Intention of the Evening

At the beginning of most yoga classes, the students are instructed to set an intention for their practice. My intentions typically address releasing stress, trusting my body or some variaton thereof.

Even though I had a yoga 2 class scheduled for last night, I hadn’t done a traditional cardio + weights workout in almost two weeks. I felt like my body was craving a more intense session, so I opted out of the yoga class and headed for the gym instead. Before I kicked things into gear, though, I decided to set an intention for the workout: Balls to the wall.

How utterly yogini of me 😉

I started with a simple arms and shoulders circuit: 3 sets of 10 reps each for the following:

  • Inverted Fly
  • Bicep Curl
  • Lat Pull Down (my FAVORITE!)
  • Aerobox Punches
  • French Presses

I followed the circuit with my first attempt at the Smith Machine. A staple at every gym I’ve ever been to, I’ve always been scared of this particular contraption, but I tentatively completed a few simple squats with 10 pounds weights. I would have loved to do more, but I was afraid of injuring myself from not knowing how to use it correctly!

Source

Source

Cardio was up next: I started with an easy mile at 6 mph and then ramped it up for some interval sprints! I alternated .10 miles at 8.2 mph with .05 miles at 3 mph for recovery. I had to return to my intention quite a few times during the speedwork, but I stuck it out for all seven sets I had planned! Thanks for a pumpin’ Pandora lineup, I even knocked out the last sprint at 9 mph. For me, that’s lightening! This girl is not built for speed.

A nine minute mile  on the elliptical – with resistance levels varying from 5 to 10 –  rounded out the evening. I proceeded to shower, set my alarm for an additional hour of sleep and crash!

Breakfast this morning was a simple lineup:

Yogurt, Fruit, Flax and Nuts

Plain fat free Chobani, strawberries, flax seed, organic walnuts and blackberry vanilla preserves.

Yogurt, Fruit, Flax and Nuts

I was definitely not as hungry as I had thought I would be after last night’s workout, but I rolled with it! Now I’d better roll my behind in to the office…lots of writing to get done today! I’ll catch ya tonight with a great high-protein vegan recipe you’ll defeinitely want to whip up sometime this weekend!

Do you ever set intentions for yoga practices, runs or other workouts?


Pretty Please with some Cream Cheese on Top

Please, PRETTY PLEASE for the love of all things good in this world, tell me that at some point in your life, you’ve enjoyed a bagel with cream cheese and jelly.

Now, please, PRETTY PLEASE for the love of all things better, tell me that you have cream cheese, jelly and steel cut oats within arm’s reach.

I guarantee, this will rock your world the way it rocked mine.

Cream Cheese and Jelly Oatmeal

I may not mind running out of peanut butter if it means stumbling across other equally delicious oatmeal add-ins. Walnuts, flax and IKEA lingonberry jam just added to the incredible factor.

Oats with Cream Cheese and Jelly

Speaking of oatmeal, check out the Healthiest Fast Food Oatmeals! Even though I consider buying breakfast a special necessity after a looong night, their comparison was interesting!

The cream cheese lovin’ seemed to originate in yesterday’s lunch:

bagel with cream cheese and veggies

Plain bagel + cream cheese + tomato + sprouts, with sides of carrots and a plum for good measure.

bagel and fruit

Before I dip for work to go tackle some may-jah projects, I want to simply remind you:

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard, impossible is not a word – it’s just a reason for somebody not to try” – Kutless – What Faith Can Do”

Pretty Please tell me: What is your favorite way to eat a bagel?


Nobody Expects Perfection

Yoginis are no stranger to openers of all sorts: hip openers, heart openers, chest openers; I can bust out a series of these in a heartbeat. Eye openers, on the other hand, have the ability to remove me further from my comfort zone than an hour in utkatasana could.

When my ability to accept constructive criticism was questioned yesterday, I realized that somewhere along the line, I’d turned off the part of my brain that told me to learn from those who’d been where I’ve been. I’ve always prided myself on being strong-willed, yet sometimes, no amount of fierce independence can substitute for humility.

I’m human. I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to mess up… but that doesn’t mean I’m a failure. I’ve said it before, yet somehow I stopped living by it: you can’t be afraid to fall.

As much as we believe otherwise, others don’t expect complete perfection from us. I’ve come to stop expecting perfection from myself, yet somehow, I’ve remained terrified of letting others think I’m not perfect. I may have let go of trying to be a size zero, yet I still have been trying to force myself into other labels: the perfect friend; the perfect daughter; the perfect employee; the perfect runner; the perfect fashion plate; the perfect blogger. As much as I’d like to think I’m able to be these things…I’m not. And that’s okay with me. I’m pretty positive that’s okay with the rest of the world as well.

