2014 To Do List – How Did I Do?

Every year I make a To Do List instead of resolutions. This is the time of the year where I check in on my 2014 list to see how I did!

2014 To Do List - how did I do? | Living Consciously Blog

2014 To Do list

1. Go to the dentist.

Did it with a Groupon! Yay! They said they found 1 cavity for sure and maybe another one but I didn’t have the funds to fix it and it doesn’t hurt. I have been oil pulling in hopes that it will help delay any issues. The list didn’t say I had to fix anything!

2. Fix the paint in the half bath downstairs.

I did not do this. I did locate the paint but it is in this huge container that I cannot figure out how to open.

I think the only way to open it is to put it in the car (VERY HEAVY) and drive to the paint store where we bought it more than 3 years ago and ask them to open it with some kind of special tool. That is a lot of effort. Every time I thought about it, I had to go take a nap.

3. Eliminate the part time jobs that do not generate income.

I feel like I have done a really good job of this, even when it hurt. I am not teaching Kids Yoga anymore. Which made me sad and made some of my little yogis sad, but it was the best for my life balance and for my own children. At one point I was devoting around 8 hours a week to Kids Yoga and making less than $2 an hour when it came down to doing the math. There was also the stress of shuffling my own children to childcare and rushing to pick them up on time, etc. Letting go of that has been very beneficial overall.

I involuntarily lost many of my weekly Pilates classes when my studio cancelled morning classes. Which was painful, but necessary. I have been using the extra time in the mornings to have mindful reading and prayer. It’s actually be really great.

4. Try to blog at least 3 times a week.

Hahaha…. NO. I am down to about once a week, or every 10 days. However, I participated in a conversation with a few other bloggers last month about how our frequency has decreased but we all feel that we produce higher quality and our traffic has not suffered. So: thank you! Thank you for reading even when I post sporadically!

5. Address my health issues.

I really feel like I gave this my best shot. Things I did:

30 day macrobiotic cleanse (other posts here, here, here, and here)
natural skin care
naturopathic treatment
liver detox

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much change. I had several months of severe flare-ups in digestion and skin issues after each attempt. Not the kind where the body is flushing out toxins, because I “waited it out” for 2 months each time and it did not get better. I am not sure what the next steps are, but I will keep you posted.

6. Keep up or even expand my personal yoga practice.

My favorite part of 2014 was getting back into a regular studio practice! I have seen huge growth by putting myself under the instruction of teachers whom I admire and by allowing my mind into the stillness that a dedicated practice demands. I have really loved the instructors at The Yoga Factory. I also visited Nama Shivaya in Dallas and enjoyed it as well. Something new that I tried in 2014 was Holy Yoga. I know, I totally laughed when I first heard about that, too. I will have a guest post coming in the next month explaining more about what it is and why I stopped laughing.

The summary of this year is really one of slowing down, listening for direction rather than blazing ahead, and growing inwardly. Waiting, accepting, and listening. In this listening, I have clearly heard that my path lies in completing my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I have spent the last few months exploring the various local options that would fit with my SAHM schedule and not take time away from my children. I will have more posts about my path in this direction and I hope that you will join me in my journey and give me feedback as I go!

Looking back in gratefulness to 2014 and forward in anticipation of 2015!

You have to get up pretty early

You have to get up pretty early: the sun coming up at 7am as I'm headed home | Living Consciously Blog
The sun coming up at 7am as I’m heading home.

How is the part time job going, Jenny? (I teach Lagree Fitness at a local studio – it’s a form of Pilates on the Megaformer)

Welllll, let me tell you.

For the past 2 years, I have been teaching a class or two on the weekend and 2-3 morning classes during the week. It works great for me, because on the weekend the kids get some alone time with Daddy and I get some adult interaction doing something that I love! The mornings have also been nice because the kids are still asleep, and just getting up as I arrive home. Some days Daddy gets them completely ready and even takes them to preschool. You can read more about my philosophy of working out in the morning in my post about working out as a SAHM.

And for the last 2 years, morning classes have been verrry slim.

As in, 1-2 people in a class with a 10 person capacity.

And more than 50% of the time: no one.

No one was dedicated enough to their fitness routine to get up at 6am to work out.

We changed the time to 7am.

Still no one.

We have changed days all over the place: every day of the week, Tuesday/Thursdays, MWF.

Nope.

