cars.

This morning I really had to focus on that white line on the road. It was an extra workout trying to hold it steady and pedal for all I was worth to get the job done and get out of traffic as soon as possible. I was praying hard, not for my safety as much as for the drivers around me, that they would be alert ... not distracted or texting . . .that they would see me and be courteous and generous in giving me a margin of the road.

I needed this focus, keep it on the line girl, steady and straight . . . all you can control is you and your bike in this moment. Everything else is in Gods hands. He's got the whole world in HIS hands . . . I start singing and the tears start flowing. There we go, a little hormonal release is always a good thing.

There are a lot of things going on right now that I don't have any control over. People who I love are ill, unhealthy and struggling. It is hard to see. I weighs heavy on my heart. My mom is sicker than anyone let me know. To see my mother in pain and weak is hard. I want to scoop her up and take care of her and make her pain go away. But I cannot. I just found out about this last night when I got here and saw her. My mother in law is starting radiation and chemo on Monday as the precautionary follow up to the colostomy she had done a couple months ago for rectal cancer.

I am watching the quality of life for these two women go into sharp decline and it aches my heart. So, this morning as my thighs were aching and the bike was rocking from the passing 18 wheelers and my arms went numb from trying to keep from getting sucked into the draft of the passing trucks, I rode with an added fuel and fire in my belly. Do my health choices and exercise insure me again a fate similar to these two ladies? No. But, they do add quality to my life right now. And I will run, ride, lift, train, eat clean and lift mean . . . because I can. Right now it is a struggle for my mom to even take a flight of stairs without pain . . . she used to be my daily biking partner just seven years ago and I know her fighter spirit would LOVE to be out there biking. So who am I to fuss over aching thighs, numb arms and having to work for something I want.

All I can do is focus on what is right here, right now . . . just like that line on the road . . . God has the rest in HIS hands. I trust He will safely see me home, and care for the people I love in ways I cannot. This morning as my bike made it safely back into the subdivision, I exhaled, had a sense of relief and allowed the bike to just coast as I unlatched my helmet strap . . . thank you for safely seeing me home.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What Doesn't Kill Me . . .

Today I got asked by more than a few people what my 'secret' was to losing weight and keeping it off. There secret is there is no secret. Here is how simple and yet how complex that answer is: I changed my mind about who I am in the universe, how I interact with food and how I relate to my god. Everything else is just a matter of making choices and forming habits for me. Does that mean that everything has been easy . . . heck no, the emotion, mental, spiritual stuff is the hardest thing I have ever done, but until I did that I was merely going through motions grasping for 'the answer' to my obesity issue and my binging issue. The core reason I was doing those things was what I had to deal with first. I was losing weight, changing habits and dealing with the emotions as they came up. I didn't just sit and wait for an epiphany moment. I knew I needed to make changes and along the way I changed my mind little by little about how I wanted to interact in this world.

The 'secret' to how I stay motivated . . . I like my lifestyle. I like feeling healthy, strong and confident. I like wearing pretty clothes and not wondering whether or not a chair is sturdy enough to hold me. In order for me to continue living how I love to live, I have to invest in my self. Anything you value, you will invest time, money and effort into. Think of your children, your spouse, your house, etc.

The 'secret' to how I keep from plateauing . . . I abhor boredom. I cannot and will not exercise for exercise sake! I can't just jump on an elliptical a couple times a week and go mindless numb for 40 - 60 minutes . . . that is some kind of torture invented by a sadistic mind. I'm glad to have the option of using a piece of stationary equipment on bad weather days, but you will not see that on my 'plan'. I keep my ACTIVITY fun and changing all the time. No two weeks of exercise look exactly the same. It may say 40 minutes of cardio on my calendar and that could be dancing, riding my bike, running, push mowing my yard, or if need be, using a piece of equipment in the gym. It will say strength training upper body on another day and I will choose on that day how I am going to work those muscles. Maybe at the gym, maybe in my driveway, maybe with my TRX, resistance bands, medicine ball or maybe trimming bushes and raking! It just depends on how I am feeling, what needs to be done and what the weather allows . . . but it will happen, that is a non-negotiable with me.

Let's talk about non-negotiables. Do you ever, EVER get up and decided whether or not you are going to brush your teeth before you go to work? Or whether you should get dressed and comb your hair or not? I hope the answer is no to all the above. Those are non-negotiables, they will happen even if you don't have time for anything else before work you will get those things done. I'm not a morning exercisers (I did when I had to for marathon training), so I do not want to start something that I know for a fact will not be a sustainable habit for me. During my work week I exercise right after work because that is what works for my schedule. Sometimes that means coming home jumping on my bike and going for a ride before I make dinner. But it is a non-negotiable. It will happen.

Now to the above title. I'm in transition, yet again. This journey just keeps revealing new things for me to experience and try. As I learn more, I apply more and see how that experience works for me. Two big changes for me are my diet and my training. Usually I would not be real excited about this because I don't transition well in most other areas of my life, though now that I think about it I have gotten much better about that in the past 6 mths. or so. Food, I know that subject can be frustrating to some and that information can be conflicting making it hard to make a choice about what is right for you. Here is what I know, clean eating works for me. I feel vibrant, healthy, radiant, energetic. Another thing I know is that different foods work for different people and some combinations of food do not agree with my digestive system, it does not matter how good or how clean that food is, if it doesn't work for me, it doesn't work for me. It doesn't mean that YOU should not eat it, it just means it's not for me at this time. About a month ago my taste buds and constitution seemed to suddenly change. This was in conjunction with me starting the hot yoga classes, so I chalked it up to a temporary thing, that I was just being wise about what I put in my stomach before taking a 80 minute class in a room that was 115 degrees. Well, those food preferences have stuck. It is now a daily pattern. How long will it last? IDK. Each day while I'm prepping my meals I ask myself "will this be the day I desire something other than seafood, veggies, fruit, nuts and greek yogurt?" And each day the answer is Nope! That has been my diet for almost a month now. I do have a little coconut milk each day and some dates. The fruits and veggies change, the type of seafood changes, and the combination of how I eat them changes. But, the basic foods stay the same.

