Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'

To those of you who write blogs and hold jobs and have kids.....have you ever just needed a break from life to enjoy life?

I've decided to take that break for a little bit. It all started Mother's Day weekend when a Disney princess ruined my plans and interfered with my training. Yes, I'm talking about you Tropical Storm Ana! Since that weekend things have been off with me and my training. My travel plans have been so rigorous and tiring that I have just barely squeezed in the required every 3rd day.....as long as it wasn't pouring down rain or I wasn't attempting to catch up on sleep.

Sometimes when I fall so far behind on a project I feel the need to just flat out quit it. I'm trying really hard right now not to. We all go through phases like this in our life where something we once loved and dove head first into just starts to wane in emotion. Maybe it's a job, a relationship, a fad of some sort. But for me fitness is none of the three. It's both a career and my lifestyle.

However, for this month, I'm giving myself a pass. A pass to not meet all of my fitness goals this month. I tried and with 5 days left, I will come up short. I'm okay with that. In my lifestyle is also my practice of yoga. And yoga is a practice of acceptance. I accept the following:
  • My life is only so much in my own hands to control
  • Not everything in life should be controlled
  • Perfectionism is not the same thing as happiness
  • It's okay to fail
  • Being a fitness professional does not mean that I'm not human and don't face the same challenges that all of my clients do and will
So, because I have loved writing this blog, I still love my workouts, and I'm just in a temporary overload due to everything coming up in my life this week, I will take a little longer on this break and be back soon.

In the mean time.....I need your help in deciding where to send my hair.
Right after a run and right before I chopped it.

While I was in Iowa I chopped it off.....13 inches! I decided it was time for two reasons. Number one: my hair is very thick and with the length of my hair it was starting to become difficult to teach and run and with summer approaching it just made the most sense. 

Number two: because I like to do things for charitable causes and I'm not in the financial position to be giving a lot right now. I'd love to weed out my wardrobe and hand some things down to those who are less fortunate than myself, but I'm not in a position to be buying new clothes at this time. All I really have to give is my time my energy... and my hair. 

So today I'm going to post a reader poll. I know most of you click over here from Amanda and Running With Spoons and you're probably not regular readers of my blog or maybe you are but haven't yet subscribed, but either way, today I'd like your input. I tend to go back and forth between donating my hair, I've done this twice before, once to Locks of Love and once to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Both take hair that is in great condition hasn't been colored too much and doesn't have too much gray. They take the hair and turn it into wigs for those who need them. Hair is something for me that is not a big priority to have. I don't use my hair to make a fashion statement etcetera, so I don't mind chopping it all off and donating it to someone else you could use it. It's the least I could do and it makes me feel more yogi. I gave my last batch of hair to a friend's sister who was going through a tough medical time.
The after...had to do the side shot to show it.

I write this blog to provide you all with lots of fitness information, but I also want to spread the word about yoga in the many benefits that it has in your life. One of the things that I've learned from practicing yoga over the last 11 years, is it it's all about that connectedness to those around you. This is one tiny way that I can feel closer to others, share my humanity, and just make myself an all around better person.

So, in the comments below I asked you to vote Locks of Love, Wigs for Kids, Children with Hair Loss, or Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Namaste and I'll be back!

Monday, May 11, 2015

My 11 Mothers

Who are the Mothers in your life? Here's a short tribute to mine on this totally made up holiday......
Those who are now gone
I had two Great Grandmothers who lived for a good chunk of my life. My first Great Grandmother (my mom's dad's mom) passed away right before I turned 18. She taught me to speak up for what I wanted in life. She never let us eat in her living room, though she ate most of her meals there. She always had cookies in tupperware on the table or counter when we came in. She was kind and had the softest skin I can remember. Education was very important to her and she paid for me to go to summer camp one year where I would have the opportunity to visit a college campus for a week. I didn't learn, until after she had passed, that she was a school teacher.

My other Great Grandmother (my mom's mom's mom) passed right after I turned 24 and graduated college. She taught me to be loving. She used to make us lemonade by squeezing lemons on a small juicer....by hand! She would give us HUGE bear hugs that made you feel as though this 5' nothing woman was going to snap your spine. She was strong and opinionated, but always had the most cheerful smile. She forced my cousin and I to write letters to each other as we were growing up and we are still friends today. She had the most beautiful penmanship of any person I've ever met in my life.