Mistakes are guaranteed to occur. We can take them with a grain of salt and open ourselves up to the guidance of those who want to see us succeed, or we can internalize the perceived “failure” and close ourselves off to improvements that could result from the learning process.The latter option not only deprives us of our chances to grow, but also frustrates those who have been where we have been and can help us become better. Essentially, we can be the petulant adolescent who plugs her ears and runs away screaming and slamming doors, or we can swallow our pride, cut the excuses and listen.

Life has a lot to teach once we open our hearts and minds and become receptive to the little lessons along the way!

What is one thing – big or small – that you’ve learned recently?


How to Bounce Back From a Bad Workout

In the wise, wise words of my yoga instructor Erin, “Some days you feel like a rock star, other days you just feel like a rock.”

Source

Last night was one of those “rock” days. Mentally, I just wasn’t focused. Physically, I was shaky and unbalanced. Goddess pose killed my quads, pigeon pose downright hurt, and holding airplane pose beyond a single breath? Forget about it.

I hesitate to call any workout “bad”. Rock star or just plain rock, you’re up, you’re active, and you’re putting effort into taking care of your body. Regardless, when your efforts just don’t line up, it’s hard to move beyond that “bad workout” feeling of letting yourself down.

It’s far too easy to wallow in the aftermath of a sub-par workout. Driving home from the hot studio, I wouldn’t have believed Kathryn Budig herself if she’d told me my self-worth wasn’t measured by the depth of my downward dog.

A workout, however, is just that. It’s not a life-or-death matter (unless a gunman is dictating your shoulder stands, in which case I suggest you find a new studio in a better part of town). It’s not a competition or a means to invoke jealousy. It’s you, working on your endurance, your strength, and your dedication. It’s a practice.

You’re not going to kill it at the gym every night. Heck, even Peyton Manning has off days. And look at it this way: your off days don’t end your season 😉 Just remember:

Don’t blame yourself… It’s natural to accuse yourself of poor effort, crappy balance, lack of skill, lack of speed, lack of coordination…you get the drift. None of that is true, and if it were, you wouldn’t be able to work out in the first place. An “off” night is no reflection of your overall competence, fitness, or ability as an athlete, whatever your chosen sport may be.

…But don’t make excuses. Sure, crappy playlists, unenthusiastic instructors, stressful days at work, inadequate hydration/nutrition, and lack of sleep can all throw off your workout…but blaming them for the workout doesn’t do you any good either!

Leave it in the past. It’s done. It’s over. Leave the stress on the mat/treadmill/elliptical/court. Tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to bust it out!

Remind yourself of previous successes. When you’re feeling bummed and incapable, draw back on a time when you set a PR, nailed negative splits or completed your first headstand. Reliving the endorphin rush that accompanied your accomplishment can set you back on the right track to replicate the feeling in your next workout!

Do something to put the fun back into working out. Fitness fiascos can put a huge damper on my enthusiasm to get moving. One 37 minute 5k training run resulted in a two week hiatus from running simply because I dreaded getting back into the swing of it. A few zumba classes later, I had gotten back my enthusiasm for a good heart-pounding workout and was ready to take it back to the pavement! Whether it’s setting a new goal for the same sport or looking into a unique new workout like rock-climbing or pole dancing, shaking up your routine can put some excitement back into getting moving!

Plan to BEAST your next gym sesh. Positive thinking, Little Miss (or Mister) athlete! Need I really say more?

What do you do to recover from a less-than-stellar workout?


Looks Like I Made It

I made it through a wardrobe crisis that nearly made me late for work:

blog 2116

Juicy Couture top; Anthropologie skirt; Payless shoes. It’s all about the high-low mix, yo.

I made it from my desk to Annie’s, a Greek restaurant a few blocks from my office, then back to my desk in half an hour flat.

blog 2119

I made it two point five seconds between parking myself at my desk and inhaling lunch from said restaurant.

Seven dollars scored me the vegetarian platter, which came with a hummus mountain, tabbouleh salad, grape leaves, and handmade pita.

blog 2121

Even though everyone at the office raves about Annies, I was underwhelmed. The hummus was rich and creamy but it was topped with a valley of olive oil; the tabbouleh was equally oil-laden. The dolmades were on the skinny side – YES, size matters! – and the pita had a great chewy factor but were disappointingly flat.