The other thing that is changing is how I workout (stay active). It is summer! I love being outside and will do as much as possible outside each day. I invested in a TRX back in March I believe. But I never really had the time to explore it and use it. Now that weather is awesome and I can be outside I connect the TRX to a tree in my front yard and am learning new ways to use it to get the workout I need. Since I workout outside I don't have access to a monitor to follow a DVD or a YouTube video on workout routines. So, I purchased a couple tools to help me! One is called a FitDeck which are exercise playing cards with the moves on the card w/pictures and description to help me out. I can 'deal' out any workout I want to do or play a wild card game of random exercises! The other thing I got is a training manual (I do well with pictures). This is a Military Fitness Guide for the TRX, it is a 12 week training program. The outside of the manual says "Make Your Body Your Machine" . . . YIKES!!! I looked at the schedule and yea, what doesn't kill me will turn me into a Navy Seal! LOL! I am excited! I will blog for the twelve weeks of training to let you know how much fun I am having!

How about you? What foods do you enjoy in the summer? How do you incorporate fun and fitness? Is it different in the summer time? What goals are you training for or events are you preparing for?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It Takes A Village

Two paths, which to follow? Hmmmm. . . . I have two topics to throw out for conversation tonight, not sure which one gets top billing tonight. Since yesterday was about all the people that have come into my life and the impact friends and family have had on me during my two year transformation, I will select to go with the topic of TEAM!

As many of you know, my husband travels for work and is only home for the weekends most weeks of the month. Our Saturday morning ritual is to go for a run together. We are training for a fall half marathon and have plenty of time to build our miles, so we are kinda in maintenance miles with a slow build schedule. If I am doing some strength work that requires some assistance, I will usually save it for when he is home. He is not fond of the gym and does not enjoy weight lifting like I do. We head to the gym before our run since the university gym closes at 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays. Two things I'm working on I need him to spot me with. One is heavy squats with the barbell (this gym does not have a Smith Machine, just a squat rack). The other is hip thrusters. With hip thrusters I have two weight benches parallel to each other about three feet apart. My shoulders are on one bench, my feet on the other. The movement is bend at the hip (dip down) and then straighten driving my hips up toward the ceiling (like a bridge up). The position makes it complicated to then add a weight bar without assistance. I get in position and ask DH to start out with the 50# bar for a warm up set. Then we move up to 70# set and last I do a 90# set. On the last couple reps of the 90# set I could feel the hip muscles fatiguing in the low range of the position. I finish the set and he says "You owe me one more." No, no I don't, that was 10. Take it. "No, you need one more" I can't. I've now been holding the bar and hovering the muscles are fatigued. "I'm not taking it until you try one more" We are both laughing at this point because I am helplessly stuck! Without his help I cannot get out of this position without getting hurt. But, my muscles are totally fatigued and I cannot push even one more time. He is not sadistic, he saw I was serious about not being able to push another rep, so he removed the bar. I thanked him for being part of my team. He joked that he would drive the short bus for me anytime.

Our conversation during my workout had been about team members and how each has a role. Some are point shooters, some are guards, some are coaches, some are the water boys and some drive the bus. Who is the most important member? Who is the least important member. If me performing well depends on him performing well is it not in my best interest that he perform well? What if my bus driver gets upset because he doesn't get the attention that my point guard does and so he doesn't show up? It doesn't matter how good my point guard is if we can't get to the arena.

In this game of life we all have the opportunity to 'go for the gold'. I grew up on that dream of going to the Olympics! I love everything about the Olympics (except the doping)! I jumped up proudly onto the hassock (vinyl footstool of the 70's) and accepted my Gold Medal for the USA as the crowd went wild!!!! Thank You! Thank You!!!! I beamed with pride *representing my country*, honoring the coaches, parents and supporting staff that were necessary to make this dream possible. In the Olympics the whole team goes, it is an honor to go. But only one will get the gold. Maybe this year you came up short of the gold, maybe you got the silver or the bronze. Or MAYBE, you just got one step closer to the podium. This may be your year to be proud that you wore the team jacket and rode on the bus. This may be the time that the teammate who got the gold needs a friend like you in a supporting role. I don't know, maybe this is your year as a spectator who emails the gold medal winner (or the one who did not place) and say "Thank you for your courage to go for the gold! Your story inspired me, touched me, moved me, etc."

This I do know. I cannot be me and do the things that I believe I am purposed to do without a large supporting cast. I need the assistance of others. I desire to share this journey with friends and family. I want the gold and will continue to train for it, but I cannot drive that bus, support that dream, and be a one woman show. It takes a village and I am blessed to have amazing people around me. Thank you for being a part of that community.

I hope I represent well those who have supported, encouraged, motivated, inspired, lead, coached and yes drove the short bus.

****My husbanded added that he is proud to be the guy who carries my cooler and gym bag! You would have to see the size of my cooler and gym bag to appreciate this statement****

Friday, June 17, 2011

Been There, Done That . . . You Can, Too!