Those I'm cherishing before they go
I am very lucky to still have both of my Grandmothers still alive. They both still live in Iowa, so it stinks that I don't get to see them as often as I'd like and my boys only see them once or twice a year. I grew up with two Great Grandmothers that I saw on the regular and wished the same for them.

My dad's mom is the one I vacationed with in summers growing up. She baked cakes and huge boxes of cookies at Christmas time. She made lots of interesting foods including pickle rolls and Russian meat pies, and cooked Greek food for my Grandfather even though she wasn't Greek. She wore rings on every finger and some of her toes and always had short hair. She made a lot of her own clothes and my aunt's wedding dress, plus the bridesmaids' dresses, my flower girl dress, and her own mother of the bride dress. She is a female jack of all trades and her voice reminds me of Piglet.

My mom's mom still lives on the farm that my family spends and has spent most of its holidays. She is a member of the red hot society and worked for as long as I can remember for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. She served tea to every president from JFK to Clinton before she retired. She has a stern look to her when she wants to and loves to play cards. She's always been very involved in her church and is a hard worker.

Those of my mom's generation
My parents each have a sister and my mom has a sister in law. My three aunts are very different and have all been there for me in differing ways. My dad's sister is not my biological aunt as he is adopted. However, I always thought that we looked alike when I was growing up and I idolized her sense of fashion. She is also my Godmother and the aunt who recently had a stroke. She is young (still at the start of her 50's) and was my first influence in the world of fitness. I have an entire post that I am currently searching or photos to complete to honor her place in my life.

My mom's sister is a quieter and more book worm version of my mom. She's political and well read and so independent. She lives in a house that she bought herself and for some reason that seems like one of the most amazing accomplishments to me. Maybe it makes me proud as a feminist to know a woman who just did her own thing with her life. She is consumed by her job and often works so much that she forgets to cash her checks or pay her phone bill. She has helped me in so many different ways to achieve my educational goals in life and I truly cherish the times when we take vacations with her, my mom, and my sister.

My mom's sister in law was at first my secret nemesis. She didn't seem to fit as she came into our lives kind of quickly and I was young enough to feel jaded by change. However, as the years went on, my aunt turned into "the cool aunt". She has a tattoo on her back....a large one. She does her own thing and kept her youngest daughter at home instead of sending her to preschool. She taught her to read and write and a whole lot more. She set the standard for many of the ways I look at parenting myself. She and I have never been close in the way my other two aunts and I are, but I miss her just the same when I don't see her for long stretches.

The one who left the door open....in case I need it
There are some mom's in your life who aren't even a part of your "family". When I was in high school and my parents were splitting during my senior year, I found my other mom. She was my high school swim coach. She gave me a job babysitting her son when I needed to quit my other job and still have a way to make money. She told me that her door was always open in case I needed a place to get away.....literally, the back door was never locked and I was welcome to go there any time. When I was dating my high school boyfriend she told me not to fall too deep in love with someone unless I knew I could really trust that person. For me she knew that that meant really open myself up and let someone else do for me things that I normally would only do myself. When I got married the first time and I was sure I could depend on someone that much, she told me to make sure I truly knew the person so that I didn't wake up one day and roll over to look eye to eye with a stranger. That's a bit of advice I still wish I'd taken more seriously. Coach (as she's called in my family) will always be my second mom and not just mine, but all three of my siblings. She's been there for so many of our major life events and is full of life and curse words that I could never bring myself to say. It's hard to describe a love like that.