It is totally understandable that the studio finally actually cancelled morning classes altogether this week. And that, therefore, I’m not really technically “working part time” anymore. Because is working 1 hour a week even enough to call part time? Probably not.

So many times on this blog, I take the middle road. I respect all peoples’ choices even if they are different from my own. But I have had enough of the following constantly recurring conversation and I am taking a stand.

Here goes:

Stranger/casual acquaintance/current studio client: “Wow, your arms are amazing. I wish I was that strong. I would give anything to look like that. What kind of workout do you do?”

Me: “[insert explanation of Lagree fitness], I teach morning classes twice a week at 6am [or 7am]”

Stranger/acquaintance/client: “OMG I could never do that! 7am! That is waaaay too early, haha, you must be joking!”

Often there is a pause where they are waiting for me to tell them some other way of getting in shape. I have nothing else to say because, um, I just said it. Get up & DO SOMETHING.

Does no one else see the problem here?!

Intrusively remarking stranger, if you were truly interested in a radical change in your muscle mass and strength, as you say that you are, why do you put restrictions on yourself? If I told you, “Just buy this pill, drink this powder, say this magical incantation under a full moon”, would you do it? Trust me, some people would. But if I am telling you to just get up an hour earlier a few times a week? SURELY NOT, YOU MUST BE JOKING. THERE MUST BE ANOTHER WAY.

Obviously, this is a very specific type of person I am talking about here. There are plenty of us who get up at 5am or 6am to get some fitness in at the beginning of our day. There are others of us who get up that early to read, meditate, or (let’s be honest) are woken at that hour or earlier by a small human. Many other Lagree studios are completely sold out at 6am and 7am. Yoga studios often have maxed out classes at that time too (I know, because I go sometimes).

I AM talking to the people who say that getting up at 5am is impossible.

I AM talking to the people who want to see results without any sacrifice.

I AM talking to the people who aren’t willing to take the risk and therefore, unfortunately, will never see the gain.

I am sad for you. It’s just one little “no” the night before.
No, I won’t watch one more show.
No, I won’t get started on Pinterest or Facebook right now.
No, I won’t pick up that magazine.

So that you can say “yes”.
Yes, I will go prepare a healthy morning snack now.
Yes, I will set out my workout clothes.
Yes, I will register for that class.
Yes, I will go to bed now, even though it is early.

Yes, I will see a change in my energy level, strength, and stamina.

Because, you will.

#YogaEveryDamnDay: why challenges are fun for me

Even though I might take a break from blogging every once in a while to catch up on real life, I never stop Instagramming! Why? Because I participate in daily yoga challenges on Instagram. These challenges are run by yogis (often well-known yogis, most frequently instructors of some kind) who partner with each other and with yoga-related brands to present a pose each day during the challenge. The challenges are identified by hashtags, which is how things are found on Instagram and Twitter. In April, I did #BackbendMadness2014 and #SpreadAhimsa. Each day, I did the yoga pose presented by the hosts and posted a picture of myself in the pose (or attempting it!) with the hashtag of the challenge and tagging the hosts. At the end of these challenges, the hosting brands give away the fun prizes to random participants drawn by the hosting yogis. Last month, I actually won the Dolly Moo gift package from the #SpreadAhimsa challenge hosted by @yogagoddess_jo, @dalima26 and @sequellife_bp. Their challenge was also my favorite because it was small enough that we could all talk to each other and encourage each other! I really feel like I got to know the hosts.

I was so excited about winning these products that I had to share them with you. Please note, nobody paid me to share these! I just won them as part of a challenge giveaway and love them so much!

Dolly Moo Handmade Essential Oil body products

In this bundle:

Sage smudge stick – never used these before but looks neat!

Tangerine Oat Body Scrub – probably my favorite! I am embarrassed to say that I have been addicted to Arbonne Ginger Citrus body scrub for a long time even though it contains tons of toxins that are terrible for me. This is a much healthier, handmade product with NO TOXINS! Love it so much!

Lotus Aura oil – I haven’t used “perfume” in years, just versions of essential oil blends in natural body products. This blend is so yummy that it is a great perfume replacement! I believe it is also supposed to help enhance meditation or something, but I don’t know anything about that.

Lavender Essential Water – this spray has so many uses! I sprayed it on my face right away for cooling and calming when I returned for our trip. I have also sprayed it in our bedroom and in the bathroom to get rid of odors.