Bleh, I hope I can get through this without so much water works today! The day started off AH-mazing yesterday!!!! I decided to start off my 2 year transformation anniversary (2YTA) with a nice 3 mile run. In all honesty, I did not really want to go run, my quads were still screaming at me about the run/bike/run training I had done the day before. Since I had a full body circuit planned with a friend for later in the day I was going to ditch the run. But, another friend was having a bleh kinda morning and didn't want to get her workout in either but challenged herself to 'Suck it Up Buttercup' and she got a great workout in! This energized me! If she can suck it up, this buttercup can too! So, out the door I went!

Later in the day a friend was talking about doing a vision board to help her stay on track. I used to do vision boards or at least put a picture on the fridge of a dress or swimsuit I wanted to look good in. I haven't felt the 'need' for one in a looooong time. I have a vision board in my head and in my mirror every morning. But then I thought I do still have goals, things that I am working on, places I want to go, things I want to learn. Maybe a vision board would help me feel more focused in those areas. So, I pulled out the pile of magazines that were designated to donate or otherwise share with others. I hate to throw away good health magazines and some I just will not get rid of, I think of them as resource materials. While I am working on this board I am feeling so focused. I find yoga poses and routines I want to do, recipes I want to try, exercises I want to incorporate into my schedule, and a couple celebrities whose character and presence are ones that I would want more of in my life (kindness, warmth, sincerity, generosity, humor). Then I think I SHOULD find a body type that I want to work to be more like . . . why? . . . because that is what I have always done in the past. I'm supposed to want arms like this person, abs like that one, legs like so and so. And I realize for the first time in my life, I have the body I want. I don't want it to be more like someone elses. It is mine, it is strong, it is healthy, it is lean(er). I have a close and loving relationship with this body, why would I want it to be something it is not?

This came as quite a shock to me that for the first time in my life, I like my body. I am not delusional, I know all it's flaws, I was there in the creation of those flaws. In the relationship with my body I have been the abuser, the one that took it for granite, underestimated it's abilities, stopped loving it, believing in it. I abandoned my body and left it to fend for itself and then blamed it for failing me and not giving me what I wanted. Why couldn't it be lean like so and so's? Why couldn't it be strong like hers? Dress up once in a while! Look pretty! Act nice! Why or why must you make me look frumpy and lazy all the time after all that I do for you?!!! Give me something and maybe I will take better care of you, if you deserve it. Such a dysfunctional and hurtful relationship I have had with my body. So to have this moment yesterday when I realized we are actually both in the same place right now, we are in sync. My body and I are in agreement that we have it pretty good and want to live life to it's fullest, happy, whole and in love with life. My cup runneth over and splashes all around in huge puddles at my feet.

In this full of life moment, I started pulling out pictures to chronicle the people that have come into my life over the past two years. Some are people who have been in my life for years, like my parents and closest friends. Others I met because of this weight loss/health journey. I will share the pics and tell you the thoughts I was thinking as I found them.

This is my family, my brother, mother and father. I love these people. They have seen me at my worst and if they were truly honest they would say they gave up on me long ago, well maybe not my brother. I believe my brother knew I was stronger than I was giving myself credit for. Once I stepped out and started he was a great source of support and encouragement. In this picture I was actually VERY happy and hopeful because I had lost 10 - 12 lbs. and felt momentum building.

Me with my BFF Kim! We have been friends since we were in the sixth grade and I can honestly say I love her more with every year that passes, even though we are miles apart for the first time (I moved to Indiana 5 years ago). Kim is the one person in my life who has never treated me any more or less important no matter what my size. She is like a sister to me. At 267# or 151#, our friendship has remained the same. The only difference is now we can borrow clothes from each other!

Another BFF, Pami! She keeps me from taking myself so seriously! She always makes me laugh and see the lighter side of life. I don't think she has a judgmental bone in her body. Just like you can never have too much cowbell, I can never have too much Pami in my life. I need more to keep me sane!

Christine and I actually went to the same high school, but just recently became friends through facebook and our mutual friendship with Pami! Christine I must say has been my number one encourager and instigator! She challenges me (dares me) to go big or go home! Funny thing is, she doesn't exercise, but always challenges me to do things like run a marathon! The big guy in the middle, Chuck, he has been this warm protective presence in my life since high school. I can always count on Chuck to be honest with me, sometimes brutally honest. He does not let me get away with destructive behaviors without calling me on them. Everyone needs a friend like him.

There was still so much going on in my head that my husband could not understand or relate to at this time. My heart was so hurt, so isolated, so afraid of being vulnerable enough to let anyone in.

My first half marathon! I met up with a couple Sparkers for dinner at iHop the night before the race!!!!! Laura and Tiffany continue to be sources of encouragement, inspiration and support! I love having an online connection with them and to have met them in person gives the relationship even more meaning.

I should have put this gal first! Carie (HOTLIKEHUBBY) was the first person to get me involved in running again. I had just started jogging a little while I was out on my walks. I had just down loaded the Coach to 5k program to start trying to run a little and she says "Hey Carolyn, you wanna train with a group of gals for a half marathon?" Yea right. Long story short (because I have told it before) she planted a seed that took root! I did train for and run that half marathon. Later that same year (2010) Carie says "Would you ever consider a full marathon?". Craziness!!! But, we did it!!! She and I crossed the line later that year and become 'marathoners'.