Somehow I made it through the meal, however 😉

After making it through another workday, I had an hour to blow before a yoga class, so I hit up Austin’s Coffee & Film in Winter Park.

blog 2126

I don’t know which I loved more: the Degas-inspired table or the toffee nut coffee with soy milk! They also offered organic wine, vegan baked goods (hellllo chocolate chip cookies!) and vegetarian sandwiches, but I was en route to a major sweat sesh and didn’t want an overly full stomach.

I then proceeded to make it through seventy five minutes of excruciating hot yoga. Just when I started to think I wasn’t going to make it through one more series or hold crow for one more second…I pulled through. Major props to this body of mine for hanging in there.

Life throws us a ton of crazy curve balls. We have to let go of things we don’t want to let go of, take steps that we’d rather not take, all while finding that inner reserve of gumption to pull us through it.

Lying in savasana tonight, I almost started crying and laughing at the same time. Out of nowhere, the realization hit me: challenges don’t ever go away; life isn’t perfectly smooth sailing, easy decisions, and perfect endings. It’s bumpy, it’s rocky, and sometimes it hurts. Regardless of how crazy things seem at the moment and how much you wish you had an easier option than pushing through, there’s so much strength – physical, mental, or emotional – to be found at the other end of whatever you’re dealing with.

Life goes on.

We move forward.

Breathe.

We’re gonna make it.


The Scariest Decision of My Life

On the Wednesday before Christmas, I discovered something sweeter than cake; I discovered just how sweet following your heart and speaking your mind could be.

On December 22, I quit my job as a preschool teacher.

It was absolutely the scariest decision I’ve had to make thus far, but when the words came out of my mouth, the feeling of sheer relief was indescribable.

Let’s backtrack to August.

The job I’d held since 2009 cut my hours in half. Although I loved my coworkers, my students, and my job, there was no way I could make ends meet on a part-time teaching salary and I was forced to look for a full-time position. Since I was still in the process of completing my last class for my Bachelor’s degree, I considered myself lucky to find a spot as a lead two year old teacher. My bills would be paid and I’d be able to avoid moving back home with my mother after graduation – it seemed like a brilliant opportunity, right?

Wrong.

After only a few weeks,  I knew that I didn’t belong working at the preschool. I was cooped up in a small, windowless room for eight hours a day, changing diapers and wiping snotty noses.

For the next several months, I did everything I could think of to push through. I told myself I needed to adjust to the younger kids. I told myself I needed to get more involved with lesson plans. I told myself I was doing what I needed to do to maintain my independence. Basically, I told myself whatever I had to in order to get through the day.

Who did I think I was fooling?

You can fake a smile, you can fool others, but it’s impossible to lie to yourself.

Despite my best attempts to stay positive, I couldn’t help but ask myself: you worked your ass off through school for this?

I didn’t have any motivation to get out of bed on Monday morning, and when I did, I didn’t recognize the listless, unhappy woman I had turned into. I felt like I’d done a complete 180 from the ambitious, energetic, and inspired individual I had been only months ago. I’d finally broken free from the vicious cycle of self-loathing, and just as I was coming into my own and emerging as a bright, happy young woman, I was forcefully shoved backwards into confusion, listlessness, and constant doubt about my worth and my future.

What nobody tells you about working in a preschool is that you’re surrounded by the screams and cries of inconsolably fussy children for the whole day. When all you’re exposed to is non-stop tears and tattling, it becomes harder and harder to keep a genuine smile on your face.

One night a few months ago, The Coach mentioned that he’d been picking up a fake-perky vibe from me and asked if I was acting excessively bubbly because I was happy or if I was simply overcompensating for feeling exactly the opposite. Although I told him that I was just under a lot of stress and was just a naturally perky person, I realized that I really had been doing everything in my power to make up for the fact that deep down, I knew  that something was not right.

Every evening, I’d peeled out of the preschool parking lot as though it were a Nascar speedway – I couldn’t leave fast enough. On several occasions, I drove home with tears streaming down my face.  One night I sat in my empty car, screaming at the top of my lungs because I had no other way to process the frustration that I was feeling. I felt indescribably trapped. Worse yet, I knew that I had too much potential and too much life ahead of me to feel that I was never going to be good for anything more than dispensing tissues and wet wipes.

One day in the week leading up to my decision to quit, I melted down in my classroom. I began shaking and crying, physically unable to say anything other than “I can’t do this anymore” for twenty straight minutes.

Finally, enough was enough.

I knew that I had to take charge and reclaim my life.

After seven hours of sending out resumes, I was extended three promising interviews at various editing and marketing firms. The first went well, yet I could immediately tell that the position wasn’t going to be the right fit for me. The second, however, couldn’t have been more perfectly tailored to me had I created it myself.