Handmade Lip Balm Trio – with combos like Peppermint Clove and Lemon Lavender, these balms are so smooth and luxurious smelling that I actually threw away some of the waxy, bland lip balms that I had lying around.

 

Aside from even the amazing gifts from Dolly Moo and the camaraderie of the #IGyogafamily, I very much enjoy the way daily challenges force me to be in a yoga mindset all day, and to make my practice daily instead of random. I also learn some great new poses that I have never tried! This month’s challenge has been #YogaToTheCore with @kinoyoga, @beachyogagirl, and @stoked_yogi, which is dear to my heart because it intertwined yoga with Pilates.

Next month (um, 1 day away!), I am going to be participating in the #MayIHandstand challenge where I will tackle my slow but steady progression to handstanding by the time I am 40 years old (follow my hashtag #handstandby40 on Instagram). I have taken some serious ground since January, but I still have a long way to go. I’d love it if you join me!

Gaiam Yoga Mat Finder -- Find your perfect mat(ch) with the Gaiam Yoga Mat Finder!

Using the Megaformer to improve your yoga practice

Using the Lagree Megaformer to improve your yoga practice | Conscientious Confusion

I’ve been doing yoga for around 11 years now, and I’ve been a Lagree fitness instructor since May of 2012. Before Lagree, I was content to get a little bit of a good stretch from yoga. Since I have developed significant core strength, balance, and overall muscle tone from using the Megaformer over the past 2 years, my yoga practice has really amped up! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I love participating in daily yoga challenges. Far from converting me from yoga to Pilates, Lagree fitness and the Megaformer have dramatically improved my yoga practice. I now do yoga every single day, and work out on the Megaformer 3-4 times per week.

For those of you who are looking for a way to really take ground in either your regular fitness regimen, or specifically in your yoga practice, I made a short video of some moves you would do in any Lagree studio on the Megaformer to improve your yoga practice, enabling you to do inversions and balance poses, as well as build strength safely.

Using the Megaformer to improve your yoga practice {video here}

Filmed at Ultimate Pilates Plano (where I am an instructor!). Come see us for our $10 first class!

Tell me in the comments: what yoga poses do you find most difficult in your practice?

I will do my best to post further videos on how to build your strength in that area using the Megaformer.

How I Build a Group Fitness Music Playlist

One of the the key elements to a great group fitness experience is what you hear. Of course, the instructor’s voice is key because she is giving you direction and, ideally, encouragement. But beneath the instructor’s voice is the music. The right music keeps your heart pumping and makes you excited to keep moving. The best music even makes you want to dance a little! I am extremely picky about how I build my group fitness music playlists. I thought I’d share the guidelines I use when selecting songs. Whether you are a group fitness instructor or just want to build a playlist for your gym or at-home workouts, these guidelines are a great start.

How I Build A Group Fitness Music Playlist | Conscientious Confusion

  • Minimum BPM of 120. Lagree fitness classes are specifically tailored for songs using 120-140 bpm (beats per minute). I like 140 bpm the best.
  • No profanity. You might like profanity, or just not mind it, but as a group fitness instructor you have to consider your clients. For people who have suffered mental or emotional abuse, profanity is often a trigger. Respect those whose backgrounds you do not know and avoid profanity in music. If you love a song that contains cursing, try searching for the “Radio Edit” version of it where the profanity is bleeped out.
  • No offensive lyrics. This is different from profanity. Anything that talks about women being used as objects is out, for me. Similarly, I avoid overt and repetitive mentions of infidelity or name-calling.
  • No gaps in the beat. A lot of fancy DJ’s like to create maximum impact for their beat by incorporating a period of silence and then “dropping the beat” periodically throughout the song. Or having a dreamy no-drums singing transition halfway into the song (in the bridge). This doesn’t work for group fitness. If I’m making people suffer through 90 seconds of sit-ups and the beat suddenly  stops for 5 seconds in the last 10 seconds, I lose about half the class. Not cool. Songs like that get the “thumbs down”. Sorry, DJs!
  • No long periods of rapping.  Too much rhythmic talking and you, the instructor, are going to be competing with the rapper for attention because you are both talking.
  • No excessive repetition. I really liked one song that had a long period of some guy yelling, “Give it up! Give it up! Give it up!” or something to that effect. Maybe 2 repetitions is fine, but more than 5 seconds of the same phrase with the same inflection is going to become annoying fast. I have had clients comment on repetitions that I didn’t even notice when I built the playlist. Listen for those beforehand.
  • Listen to the ENTIRE song before putting it on the playlist. I’ve found some songs with really cool beats and added them to my playlist without listening to the whole thing, only to find later that they contained one of the elements I have described as best to avoid (most often offensive lyrics).

