Gearing up to teach my first yoga class

I have been practicing all week, here and there, for my very first yoga class. I have taught other fitness classes, but never yoga. And no matter how many fitness classes one has taught, the nerves of a new class do not go away.

But with nerves comes excitement too. I do feel honored to be teaching others the gift that is yoga. And I feel lucky that students will actually be in my class. That isn’t a guarantee, you know.

Tonight is it, dear friends! Tonight is my first class. So earlier today, I put on my new maternity workout shorts that were gifted to me from For Two Fitness® to review and got to stretching. It was divine and I feel ready. Granted, I will still have the nerves as I drive up to the studio, but overall I feel ready.

I will provide an update on how my first class goes later this week on the blog. Today I want to talk about the shorts. I know so many other pregnant mama’s out there so let me just tell you, these are awesome! So comfortable and if it weren’t 50 degrees outside right now I would also wear these for my boot camp workouts.

I had never heard of For Two Fitness® before I got pregnant. And if you are into fitness like I am, you want to stay fit during pregnancy so as soon as my belly got bigger and my regular workout shorts got uncomfortable (there is nothing worse than doing squats with shorts that are too tight and don’t move with belly) I started looking for prenatal workout wear.

Here is a little about For Two Fitness®: For Two Fitness® is the premier maternity fitness apparel brand, offering performance apparel that functions and flatters like nothing else. They are committed to celebrate and support moms who are striving for healthy, fit pregnancies. Their fabrics are high performance, soft, moisture wicking, and originate from the same mills as the fancy athletic apparel you already wear. Maternity clothes are expensive as it is, so they work hard to keep these high end, specialty garments affordable. They offer basic neutrals and vivid, on-trend colors that pop. They also design all their own garments in-house and slogans are trademarked so you won’t find these cute tops anywhere else!

Love that! I am in my third trimester so comfort is HUGE for me. Here is a pic of me practicing my yoga in the maternity yoga shorts.

IMG_0236

If you have been pregnant or are currently pregnant, did you purchase any maternity workout wear? If so, what has been a lifesaver for you?

Disclaimer: I was gifted the maternity shorts by For Two Fitness® but all opinions are my own.

How I Like to Manage Stress

How I Like To Manage Stress

Stress never goes away. Every single one of us will encounter stress on a regular basis. Since we can’t completely exterminate it, we have to learn to embrace and manage stress instead.

For me, the first four months of this year have been a little more stressful than normal. Surprisingly, I have felt happier than ever though!  It could be that most of my stress is from good things. But even more than that, I feel happy because of my attitude and priorities.

I made a commitment to enjoy and savor every moment of my wedding planning process (or as much as I can).

I made a commitment to put managing stress as top priority.

I think the first commitment is pretty self explanatory. Everyone wants to remember the little things leading up to their big day, as well as the day itself. I also wanted to celebrate with my fiancé on a regular basis. We had already made a commitment to each other by staying in the relationship for so long (going on 7 years), but are solidifying it by getting married. And it has been SO COOL to see how excited we both have been throughout these past several months.

The second commitment is a little more of a challenge. I think stress reduction and management tips are so individualized. What works for me may not work for you. And believe me, I have tried several things I thought would work because it worked for a health guru, but it left me feeling more stressed. Go figure! So, even though I am sharing a few tips that work for me I encourage you to experiment. Find what works best for you!

You can always try a class at the gym or maybe go for a walk solo. Sometimes your health insurance will even help you get going.For example, Oscar Health Insurance in New York and New Jersey gives their members free Misfit activity bands for tracking their steps and also offers reimbursements for gym and yoga studio memberships. I was asked by Oscar Health Insurance how I manage stress and after I responded I kept thinking… this would make a great blog post! So my props goes to them for this post.

Another thing I want to note before I get to my list is that trying to be perfect with stress management can backfire. Did you read that? It can cause more stress. I once set a goal to meditate every day for 15 minutes per day. I also had a misguided perception that this meant the 15 minutes had to be me in a dark room sitting cross-legged with light music and a candle. I had to focus on my breath and keep my mind calm. That didn’t last long for me. It wasn’t until I realized that meditation can be done in SO MANY WAYS that I could experiment and find different ways to meditate and kick my stupid goal to the curb. That was a goal that I ended up more stressed out over because I found myself not always wanting to sit in a dark room. Sometimes I wanted to get outside and move a little. Well strike the harp… moving meditation works! And is way more me.