The feminist past
I seriously thought about cutting this portion of my post for today, but I think it's an important part. Like I said, I've been married before. I don't want to get into the this and that of why I am no longer married to that person, but his mom was my first mother in law. We butted heads a lot in the 8 years she was in my life. Mostly because my ex-husband was an only child of a very strong willed, opinionated, educated, and feminist woman. He then married someone just like his mom and I proceeded to take her place in his life......and that took some adjusting on both our parts. However, this woman pushed me to be more than I was when I first met her. She did her entire undergrad in 3 years and graduated at the top of her class. That way she and her husband graduated at the same time and could move forward with their lives as planned. She got a masters and then a PhD while raising my ex. She worked and worked and worked to get tenured at her job and ran almost every day. She set a high standard for me to meet and one of the greatest regrets of my divorce is that I lost that role model in my life.

The southern belle
My mother in law now is a polar opposite to the first. Both hailed from the south, but are very different in their upbringing. My mother in law now is very affectionate and hugs and kisses us every time we see her. She tells me she loves me every time I talk to her. She wears matching everything and is never seen in public without her hair done and make up on. She goes to have her nails done on the regular and watches TLC. She has 3 true loves in her life: my niece and two sons. I couldn't imagine a woman who is not me or my mom to love my children more. They are the light of her life and that makes me happy to share them with her. She is sensitive and caring and hates to have her picture taken. She loves chocolate and if you watch the Goldbergs....she's the original yenta. I look forward to many more years of watching her with my children and seeing them snuggle up to her with the same love that she exudes back at them. I know she'll always be there for me if I need her.

The one and only
So, then there's my mom. The one and only who gets that title forever. There are not enough words to express the love I have for this woman. She has been my supporter, my enemy, my friend, my shoulder, my defender, my jailer, my guiding light. My mom and I have had an up and down relationship over the years. I think I was a little more than she expected. But, throughout it all she's always been proud of me and behind me. I could go on and on about all of her many wonderful qualities (she's hardworking, loving, sweet, funny, smart, inventive....) but the pages would be endless. So, I'll just say this:
God could not be everywhere; so he created Mothers.
That sentiment hangs on a sign in my mother's kitchen and it doesn't belong anywhere more perfect than there.

Happy Mother's Day to all the beautiful women out there!
L-R: Mom, me, Mom's Mom, Mom's Mom's Mom c.1980

Thursday, May 7, 2015

TOLT: Let Down by the Ice Cream Truck

My oldest son has been working on a reading program that I mentioned here and has been doing really well. We (read my husband) promised him that he could get an ice cream from the ice cream truck when he'd finished 10 lessons, which was a totally unnecessary reward for two reasons. First, there are 100 lessons, so 10 is nothing in the long scheme of things. Second, he loves the reading program, so I feel like that should have been reward enough. Then again, I'm totally intrinsically motivated and love that happy feeling of accomplishment and want my children and everyone else to feel that too.

Either way, the 10th lesson was completed yesterday and what do you think happened? The ice cream truck didn't show! So, instead of having a very cute little photo op of my son's first encounter with the ice cream truck for you today, I decided to dump some random photos I've been meaning to write about. Enjoy! And Thank You to Amanda for hosting another edition of

Is anyone else psyched that Jellies are back?! Found these babies at Rack Room Shoes in Myrtle Beach.


A beautiful trail hike followed by a beautiful moment with my hubby. Our trip to Lake Norman State Park just outside of Statesville.

Also on that trip I found the most beautiful set of what I use as kitchen cloths at TJ Maxx. Perfect for looking wonderful while cleaning off your children's sticky fingers after a meal. They're also the colors that I hope to put into the title back splash when we get around to redoing the kitchen.


A bowl full of brown rice Krispies and flax seeds...topped off with Almond Breeze. Yum! Thanks Sarrah for the amazing amount of flax you have provided me for the next two years. Hopefully I will eat it all!

And Hardee's....I do not frequent your establishments, but could you please teach your employees to spell? El Diabld is not a type of Thickburger that anyone wants to eat.

Have you been let down by the Ice Cream Man before?
What random photos do you have lurking on your cell phone?
Would you please fund my kitchen renovation?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fitness Challenge #5 - Do More by Doing Less

If you don't know the true history behind this holiday, note that it's not all about the cervezas and tortilla chips. Please click here to learn more. Either way, we're here on the first Tuesday of the month to review last month's fitness goals, set new ones, and set for the fifth fitness challenge for the year. If you don't know what I'm talking about you can click here or scroll to the bottom of the page to find the other four fitness challenges thus far.