That’s what works for me, so far! For the record, my favorite “app for that” is Spotify Premium. Totally worth the $10 per month.

What do you think? What makes a group fitness music playlist great to you? Any tips to add?

4 MORE Things I’ve Learned from HipHop Music

4 MORE things I have learned from hip-hop dance music

It’s been over a year now that I’ve been teaching Lagree fitness classes to music at 140bpm or above, where I listen to far too much hip-hop dance music than is good for me. So it is time for another installment of Things I Have Learned From Hip-Hop Dance Music, you can find Part 1 here. This is Part 2, which is composed mostly of observations and speculation.

1. Where are the girls/boys at?

The person “singing” this song seems to have one of a few possible issues:

a) Is such a thorough third wave feminist that they do not see gender at all (much like some people “do not see color”) and is having to ask everyone around them for their specific gender identification in order to address them by the correct pronoun.

b) Is in a club setting so dark that they cannot find or distinguish between girls and boys. This could understandably be further complicated by androgynous dress and hairstyle, see “a”, above.

c) Is blind.

2. Party! Party! Party!

Again, a few possibilities exist:

a) Noun. We are being warned about a spontaneously occurring, unforeseen, incoming party. Look out! PARTY COMING!

b) Verb. The implied “you”. (You) party! Hey you, over there: Party! No, really, DO IT! Right now! YOU HAVE TO! YOU MUST! PARTY!

3. “Over there” or “Over here”

Now that I think about it, this is probably the answer to #1. Where is everyone? Over there. Over there on the dance floor. There she is, over there. Where we at? We over here! Where do you need to be? You need to be over here. Why? Because you’re over there right now and we over here. Obviously.

4. Put your hands in the air.

I’m pretty sure this one was heavily influenced by the deodorant/antiperspirant lobby. According to the lyrics of most songs, you are not really having a good time until your hands are in the air. One song that I am thinking of, in particular, just repeats it over and over: Put your hands in the air! Put your hands in the air! (Bonus if you do it even though “you just don’t care”). If you are just “gettin’ down”, your good time is not complete. You need to both get down AND put your hands in the air. I need someone to draw me a picture of this one so I can fully understand how these two things work together. Or have I just described twerking?

 

6 Tips for Getting Back to Fitness: my fitness journey leading up to now (Part II)

A few months ago, I shared my past fitness journey — what made me passionate about health and fitness initially, in my 20’s. That post ended when I was single and learning to alter my lifestyle and to listen to what made my body feel good or bad. At the time, that was the most fit that I had ever been in my life. However, I can safely say that now — at 35 and after having 2 babies in 2 years — I am actually in even better shape than I was back then. How did I get here from there?

It certainly wasn’t consistent! There were many periods of slipping back. When my husband and I were first married, we kept biking together, walking around White Rock Lake (because we lived right next to it and could cross the street and just walk!), and going to the YMCA together. During my pregnancy with Little Sir, I did prenatal yoga nearly every day, even when I was on bed rest. It was the only thing that helped with the crazy bad hip and back pain! I sat on a balance ball at work to maintain my core. Christian and I walked and walked and walked (largely to try to get my labor going, since I had prodromal labor for weeks).

It was after Little Sir’s birth that things really went downhill in my physical fitness. Sure, I lost the baby weight fairly quickly, but I was very weak and lacking the energy that physical fitness would have given me. I went back to work full time working 10 hour shifts, and LS didn’t sleep through the night until he was 10 months old. By then, I was more than 4 months pregnant with Little Lady and so exhausted and stressed that “working out” was the last thing on my mind. I was eating…whatever I could find around the house. When Little Lady was born, I was so completely buried in babies that I couldn’t even figure out how to fit exercise into my life. Again, I lost most of the baby weight, but that was mostly due to the fact that I couldn’t figure out out how to find time to eat! When I did eat, it was leftovers from the kids’ food or sugary, fatty foods that didn’t boost my energy level in the long term or provide essential nutrition.

