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?