I have had the pleasure of working with three different student personal trainers at the university. Each was just what I needed for the level of fitness I had at that time and were uniquely gifted to help train me for the race event I was working towards. This young man, Ryan, helped me take my 'game' to the next level. A level that I didn't even know existed. He made me feel like an athlete and that if I trained well, I could do anything. I do not have enough words to speak all the kindness I feel for this young man.

This isn't the picture from the first time that I met up with Amy, this is the most recent picture from March 2011. Amy is like a little sister to me. I want nothing but the best for her and she expects nothing but my best from me. I could make a list of all the things she does for me (music, photos, reminder of calendar events, etc), but that wouldn't encompass all of her strengths or abilities. I am looking forward to meeting up with her again in the next week or two when I am in Virginia . . . look out world! Here we come again!

Angie! This girl is like a sugar plum. She will love on you and make you feel like the sun shines only for you. I cannot help but smile when I think of her. I don't think she has known a cloudy day! (actually, I know she has seen some pretty dark days, but you would never know it). Cheerleader, go getter, rah, rah, rah!!! She cheered me on, bragged about me and 'showed me off' to her friends numerous times. Then she became her own weight loss success story! I am so excited for her and she will be joining me in our first ever duathlon this fall!!!!!!!!!!!! Roommates and teammates!!!! We need matching jerseys! Pink! With skulls!

Tosca Reno, March 2011. Larger than life. What do you say to or about the woman who gave you the tools to change your life. There are no words to put here. Thank you, Tosca. You are beautiful and I love you.

My truly favorite buttercup. I met Allison at the Arnold when I met Tosca. To me, Allison is a celebrity success story in and of herself. Reading Allison's story and following her blogs on the Eat Clean Diet website, made me believe I could do it. She is beautiful inside and out and continues to be a source of information, encouragement, support, motivation and inspiration to be a better person. She walks the walk and makes me want the same for my life.

This is Carolyn, the instructor at Sumits Yoga in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She was the instructor of my first, second and third hot yoga experience. She is simply amazing. I feel in love with her on day . . . two, lol! Day one was a little rough, but I knew I would be back! We had the most amazing conversations and I loved the energy she brought to the class whether she was instructing that day or there as a student.

I was so high and euphoric feeling going through all these pictures, people, places, feelings, memories and then I opened a file of pictures labeled garden. Mostly pictures of my flower, herb and vegetable gardens and fruit trees. But in that file was this picture:

And despite the smile that is on my face in the picture. I know the pain that was in my heart. I know how isolated, depressed and hurt I felt. I know she needed a hug and to be told that everything was going to be okay. I know she needed a hand to hold and someone to believe in her . . . because she had given up and no longer had any hope. This is a dying woman, dying from the inside out, begging to be rescued, sad that no one sees, hears or seems to care. This picture and those thoughts brought me to my knees. I cried and cried and cried. And am crying now. No one should ever feel that alone or afraid.

I couldn't shake the sadness I felt. I didn't feel like binging, or quitting or curling into a ball. Just this sadness that I can't explain and maybe a little fear. Then a couple online buddies (whose pictures I don't have) reminded me that had I not been THERE, I would not be enjoying the HERE so much. And that HER story brings hope and purpose to MY journey.

The difference 6 months can make

The difference you can make in 12 months

If I can, you can. There is hope, if you only believe, step out of the shadows, you are never alone. I have been there, done that and I know you can too!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Packing and Planning

I am soooo glad that I challenged myself to pack that cooler yesterday, even though I have the summer off from work and am not traveling this week. I loaded up the cooler with all the foods, drinks, bars, and supplements I would need for a normal work day with a workout after work. So, everything except my breakfast and dinner were in the cooler. You want a peek?

Sure, everyone likes visuals!

This is my new cooler, in case you missed it in a previous blog. It is from 6Pack Fitness.

I did a mid morning workout. This is my post workout snack, 1/2 a gala apple and two hard boiled eggs.

Lunch was albacore tuna, 1/4 of an avocado, tomatoes, red onion and cilantro squirted with lime. So very delicious and just what my body needed.

This was supposed to be my afternoon snack, but I was not in the mood for this. I had cottage cheese with strawberries and almonds. I ate the broccoli and hummus with tilapia for dinner.

I am so glad I had the cooler packed and put it in my car when I headed to the gym. Because nothing went as planned! Since it was storming outside, I decided to go to gym form my duathlon training (run/ride). I have not been to the university gym in months. When weather is nice I run or ride my bike. I have been going to Anytime Fitness (25 minute drive) three times a week for weight lifting and twice a week for Zumba and Yoga.

Since this is a simple treadmill run and use of the spin bike I decided to stay local. I get to the university gym (KSAC) and it is thundering and raining hard. I grab my bags and run to the door as it starts lightening. When I swiped my card, there was no beep to let me in. I want in quickly, I do not like lightening. I swipe again, no beep. SUMMER HOURS STINK!!!! The KSAC is opened from 5:30 - 8:00 a.m., 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. and from 4:40 - 7:00 p.m. in the summer time. UGH!!!! Not my plan to have to drive somewhere just to get a run/ride training in. But weather does not permit my first choice, the second choice is closed, thank God I have a third option and a packed cooler.

Training went well. I am glad I decided to start combining the two for at least one training a week. I will still be doing one longer bike ride a week and one long run (I am also training for a half marathon for this fall). I have my cross training lined up using my TRX and some circuit style trainings. You may remember that I do a style of training called periodization. This is my more active time of year where I do more cardio, more circuits, lighter weights and lots of sunshine! In the late fall and all winter I do heavier weights and more sprint interval training on an indoor track.