So when my sweet friend Amanda told me that her friend was opening a studio teaching a Pilates-based workout and I could go through the training with them to be come an instructor, I said yes! It came at a good time for me because Little Lady was finally sleeping through the night (which happened at around 13 months), and I was staying home full time.

I’m not just voicing marketing material when I tell you that the Lagree Fitness workout is PERFECT for moms who want to get into shape in the most effective way possible, with the least amount of time and in the lowest impact way! I really believe in this workout and love to teach it because there is nothing else like it. Here’s a picture I took of the machines in the studio last week after class:

Lagree Fitness Megaformers at Ultimate Pilates Plano

As you can see, these aren’t your mama’s Reformers. These are Megaformers, which add additional resistance to every move we do during the workout and challenge the balance, activating the core, while at the same time taking the stress off joints and back so that they’re perfect for clients with injuries or difficulties doing traditional mat Pilates. I could go on and on, but here are my favorite aspects of the workout:

  • 50 minutes (some studios have even more compact 45 or 40 minute workouts)
  • complete cardio
  • full body strength training
  • low impact (great for people with joint or back issues)
  • only 3-4 workouts a week are sufficient due to the full body muscle exhaustion and need for recovery between workouts

Can you see why I love this?

In the last 6 months, I’ve also returned to my yoga roots by taking classes at We Yogis studio in Dallas, where they offer childcare for every adult class. This is also where I took certification to teach Kids YogaI’ll be teaching a Kids Yoga class at the Richardson rec center(s) in the Fall — either Heights or Huffhines. I’ve been teaching outdoor classes in my neighborhood and with Little Sir’s playgroup and other neighborhood children, and it’s been so much fun! I have found that yoga really opens up my chest and shoulders where I had started to see some damage from doing Megaformer workouts more often than is typically recommended. See, you should always follow your instructors’ suggestions! I should follow my own suggestions and make sure I rest fully between workouts.

6 Tips For Getting Back To Fitness After A Break

What have I learned about getting back to fitness after being derailed by childbirth and having young children?

  1. Make time for yourself. I wasn’t helping myself any by neglecting workouts because I was robbing myself of the energy boost that a workout supplies!
  2. Let go and trust your partner or childcare provider. When I started making the conscious choice to step away from my children and trust my husband to care for them for an hour in the mornings while I teach, I had to let go of control. Both Dad and the kids benefit from the time together and learn about how to live with each other without my interference. Does he feed or clothe them the same way I would? No, but that’s OK. Releasing my control frees all of us to learn and grow.
  3. Eat, but eat wisely. With this workout in particular, the metabolism takes a huge jump almost immediately and you will be STARVING. I tell my clients to listen to their body and eat when it is hungry, but be wise about food choices! Don’t go out and scarf a whole cake. Have some carrots with hummus, listen to how you feel. Take a break from eating and wait for the feeling of fullness to hit before eating some more.
  4. Listen to your body. When ramping up to a new fitness routine, it’s important to listen to your body before, during, and after a workout. Your body will help you discover what other aspects of your life need to change. For example, if I eat badly the day before I do a workout, I can feel the sluggishness in my body and I can see a definite lack of strength. On the other hand, I can tell when I’m eating well and getting enough rest, because I am stronger.
  5. Get enough rest. If you have to choose between getting enough sleep and working out on some days, listen to your body — sometimes it is better to choose sleep. Just make sure you schedule that next workout in advance so you don’t start the slow descent into apathy.
  6. Take the next step, challenge yourself. There was a point where I started receiving feedback that my workouts were too easy. I had lost context and wasn’t really pushing myself or my clients to the next level. Everything was easy for me because I’d gained a lot of strength, so I started to plateau. I appreciate feedback from my clients in this area because it really helped me ramp up my routines to make them more fast-paced and challenging for everyone. If you’re getting bored, change your routine or tell your group fitness instructor you’d like to see some new moves.

I’ll be doing one more post on my current yoga journey in a few weeks, including some ideas for fitting in fitness when you care for children full-time!

What are some ways that you have eased back into fitness after a time away? I’d love to hear about your journey too!

 

Note: I was NOT compensated by any of the studios or companies for mentioning them in this post, although obviously I do work for Ultimate Pilates Plano and I substitute teach Lil Yogis classes at the We Yogis studio occasionally. I work for them both as an independent fitness instructor and do not receive commission for directing anyone to their studios.