April Review
Last month I aimed to do some HIIT training and you can read about my experiences with it here, here, and here if you'd like. The final outcome was that I plan to use some Metabolic Strength Training through HIIT while I travel. This month I don't know if I will be traveling for any workshops, but I do have one scheduled for the first full weekend in June and I can't wait to deploy that workout again!

I also completed my mileage goal with the help of some biking, which I plan to do much more of in the month to come. I suffered some set backs with my other training due to the overload of teaching last month and also that dreaded overuse injury that I still deal with from time to time thanks to my shoes which desperately need to be replaced.....that's coming in May as well.

New For May
I plan to keep things about the same this month. Here is a recap of the program I'm using with some updates:
  • 20 modified push-ups
  • Pilates ring exercises for biceps and lats 3 sets of 20 each exercise and each side rotating
  • 20 physio ball hamstrings curls
  • 20 bird dogs each side with opposite arm and leg
  • 20 Pilates scissors
  • Three Mondays in May walk the 4.13 mile loop at Greenfield Lake with Brittany and run one of the 4 miles (first two Mondays will be miles 2-3, last Monday will be mile 1-2). (yesterday=check)
  • Log a total of 80 miles or more (that's 20 miles more than last month's goal, but the addition of biking will help with that, plus it's slightly more than May 2014:79.5miles)
  • 50 forward lunges with rotation while holding the Pilates ring (25 each side)
  • 5-10 each side balancing single leg wood choppers with the Pilates ring
  • 20 repetitions of supine hip add/abduction
I also plan to ride the bike for at least 10 miles each week. That's not a lot, but my good route is about 14 miles and my short split route is about 6 miles total.

Cautions for May
Things I need to be concerned about this month include watching my overuse injury of my hip to make sure it doesn't flare up again; keep my teaching and exercising within reason; get new shoes; and keep things up while I travel. I'm going to my mom's house for several days and driving there and back in the middle of the month. She will also be here for a week at the end of the month and I have the little guy's birthday which always seems to throw a wrench in things.

Resistance Training Days this month: 5/3, 5/6, 5/9, (skip 5/12 for teaching), 5/15, 5/18, 5/21, 5/24, 5/27, and 5/30.

Fitness Challenge #5
From the title of this post, you may think that this is about HIIT training again, but it's not. Have you seen the annual 30x30 challenge going around again? They ask you to get outside and into nature for 30 minutes a day for 30 days of May....which is funny because May has 31 days. Our challenge this month involves this 30x30 challenge, even though we're already 5 days into the month. Your job this month is to look at your original goal and see how getting outside can make that goal happen. Then, dedicate 30 minutes each day to getting outside and getting it done! Remember that you must post about your plan and/or experience with the challenge in the comments to qualify for the end of the year giveaway and it's not too late to start. Just click the links below.

For me, I want to be stronger. This means a lot to me as far as getting outdoors and into nature. I am trying to keep all of my runs, walks, and rides outside and in parks or other non urban areas. Sunday I did my resistance training workout in my backyard. Monday I was at Greenfield Lake for the walk/run with Brittany. Today I plan to take my evening yoga class outdoors. Also, I am working on my gardens (wait to see photos of that later this week). The fresh herbs and vegetables and fruits we are planting in our yards are helping us to get stronger as a family and me to get healthier and stronger in my food choices. Weeding also takes some serious fortitude of the body to stay in squatting positions. So each day I am not exercising in a green space, I will be weeding in a green space. And if I have neither to do each day I will get back to my meditations in an outdoor location. That way I can commune with nature a little more.

I will put down all of my other duties for that 30 minutes each day to do more for myself by doing less of tv, computer, etc.

How can getting outdoors benefit your 2015 goal?

Fitness Challenge #1
Fitness Challenge #2
Fitness Challenge #3
Fitness Challenge #4

Monday, May 4, 2015

HIIT Day Three: HIIT Me Baby, One More Time

It can't be May already! I feel like I just posted about April showers, but here it is and there are the roses in my front flower gardens this morning. When I moved in a year ago they were just laying on the ground. I added a trellis for them and now they're flourishing. I'm still working on filling in all of my flower boxes, flower beds, and gardens. It's a process that I'll be talking about more on Tuesday when we get the fifth part of the 2015 Fitness Challenge.