My training yesterday was to run .6, ride 5 and run 1 mile. It seemed simple enough. I have ran much MUCH further than 1 mile and have rode my bike more than 20 miles. I wondered if maybe I was setting the bar too low. The .6 felt good, I didn't push the pace too hard. The 5 miles on the exercise bike was harder than riding my bike up hill. They don't have a spin bike at the gym, so it was an upright exercise bike. Used a lot of quad muscle. I wasn't sure what my resistance should be so I set it at a 9 and tried to keep a steady pace that kept my heart rate up around 150 bpm. I was sweating like crazy. Left a huge puddle around the bike! Then I jumped back onto the treadmill to run a mile at a nice steady pace. My legs felt like bricks in the first half mile. Note to self, maybe it would be beneficial to do a quick quad stretch after getting off the bike (waste moments to gain minutes). My body seemed to relax and enjoy the second half mile and I was able to pick up the pace and then accelerate again in the last .2 of the run. My time yesterday was 40:11. I will continue to build my stamina, decrease my time and then add distance each week.

After my training it was so nice to have that apple and those eggs waiting for me, along with a cool thermos of water. The cooler kept everything nice and chilled all day. even the things in the side pockets were nice and cool. In the side pockets I had two bottles of water, one protein shake and there is a pocket to put things in like protein bars, so I had a Lara Bar there as a back up snack. I always carry just a little more than I think I will need.

Oh, the planning part of this title. I am not officially registered to get my YogaFit certification on July 16th!!! This combined with my current certifications will help me get just one step closer to my RYT (registered yoga teacher) with Yoga Alliance! I am so super happy about that!!! I need to start looking for opportunities to do 8 hrs. of community service (free yoga) at somewhere like a women's shelter or a wellness center to complete the requirements for the certification. How awesome! Give and receive!

That's it, I'm packed and planned for wherever this trip leads!!!! BTW! Today is my 2 year life transformation anniversary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holla!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Going Where the Trail Leads

Wow, time seems to be speeding past me these days! I can hardly account for where they day went. I have my written plan and schedule and a lot is getting accomplished. I don't feel hurried or stressed like I did when I was trying to work full time and get everything else done. But, other than a few extra workouts and a couple clean closets, I don't feel like I'm getting any more accomplished.

I have started my training for my duathlon and am very excited about that. I have had a couple fabulous runs and terrific bike rides. Today I am scheduled to put the two together for the first time. The plan was to get up and get it done this morning. However the weather is not cooperating. It is cool, very cool, windy and raining. Fortunately, I am able to go the gym and use the treadmill and spin bike. I want to time myself and keep track of my progress. The official race distances are a .6 mile run, a 13 mile ride and a 3.1 mile run. I have rode my bike 20 miles before, so I'm not afraid of the distance. I have ran several 5k's and know what I can expect from myself in that. What I don't know is what it will feel like to run a 5k after riding vigorously for 13 miles. My training plan for today is to run .6, ride 5, and run 1 mile. I was thinking about riding my usual 8 miles of hills and then running. But, I have plenty of time to work up the miles in my run/ride combination.

Today I am disciplining myself to pack my cooler even though I am home. I am doing this for a couple reasons. First, I want to try out my new cooler! Second, I need the discipline of having a planned, prepared and ready meal to keep me on my meal schedule. I am eating very healthy foods, I just sometimes forget to plan ahead and end up grabbing a little bit of this and a little bit of that so I can eat on the run and continue what I was doing.

Another interesting thing that has happened lately is that I have totally lost my taste for meat proteins other than seafood. It is the craziest thing. Nothing feels as satisfying and delicious to me as albacore tuna, tilapia, shrimp and salmon. I thought it was just a mental thing, so yesterday I tried a little pork loin cut up into my salad . . . bleh, I picked it out and fed it to the dog. And it was yummy pork loin that I had leftover from my sons graduation. Who knows what that is all about. As always I will just listen to my body, honor what it needs at this time and continue to move towards being health, fit and strong in my body, mind and spirit.

It is time for me to pack that cooler and hit the gym!!!

Happy travels my friends!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Catch Up Review

I have so much to write about!!! I have written notes and chapters over the past week. Right now I will just share some pictures with you to make this a shorter read.

I was so impressed with hot yoga!!!! I came home with so much inspiration, motivation and clarity of direction. I am going for my next level of certification as a yoga instructor! AND I am going to contact a gal who owns a local studio for dance and movement. She had approached me a while back about teaching yoga there. At the time I was not in a position to take that offer. She asked me to keep her contact info in case my situation changed. I want to visit her studio and look at the possibility of bringing hot yoga to this area. I am not in a position to open my own studio, but would definitely be interesting in partnering with someone to create something amazing. I have tons of ideas for 'yoga' nights and events. I am also certified in children's yoga and prenatal and post natal yoga. So I'm thinking Yoga Momma night! Mommy and Me Yoga! and a couple theme nights to hit the college community around us with a Pajama Yoga night! Oh, I could get carried away here and talk about this for way too long and forget to share some amazing pictures with you.

This is my 'progress' picture after EIGHT days of hot yoga!

On the left I was feeling self conscious about these little shorts I needed to wear to withstand the 115 degree tempts in the studio. I bought these on the first night I signed up for class when I felt how hot it was in there and realized that I had not packed clothes that would work well. On the right, just 8 days later. Standing in the same position in the hotel, wearing the exact same pair of shorts. I was feeling leaner and longer through my torso and didn't have scales to weigh on or a tape measure to see, so I took the picture. When Amy did the side by side pics for me I was blown away. I thought maybe my perception of my body had changed because I had become accustomed to seeing more of it on a daily basis during yoga classes.