7 Quick Takes #47

— 1 —

This is going to be really fast because I need to go nap. I’m teaching at 6:30am 3 mornings a week now instead of only 2, and it’s really hard for me to get up at 5am 3 days a week if I don’t get enough sleep somehow. Naps have really been standing in lieu of going to bed early since we have so much going on most evenings.

— 2 —

Speaking of teaching Pilates, if you are in the Plano area and would like to try out our Megaformer Pilates classes, we are running a great special on VOICE Daily Deals here. I recommend the 3-pack deal. Come see us!

— 3—

vIf you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you know that I dyed my hair pink. Here’s a quick pick I took just now wearing very little makeup.

I have discovered that this haircolor really looks better if I wear some kind of color on my lips but, oops, I wasn’t doing that in this picture.

— 4 —

Hopefully this will be invisible to you, the readers, but I’ll probably be migrating this blog to WordPress (it’s on Blogger now) some time in the next few months. I am worried and reluctant to make this move, but there are reasons bigger than my personal preference that are involved. Some of the primary goals are to make the site much more usable for my readers, and make commenting easier.

— 5 —

Everyone here is freaked out about the flu, how about where you are? My friend EcoKaren did a great post today about natural ways to prevent the flu, aside from or in addition to vaccination. I highly recommend checking it out! As for handwashing, remember that last week I blogged about how to make your own antibacterial hand soap from essential oils and castille soap.

— 6 —

It’s January 11 and I have already completed one of the items on my To Do List: making our family blog books for 2011 and 2012. They take about 2 weeks to arrive from the publisher. Can’t wait to see how they turned out!