Today I want to talk more about HIIT and why I skipped my workout on Thursday.

Quitting Before HIITing
Last month I chose to try three different HIIT workouts on three different days of the month: the 10th, 20th, and 30th of April. Here you can read about my first and second HIIT workouts. Last week, however, I subbed for four extra fitness classes on top of the other four that I teach weekly. This caused some upset in my regular training program and I opted to nix a lot of my running and walking for the week. This was also in part to the pain I was feeling; reminiscent of the piriformis syndrome that I suffered once before. I just wanted to rest, but was still determined to fit in my third HIIT workout. However, when Thursday came around, my pain and fatigue got the better of me. I taught yoga Thursday morning and then rested during the afternoon when the kids rested. I had Pilates that night and when I got home my body was so HUNGRY!

I chose a few days of recovery before attempting anything again. Friday morning I got up early and started packing for a short trip out of town. I went to see my sister graduate from college. It's been a long time coming and 5.5 years ago she came to visit me in North Carolina for a few weeks to get a break from life and never left. She graduated with honors and plans to go to graduate school in the spring. I'm so incredibly proud of her! I also got to see my mom! Because she lives in Iowa I see her so rarely and it's been since January. However, I get to see her again in 11 days for a trip home to Iowa for my youngest brother's graduation from college. My other brother and my cousin were also there and my boys loved having time joking around with their uncle.

My body also loved the chance to just NOT DO ANYTHING!

Back at It
After our trip Friday-Saturday, my body was ready again. It was three days into May already and I was feeling kind of lazy at that point. So, Sunday I went out for the HIIT workout described here. I chose to use part of my 1.5 mile route so that I didn't end up too far from home with a lot to run back after the intervals. Unfortunately, I've gotten faster and only had room for 3 of the 1 minute intervals. Actually, I should say, THANKFULLY I only had room for the three intervals. They were harder than I expected!

I was worried during the almost 10 minute warm-up run that I was going too fast. This is something that I really have trouble with....pacing myself. I was happy to find out that the 3 intervals were almost 45 sec/mile faster than the warm-up, but I was begging for the end of the 10 second sprint on all three. The 30 seconds at "slow" didn't feel long enough. However, my form felt great and I am happy to report that I do not hurt today as I feared I might. I cooled down a bit, drank some water, and was able to fit in my resistance training exercises or some version of them in my back yard. I was fairly satisfied with the total workout.

One thing I would have changed? Performed this workout on a track. Note that it states you CANNOT do it on a treadmill to perform it correctly. Treadmills set the pace for you and the best way to get faster is to push yourself faster....not as a treadmill to do it for you.

HIIT it again?
So, after the three different workouts, the one I loved the most was the second one. I liked the idea of resistance training and getting my heart rate up at the same time. I will definitely use this when I travel as I think that that's where it fits into my life the best. However, overall I like my standard training routine more than the HIIT workouts for the life I lead at the moment. I see the benefit of each of these and I see myself using HIIT training more in the future when I head back into competing. Races just aren't on my radar at the moment and for general fitness I don't feel the need to HIIT it regularly.

How you HIIT
If you're thinking about trying out HIIT training or if you're alredy doing it, I highly suggest reading this article:

5 Common Myths About High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Tell me about your HIIT experience.

What is keeping you from trying it? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Double Yellow Line

My recent overuse injury has been causing me some problems in the area of my piriformis muscle, IT band, and knee. I'm also dealing with a bit of a pulled hamstring on the same leg. So, I've chosen to add a little more biking to the mix until I can get a good new pair of running shoes so that I don't actually injure myself. The biking is also a chance to save some money on gas and do a good deed for the environment.
As you can see, this was a leisurely ride and not one for major cardio benefits.
Today we rode to the park for Ike's Little Explorer's Program on Baby Animals. Then, we rode back. The thing I love about riding with the two of them is that it means we go further outdoors than we do when we walk or run and I'm still getting some exercise. They get to see new things and ask lots of questions about them. A few Sundays ago we saw a baby turtle crossing the bike path. It means that we get to do more in less time and it also says to my kids that my exercise is not above time with them....I can have both!