Oh, so many things to share. What's next. Oh, my new travel cooler arrived while I was away!!!! What a surprise. I was told that they take a long time to ship. But it was here in less than a week! Yay! This is a cooler for the serious clean eater who packs around three meals or more a day! Me! Call me a control freak. I like to think of it as planning for success daily. I am delaying here, because this is a lunch box on steroids
I love it! Pink!!!!

It has three shelves inside to hold three containers (which come with it)
For some reason I cannot load this picture right now that shows the containers

It also has a top compartment for vitamins, supplements, etc.

And two side pockets for protein shakes, water bottles, etc.

Okay, there is the picture I was trying to load earlier. They are good sized lock tight containers with pink on the lids!!!

Two ice packs come with it that slide down inside through the top down into the sides

In addition to the handle on the top, there is a nice padded shoulder strap.

You can find this product at

I also ordered another new workout outfit from Fit Activewear. I love these clothes by Zeudy Mars! She is the founder, designer and creative force behind this line. I love the fabrics, the fit, and the look of her line of clothes. They are so comfy I want to wear them everywhere.

That's all I have to share for now!!! I am getting more and more comfortable with seeing my body and embracing all of who I am and what I am created to do in this great big beautiful world. I hope your journey to wholeness is fulfilling, happy and filled with joy!

Be beautiful! Be YOU!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Am Blessed and Honored

Every morning on my way to yoga I see the same elderly woman out on her morning walk. Seeing this woman diligently getting in her morning exercise makes me more committed to my practice for a couple reasons. The woman in me wants to stand up and cheer for any and every woman who finds the strength, courage and commitment to regularly take care of herself.

Seeing this woman also reminds me why what I do on the mat is so important. So much of what I do is about spinal alignment, joint health and improved flexibility. I have lost some lower spine flexibility due to arthritis, but I am determined to maintain as much as possible and regain what I can little by little. Though I am very flexible, I have lost some flexion in my knees and hips due to osteoarthritis. It's important to me to maintain full range of motion, heath and integrity in each of these joints.

As I bend into back bend or reach through for Binding Triangle or sit down into pigeon pose, and feel a little tightness or hesitation, I think of Mrs. Morning walker, who cannot raise her eyes to see the horizon. The curvature in her upper spine prevents her from straightening her spine. She is locked in a position that has her looking at her feel with each step that she takes. Yet she takes 100's of steps each morning.

I applaud her for remaining as active and mobile as possible. At the same time, I am saddened for her and pledge to do all I can to keep my body strong, flexible, healthy and mobile. I also feel an increased conviction to my decision to pursue the next level in my yoga certification. Nothing else I do excites my passion or purpose like yoga does. I am enjoying my studies for my personal trainer certification, but I actually find it feeling less 'personal' and connected like I find in my study of yoga.

This morning at the studio several of the students and teachers were giving me hugs and telling me how much they were going to miss me. In 8 days of practice at this studio, the bond seems tight and personal. I am choke up and miss them already. I am sure I will be coming back to this yoga community to visit. They have left a mark on my heart.

When I get home I plan to put together a gift package to send to the studio to thank them for opening their 'home' to me and sharing their hearts. I am blessed and honored.

I believe my clean diet in combination with eight hot yoga sessions in eight days has done more for my physique than I had anticipated. This is bonus for me, the true gift of yoga is the things I learn about myself and about life when I quiet my mind and listen to whispers of God in my heart.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Our Body Tells The Story of Our Past!

That may not be a very positive or reassuring thing for most folks. But, think about it. We tell our stories by the marks on our bodies. This scar on my right pinky is from a skateboard accident when I was nine. This chipped tooth is from a bicycle accident when I was seven. These three scars on my knee are from two knee surgeries I had for torn cartilage. These stretch marks on the tops of my thighs and on my belly are from having gained a lot of weight in a very short period of time, some during pregnancy, some due to some binge eating behaviors I was allowing to consume my life. Our bodies tell our past.

Our minds are very active and always projecting into the future. We are thinking about ways to get things done, multi task, when I leave here I have to go there. And we worry about future things that we could not even control if they were happening right now, so why do we worry about them? I dunno.

Our breath attaches us to our present. This next breath is the only thing you have any control over. You cannot even project that what it will feel like 100 breaths from now or if you will even be here to breath in 100 breaths. So, just enjoy this one, right here, right now. Inhale slowly through your nose. Draw up the breath like you would if you were sipping through a straw. One long continuous pulling in of air that fills up your belly first, then your ribcage expands and then the breath billows up into your upper chest causing your collar bone to expand and rise. Now, with that same slow motion, exhale through your nose and reverse the process. Feel your collar bone relax down, your ribcage fold in and then your belly button fold in towards your spine. If you focus on the sensation of the breath through each stage, it is virtually impossible to think or worry about anything other than that breath. You will not be thinking about circumstances, problems, or your to-do list. All those things will still be there after you take the time to focus on just three rounds of this breath. In just three breaths you can lower your blood pressure, calm your emotional and logical mind. It really does make a difference in your brain chemistry to bring fully oxygenated blood into the brain and to rid the body of toxins through exhalation that build up when we are stressed or tense. You may not realize it, but we hold our breath, clinch our teeth, and only use the top third of our lungs when we are stressed.