Arriving at the preliminary interview nearly a half hour before the appointment, (what can I say, I’m a chronically early person!) I texted The Coach to tell him that I had this absolute sense of belonging as I sat in the lobby, waiting to meet with the director. That sense quadrupled as I spent three full hours in the smoothest interview of my life.

As I walked out of the building, I knew I was needed to work there.

blog 2091

I then found myself facing with the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make: Quit my steady yet emotionally and mentally taxing teaching job in order to take the only time slot available for a secondary interview at a job that may or may not materialize, or stick with the steady paycheck and pass up what could be my best shot at launching a career that pursues my passions and utilizes my talents.

In some matters, no amount of practicality can override your gut instinct, and by no means should it ever replace following your heart.

With shaky knees and a million-word-per-minute voice, I informed my boss that I would not be returning to the preschool after our Christmas vacation.

Immediately after the words left my mouth, I felt a huge sense of relief. I had expected to be scared witless about the uncertainty the next few days was going to bring as I waited for word from the company, yet I was met with the peace that only comes from following your gut.

On December 28th, I was extended an official offer to be the new assistant writer/editor for an Orlando firm; I start three days after the new year rolls in.

After a ridiculous amount of giddy phone calls, Facebook posts, and a celebratory evening with friends, it’s finally sinking in. This is really going to be my life. This is my shot at the future I’ve been envisioning. I’m an editor. Assistant editor…but who’s really keeping track? 😉

Thank you all for sticking with me through these rough several months. I know that I haven’t been offering all I had to offer, in life and in the blog. Thankfully, I’m now feeling more hopeful and optimistic than ever, and I’m incredibly excited to get to share that excitement with with you all. I finally feel like myself again, and I’m looking forward to this amazing chapter!


All I Want

‘Tis the season for wish lists and gifting…

blog 2037

But in the last several days, I’ve learned that the thing I want the most isn’t something that can be gift wrapped.

I want to write; I want to edit; I want to create, and I want to do it for the rest of my life.

blog 2035

I’ve previously explained that I feel as though I’m languishing in a job that I don’t have a passion for.

I’ve had enough.

I’ve decided that this is going to change.

I wasn’t lucky enough to discover my dream in college where resume-boosting clubs and internships were abundant. I was, however, lucky enough to choose a major that ended up being far more suited to my life and personality than I ever could have imagined.

Words have the power to teach, to explain, to transform pain into a catalyst for growth, and to exude joy. Words can be used to hurt or to praise. Words allow us to assign meaning to memories and attach emotions to experiences; they are an individual’s means of sharing your thoughts and your heart with those around you. Through words, we become more aware of what we feel.

William Wordsworth defined poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquility”. Writing allows us to go back and process once we’re able to look back with a clear head; here lessons are learned and lives are shaped.

This dawned on me last night at the gym while zoning out on lyrics.

Playing my songs is the way I cope with life” (A Day to Remember) I live, eat, breathe, and sleep music, and the reason suddenly dawned on me: lyrics are raw and relatable, and more often than not, they are a chance for the artist to say the things that should have been said in a given moment. Getting lost in music – in words – allows me to work through what I’m feeling until I’m able to act on it.

Music is like magic/there’s a certain feeling you get when you’re real.” (Eminem) With words – be it in the form of lyrics, a poem, a blog post, or a conversation, there’s always a point you’re trying to convey. With hundreds of thousands of words to be chosen from and even more ways to arrange them, the feat of getting them just right to express just what you need to say is a considerable one; when you’re able to make your point and share your heart, the feeling is inequitable.

You’ve lost your way with words/and to me/what could be worse?”  (The Starting Line) My biggest fear in life is getting to the end and regretting missed opportunities. Yes, I feel that way about experiences, but also about times when I’ve had something crucial to say but lacked the guts or the eloquence to express it. Forgetting my voice and losing my chances to say what I need to say is equally terrifying to me, and I refuse to allow that to happen.

I am focused on what I am after/the key to the next open chapter”. (Shinedown). Writing is my passion. Between writing for my classes and my blog, that has become abundantly clear to me recently. I want to be a writer or an editor, and I want it more than anything. For the first time in my life, I can say that I have a strong sense of direction and I’m bubbling over with excitement to pursue it. Despite lacking technical experience, I have all the heart and the passion in the world, and I’m going to break into a career that lets me take joy and satisfaction from my creativity; that’s a promise.

I know to keep my hopes up high and my head down low.

I know what I’m meant to do, and I know I’m going to make it happen. I’m not asking for much; in fact, it’s all I want.