— 7 —

Have to give one last shout-out to my sponsor, Happy Feet, Healthy Body! Along the lines of flu prevention, remember that she has hand sanitizer pens made from essential oils. If you’ve just started a New Year’s workout routine (or you take one of my classes, haha!), I highly recommend her Lavender bath salts – lavender soothes sore muscles and will help you sleep at night.

~~~
Well that’s all for this week, be sure to visit Conversion Diary for links to more 7 Quick Takes Fridays.

To Do List 2012: How did I do?

Oh look, it’s almost 2013! Time to look back at my To Do List from 2012 and see if I accomplished any of it.

1. Eat better.
To make this a little more measurable, I’ll just say that I want to get back to eating at least 5-7 whole fruits and veggies per day.
Sort of done. I have been doing a lot better as far as cutting out the extra sugar and carbs but I’m probably still not up to 5-7 veggies a day. Mostly because I give all the fruits and veggies in the house to my kids, and there are rarely any left for me. Those things are expensive! But I am still drinking my NingXia Red, which is packed with antioxidants, so I think that helps.

2. Resume meal planning.
I did pretty good with this probably 6 months out of the year, off and on.  At one point, I got depressed about how much money we spend on groceries and stopped even trying. Then we found out that Little Sir is dairy and soy intolerant and that threw another wrench in the planning because I can’t use Food On The Table or eMeals since they all contain dairy ingredients that I can’t always substitute. I am currently off the wagon. This is going to show up on the 2013 list again, dang it.

3. Regular exercise.
I want to aim for 3 days a week.

Oh thank God, one that I can actually cross off the list. Thanks to becoming a Lagree Fitness instructor at Ultimate Pilates Plano, I am now in better shape than I was before the kids. I actually do have six-pack abs, not lying. I would love to take pictures but that seems really indecent for a family-friendly blog. OK, I did take pictures in the mirror once but I haven’t shown anyone. However, this is not bragging because it is very hard work and continues to be very challenging. It’s not like I am saying “oh look, I have magically great abs! Whee! Be jealous!”. Nooooo, I write routines that are specifically heavy on moves targeting my transverse abdominal muscles and my obliques, and I do those routines for 50 minutes, at least 3 times a week. And I must mention, I teach these routines in my classes so if you want to work on your post-baby body like I did…you know where I am!

4. Attempt monetization of this blog
“Attempt monetization” is not a very measurable goal, but let’s just say I’ll research and apply for some ad networks and work on ways that I could increase my readership. Such as participating in blogger link-ups.

First of all, I would like to give yet another shout-out to my wonderful sponsor Tanya of Happy Feet, Healthy Body who has an Etsy shop selling handmade bath and health products that are completely free of toxins but also provide the natural healing powers of essential oils. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing her products! She has an excellent headache remedy and an amazing lavender lip balm that I use every night. And if you are in the Dallas area, she can even arrange for local delivery rather than paying for shipping.

I feel like I have done some positive work in this direction. I have also joined up with a number of other green bloggers via The Green Sisterhood and some closed Facebook groups. I actually don’t participate in a ton of link-ups, but that is because I am very picky about my topics and I don’t do a lot of giveaways. I feel like I am heading in the right direction and I’m looking forward to 2013!

5. Start potty learning with my son
This is pretty much done! Now that we’ve addressed the stomach issues of dairy and soy intolerance and provided both negative and positive incentives (positive alone did not inspire him), he has very few pee or poop accidents. Well, thank goodness that only took about 7 months.

6. Decorate the kids’ rooms
I think they look a lot less bare now. I put the animal and letter decals up in my son’s room and hung his name picture and handprints, and he accumulated a number of additional toys and books to fill up some of the extra space. I put up a lovely tree decal in my daughter’s room and bought some curtains. She also got a bookcase with bins like brother’s and a bureau for her clothes. I am sure I could do more but there’s not a ton of space. I like what we have right now!

7. Plant a garden
Hahaha, that was pretty much a failure except for the bell peppers, but there is a good reason that I didn’t specify that it had to be a successful garden. I ended up getting enough bell peppers that, when chopped, fill up a plastic baggie (I know, PLASTIC, I lose my green cred yet again) in the freezer. That is a significant crop considering how small they were. But they died in the snow on Christmas Day, so that’s done. Since we have such a nice raised bed setup now, I’ll try again next year.

On group fitness and motivation

It’s been almost 5 months now since I became a certified Lagree Fitness Instructor and things are a little slow-going at the studio. As much as I am addicted to Pilates on the Megaformer and I LOVE what the workout has done for me physically, my morale was beginning to sag as I came into an empty studio every day and did my own routines…alone. When it comes to a workout as intense as the Lagree Megaformer workout, it becomes difficult to stay motivated to complete the workout alone, with no one urging you on. Music, however pumped-up it might be, can only take you so far.

In the past, I was never much of a fan of group fitness classes. For years when I was single, I worked out alone on the elliptical machines at the gym, or rollerbladed by myself, eventually working up to cycling with my husband. The closest I got to group fitness was yoga. As you might be aware, yoga is a very internal practice. The instructor motivates, but not in a harsh way. Practicing at your own level is always encouraged and discomfort is seen as a sign that modifications are needed. You can “plateau” in yoga if you want to, and it’s kind of OK unless you decide to take it further of your own initiative.

Pilates on the Megaformer is completely different than all that. Have I mentioned the word “intense” 50 times yet? It is. In order to make it through 50 minutes of this workout, you need serious encouragement. This comes not only from the instructor and the tempo of the music, but also from the energy in the class atmosphere. I’ve found that I really NEED to be able to look over at the person next to me and think, “If she can do it, I can do it!”, or I will give up from the pain. Sometimes, know that someone else is doing this too is all that keeps me going even though my legs, stomach, and arms are shaking from fatigue. And that, my friends, is how the workout is designed. Reaching that level is what causes this form of exercise to keep burning calories for 24-38 hours after you leave the studio. It’s what keeps producing results as you go back. I love it!!

But, it’s difficult to maintain alone.

I was feeling a little down and burnt out this weekend, when I heard that Sebastien Lagree would be teaching 4 special classes at the new Pilates Barre studio location at Preston and Forest in Dallas. Only 10 minutes from my house! I did some serious schedule rearranging and made it there to the 5:30pm class last night. I was like a great big geek meeting Sebastien, creator of Lagree Fitness and the Megaformer machine.

Me and Sebastien Lagree
Me and Sebastien Lagree!!
I’m sure he doesn’t know who I am aside from a weird geeky instructor fan 🙂

Of course, there is no one like Sebastien to completely kick it into gear. The energy in that PACKED class was amazing and encouraging. My muscles were shaking probably 15 minutes into the 50 minute class but it was awesome. I came away very encouraged about this workout and what I do.

And now I’d like to draw a parallel to a life lesson about how having people around you who know you to encourage you is important in life as well as in fitness. When I was younger I never had that, but now I do and it has made all the difference in all areas of my life. I guess you could say that I’ve converted to being a big fan of group fitness, when before I was a fan of solitary workouts.

What about you? Have you noticed a difference in your motivation when you are surrounded with others who can encourage you?