The title of this blog came from my yoga instructor today in the second class I took today. She simple said "Our Bodies Tell the Story of Our Past" and at first I thought, oh brother does it ever! Then after class I was chatting with a group of gals in the shower room and one of them said "Did I hear you say you had lost over 100 lbs?" Every women in the room stopped and looked at me. "Yes, yes I did." It was very flattering to hear their positive comments about how strong and beautiful my body looked and that they never would have known. I acknowledged that I have indeed been incredibly blessed in how my body has rewarded my efforts to eat clean and get fit. And I told them that as proud as I am of my strong shoulders and any publicly visible part, that there are parts that show 'the story of past' and I have to be equally accepting of them as part of my story. So, I allowed them to see part of my body I have not publicly exposed to anyone. And you know what, I was not embarrassed at all. It was like unrolling a road map and saying "This is where I've been and here I am now."

I cannot allow the scars of where I have been tie me to negative feelings. I have traveled an amazing journey, and I could not be here without having been there. And now I will enjoy this very breath, this moment, this time . . . I am in a sweet spot right now. I will not deny that I am an amazingly blessed woman. I serve a mighty God. I know WHOSE I am. That gives me a joy and peace beyond what words can express. I don't have to know the end of this story, I already know the author of my story .

Be blessed, be beautiful, be YOU!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Restraint is an Exercise

I am on a second week of the travel along vacation with my hubby. Since this assignment is just three hours from our home, he is able to drive and hence bring me along. Since I am not working for the months of June and July I am free to travel and since the yoga pass I purchased last week was good for two weeks . . . it just seemed like a win-win situation! So, my workouts are not as balanced as I prefer them to be right now, with a daily emphasis on hot yoga, this is for a short time, a treat to be enjoyed and explored. I love the daily discovery I am having during my time on the mat and the creativity it ignites that I care off the mat and into my day.

After 90 minutes of HOT yoga (115 degrees), I am exhausted in a good way and starving!!! I am very mindful to pack some healthy snacks that I can have right after class and have foods prepared and in the fridge at the hotel (home) to have right after my shower. I have been packing some fresh strawberries, nuts and seeds for right after class. For lunch I am having a 'salad' of some sort.

Here is what I had today:

Chicken grilled with mojito lime seasoning, avocado, salsa, black beans and red onion on a bed of brocco-slaw. Yummers!!!!

Here is my yoga lesson/life lesson from the mat today:

My energy felt low when I woke up this morning. I had a hard time getting going and felt like I was dragging. I tried to make myself 'feel more energetic' think more positively and make the session what I wanted it to be. I wanted to feel strong! I wanted my energy to be high! I wanted to nail every pose. My body knows these poses. I know these flows, I can do this well. It just was not happening today. This is not what my practice was to be today. It was not there to be what I wanted it to be, it was there to be what I needed it to be.

In yoga, much as in our daily life, the harder you strive for a pose, the further you get from the intended goal. It's only when we relax into 'what is' that we can explore what might be. This was my facebook status I wrote this morning, BEFORE I went to yoga: "When you feel yourself getting fatigued from fighting against the current relax, exhale turn your face and toes toward the sun and go with the flow". So, on my mat, in that moment when I could not execute something that usually comes so easy for me, I dropped down into childs pose and relaxed my hips back towards my heels. I explored the depth of my breath and asked my body what it needed from me in this moment. It became clear that this was not a day to 'go to that next level'. This was a day to nurture, respect and honor my body.

While in this pose having a discussion with my body and doing the body scan in my mind to explore areas that might feel tight, sore or in need of attention, I see a yellow flag in the area of my urinary tract and realize that I have the beginning signs of a UTI. Hmmmmm. .. infection in the body would explain diminished energy and sensitivity to the heat. Make a note to attend to that need and respect that your body needs to go at a slower pace today.

Sometimes it takes more discipline to hold back and refrain from pushing up, pulling up, swimming up stream reaching for the 'next level'. To be still, strong and content in this moment at this time and embrace your strength and limitations with equal acceptance is a discipline. Just because I can hinge forward and pull my leg high into dancer pose, doesn't mean I need to go there today. Restraint is an exercise.

To sit on my mat, with my body and my mind and be content while others around me were flowing through a series of asanas that my body usually delights in, did not at all make me feel saddened or less than in any way. It felt good to back off and respect the needs of my body today.

I plan to return to the mat in the morning. I have no expectations of what that practice will be like. No two sessions are ever the same, just like hair, some hair days are better than others and your hair never lays exactly the same twice . . . so it is on the mat.

Be blessed, be beautiful, be YOU!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We Are A Team, My Body and Me!

I have this theory, that in order to build the body you want, you have to learn to appreciate and love the body you have. I am embracing my less than perfect physique and thankful that it is strong and healthy.

I have put this theory into practice in the past and have found that as I allow myself to expose areas of my body publicly that are less than perfect or that I have felt self conscious about, I become less self conscious. Feeling less self conscious allows me to relax and accept myself and my body for what it is and to acknowledge what I would like to improve. It is THEN that I can work with my body towards that goal.

Declaring war on my thighs will not allow my body to relax, feel at ease and safe. It is only in relaxing and accepting that I can turn off that fight or flight protective mechanism and nurture my body into complying with the release of stored fat. If we are 'at war' my cortisol levels will increase and my body says "Store up, we are heading for hard times"! If I am relaxed, confident, at peace with who I am and what I have, then my body says "I am well taken care of, nurtured and safe, it is okay to release stored fat".

So, today I love my belly that has carried three children. It is not perfect. I have a strong core and today I was able to use that strong core to pull my body up into a shoulder stand during yoga class and fold over into plow position. That strong core could then pull my legs back up toward the ceiling and with control roll down one vertebrae at a time, safely and strongly.