What do I not love about riding with the two of them? Inconsiderate vehicles. People, I don't know where you come from, but in Iowa a double yellow line means DO NOT PASS! (North Carolinians don't observe this same courtesy.) I don't care that I was only going about 10mph, but I had precious cargo behind me and did not deserve the fear of becoming a sideswiped bug on the road because you felt the need to get to the stop light minutes before me. And then what happened? I rode up next to you to wait at THE EXACT SAME LIGHT!

Also, there is one busy road I have to cross that doesn't have a great traffic light system and I have to wait for long periods of time with my left leg (shorter of the two) stretched out to it's maximum tippy toe reach for far too long. I can't ever risk just dismounting the bike because the light could change at any moment or just leave me hanging there for about 5 minutes. You never can tell.

My ride today helped me to reach my 60 mile goal for the month of April. I have two more yoga classes to teach for today and then 5 other fitness classes between Wednesday and Thursday. Other than also fitting in a HIIT workout on Thursday, I'm taking the rest of the month off to rest my body. Rest is important and so is following the rules of the road.

Here are two other bike related posts you should read:
Friday Fast Tips: Signaling on the Bike
Shed the Monster

Have you been out on your bike yet this spring?
What gets you excited about biking?
What do you fear/loathe about it?
Do you know the rules of the road?
How are you doing on your April goals?

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Mom Post

Hey, check your calendar...April is about to end and that means that it's almost Mother's Day! I have to admit that I get more and more excited about this day each year that my kids are getting older.
Last year they surprised me with some new things for growing (a fig tree that is barely making it at the moment and a plantar box for the back deck which we are hopefully tearing down later this year).

My boys are very sweet and they are total mama's boys at this age in life. In honor of them and the funny things they do, I thought I'd share with you a few funny things....in my opinion, as well as a few of my favorite parent related posts of late.

A Bit of Kid Humor
My oldest son is a crack up! He is 4 and just says the most stinkin cute things to me lately. First there are the names he calls us. I remember that when my oldest nephew was younger he'd call my brother a silly hotdog and I love how creative they get with their limited vocabulary. Lately my husband has been "Chuggington Turner On-er" and I am "Stinky Cheese Hippo". I honestly don't take offense to being called a hippo because my 4 year old doesn't associate the term hippo with being large, heavy, or fat. It's just an animal that he wanted to call his mom to see what her reaction would be....I laughed.

He's also become more aware of his surroundings. During Easter weekend we were at my in-laws and I saw a commercial for Asheville, NC. When we first met, my husband lived in Asheville. I turned to our 9 year old niece and said, "Have you ever been to Asheville? Your Uncle Mike used to live there." She never went. My son then chimes in with, "Well, I used to live in there!" as he points to my stomach. We all cracked up and assured him that he was correct in his recounting of events.

We moved a year ago and have since then talked a lot about if we'll stay in this "new house" forever. Some days his outlook is that he never wants to leave and other days he's ready to move now. We talked about where we might want to live and both decided that we'd like to live somewhere that there are mountains with snow on top. He asked which states have those and I listed a few. California was on the list and this was his response: "Let's move to California so I can see Wheel of Fortune." He's quite perceptive if I do say so myself.

He also recently learned his first knock knock joke...
Knock, Knock
Who's there?
Someone too small to reach the doorbell.

I taught him that one because it was short enough for him to memorize the whole thing. My mom and sister didn't get it because they said it needed more. HE'S 4! At least he waits for the punch line!

And because I don't want to forget the little guy. The way he says his new favorite word cracks me up!

Good Reads
Shit My Family Says to Me, Part 98 - We Don't Chew Glass
In the ’70s We Just Called It Parenting - The Next Delusion
57 More Photos that would get our parents arrested if they were taken today - Mommy Shorts
What will you be doing in 2 weeks?
Favorite Mother's Day memory?
What kid joke should I teach my 4 yo next?