I'm also embracing and loving the strength of my thighs. I have purchased some skimpy yoga shorts and cami style bras just for hot yoga classes. To move through my warrior poses without adjusting the leg of the shorts to cover the tops of my thighs helps me to accept the strength, length and health of my thighs without focusing on what jiggles or has cellulite or stretch marks on them. They are good thighs. I can sink low in warrior, I can stand strong in my balance poses and I can move confidently from high to low positions without wondering if my thighs can carry me through.

We are a team, my body and me. We are working together to build the healthy, confident, strong, active lifestyle we both enjoy and appreciate. This practice, this time on the mat, puts me in contact with my heart, my purpose, and my passions. I will be back to this time and time again. There is always something to learn. Always something to explore and discover.

Until we each become what we were created to be, I will continue to pray for you and for me.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Some Like it Hot!

As I mentioned in my last blog, I am traveling with my hubby on a business trip in Michigan. Since he was here last week and knew I would be coming along this week, he spied out areas that he thought would be of interest to me. I think that was very thoughtful of him. He also made sure to get a hotel room that had a kitchen so that I could cook since he knows how important eating clean and healthy is for me.

Last night we visited the Sumits Yoga Studio so I could get a visitors pass. They were running a great introductory deal. $20 for two weeks unlimited classes!!!! Their regular rate is $16 per class for drop ins. Even though I only planned to attend two classes, the pass was a better deal. When I walked into the studio I was right away hit by a wall of heat. Yesterday was a warm day here in Michigan. Hot and sunny. But this hot was different, much different. The studio is heated for hot yoga classes. They teach different styles of yoga at different temperatures. The lowest heat a class is taught at is 99 degrees. I was wearing a pair of running shorts, flip flops, a sports bra and a tee shirt and knew I was overdressed for the heat in that room. So, the night before the class I was to attend I bought a couple things from their studio. They were skimpier than anything I ever workout in, but yoga practice is not about vanity and a heated 90 minute practice was not going to leave anyone looking like fitness model ready for a photo shoot. I was, however, looking forward to the beautiful yoga afterglow. That is a kind of beauty that no other workout can replicate.

Peak at my yoga clothes for this morning. This color does make me smile.

I made sure I drank plenty of water starting the night before the class. The morning of the class, this morning, I got up early, chopped up a gala apples, tossed in a handful of seeds and nuts, and three tablespoons of greek yogurt. I really wanted eggs this morning, but thought those might be difficult to keep down if I got nauseated by the heat.

I put on my new yoga outfit, put my hair up in a ponytail, slid on my flip flops and a sundress and headed to class early as I had agreed to do as a first timer to the class. I am glad I got there as early as I did. I was the first student there. I got to meet the instructor before anyone else got there. She set my mat up closest to the door so that I would get a burst of cooler air every now and then when the room got too hot and she would push the door open for just a minute.

As the time drew near for the class to start, the room really filled up! There had to be 20 - 25 people in the class. We each had our traditional yoga mat, with a yoga towel/mat over it to catch all the perspiration. So necessary, otherwise I would have slid right off the mat!

In yoga practice, you fix your eyes and your attention on you, your journey, your movement, your mat, your breath, your focus. This isn't a time to compare or size up or compete in any way. This is a journey of discovery, learning how your body moves and responds. Learning to celebrate your abilities and embrace your limitations. I have learned a lot in a single yoga session many times in my life.

Before class started, I noticed the other students as they came in. Some older, some younger, some taller, some shorter, some more fit, others not so much. Once class starts, all I notice is my body and how it moves. It is feeling strong, balanced, confident. It is leaner than it once was. I have more definition in my shoulders, those muscles aren't just shapely, they are strong as we lower down into chaturanga, push up into upward facing dog and press back into downward facing dog.

In the last 30 minutes of class, every inch of my body is so saturated with sweat that my arms and legs just glide into positions. For a moment the vision of a 'greased pig' crosses my mind. Not is a derogatory way. I just felt like I could slide like butter off the mat and slide into any position. The towel below me has puddles on it, it is saturated it has lost it's ability to absorb any more. We turn over onto our backs at the end of our flows and prepare for either bridge or wheel. I have not done wheel since I was in high school, before I even knew what it was called or what yoga was. I play it safe and go into bridge. Then the instructor (Carolyn) says "Explore if this might be the day to press yourself into wheel. Even if the crown of your head needs to stay in contact with your mat." Without a thought, I press my palms up by my ears and my hips up towards the ceiling. I straighten both my arms and my legs as I arch my back and walk my hands and heels in closer together. This could be a moment of tears. In my mind I hear myself say "look at YOU girl! you go! You just did something you didn't even know you could still do." This is my moment of discovery on the mat for this session. I am reminded AGAIN, to never underestimate myself.

Several times during the class, as we transitioned from a head down pose to a standing pose, I would have to take an extra pausing breath to give my blood pressure time to stabilize. Since I had such high blood pressure for such a long time, vaso restriction does not happen quickly for me. If I were to push my body to move without listening to this need for a pause, I could potentially pass out and with the room heat at 115 degrees that was a total possibility.

I love the class! I cannot wait to go back tomorrow and Friday!!!! It is kind of a good thing I don't live here, I would be yoga poor! LOL! I will be looking for similar experiences as I travel this summer and in my area. I had already made the commitment to myself that I would do yoga three times a week for the next two months. I am looking forward to exploring and learning through this time.

Sweaty Smiling Carolyns after 90 minutes of yoga bliss!!!!