Let’s get to it… here is my list of stress management techniques that work for me:

  1. Moving Meditation. Some days this looks like a 20 minute yoga session at home (usually with Yoga with Adriene or Tara Stiles with Strala Yoga.) Other days this looks like a 30-50 minute walk outdoors. When I walk outdoors, I always use my Ipod. I LOVE MUSIC! And you know what? Music can ease stress too.
  2. Putting the phone down before bed and reading a book or magazine. Oh man oh man, if I had a dime for every time I thought I could look at my phone before bed and sleep well I would be rich. I know the lesson, but don’t always follow it. However, when I do follow it I sleep like a baby. Not looking at the phone before bed is a game changer for stress reduction and improved sleep! No lie. So here’s to finding more books to read (as long as it isn’t a page turner that keeps me up too late). J
  3. Listening to a guided meditation. I have tried a few different guided meditations and I always turn to the ones from Deepak and Oprah. I love them! I have two: Desire and Destiny and then Perfect Health. I love listening to these every so often (~3 days per week) while on one of my outdoor walks. It is a 21 day guided meditation, but I don’t follow the days. I press shuffle!
  4. Bubble Bath, Tea, or Hot Tub. What do all of these have in common? HEAT! I love hot things… I know, that may sound weird, but I am in Texas after all. Plus, heat really does calm the body and ease the mind. I tend to grab a cup of hot tea, hot water with lemon, or a café misto during the day. If I really need to relax at the end of the day I will take a bubble bath. We also recently got a hot tub so sometimes I will choose that. Both are so soothing!

Now it is your turn, what works best for you?

Take Your Pick: Health Challenges

challenges

I know I have said this before, but I LOVE health challenges. I love them because they are a fun and simple way to create new habits or delete the old. Challenges give you stepping stones to reach a new goal… we are told to love the journey, right?

So, if you are like me… perhaps you are looking for a new health challenge to embark upon. I am thrilled to the nines for a January yoga challenge I just found out about. And I will mention it here, but since yoga isn’t currently everyone’s thang I have a list of five different health challenges you can do after the holidays.

I do not recommend doing all 5 at once unless you really do want to pull your hair out. Pick a couple and enjoy every moment!

This is not a “best of” list… just one that I put together after hearing of a few random challenges coming up. If you know of any more, please let me know. I particularly LOVE instagram photo challenges and have not seen one lately.

{Challenge #1} If you are like me and want to do a yoga challenge in January, I highly recommend the 30 days of yoga with Yoga With Adriene. You can click here to sign up for the challenge and find out more details. It is absolutely FREE!

{Challenge #2} If you are wanting to follow the next fad diet as your new year’s resolution, I highly recommend you don’t and instead break up with diets. My blogger friend and fellow dietitian has a free 21 day break up with diets forever challenge on her website. You can click here to sign up for the challenge. You will see the sign up at the top and side bar. Feel good in that body of yourS!

{Challenge #3} Have you EVER done a Tone It Up series? They NEVER disappoint and my favorite series is coming up in January, the Love Your Body Series. Tone It Up has not announced the series on their website yet, but it is usually announced the last few days of December. You can click here to visit their website and check back around December 29th. Or you can always check back on my blog. I will be participating in this again this year so will likely post about it.

{Challenge #4} Many of us have the nutrition and fitness down, but need help with stress management. Is that you? If so, try this free meditation challenge through One Mind Live. It’s only one week long and starts on December 24th, ending on January 1st. Just enough time to get you started on a meditation routine! You can click here to sign up.

{Challenge #5} Are you as in love with beachbody programs as I am? I have Turbofire, Insanity, and PIYO. I love them all, but am currently only doing PIYO. I haven’t done a beachbody challenge in awhile, but if you are wanting some extra support during your beachbody workouts I highly suggest hooking up with a beachbody coach for a challenge. Every coach and challenge is different, but the only investment is usually shakeology (which is very tasty!). I know some great coaches if you need recommendations and you can click on their name to be taken to their Facebook page: Johanna Hatcliff, Marisa Owen, and Laura O’Melia. You get hands on support during these challenges and can meet new peeps!

Alright, dear friends.. how is that to end the year and start anew in 2015? Wishing you well!

Monday Ramblings

mondayramblings

I am a mess. Is anyone else out there a mess right now? That’s why I just need a little dose of Monday ramblings. A little time to get a few things off my chest. Taking pen to paper for a vent sesh. Hell yes!

And I don’t judge.. if you need to do the same, please do. I am a good listener.

So first up, I am OVER sweets. Ergh! My tummy is agreeing with me. I had 3 holiday parties this weekend and while they were SO MUCH FUN and I am glad I went, I ate a little too many of the chocolates, cake things, and cookies (and more). My digestive system is saying, “WHOA there buddy… let’s use this week to reboot.”

So I listen. I started the morning with a warm bowl of oatmeal and dinner is brewing in the crockpot as we speak. And this morning I did restorative yoga. In fact, it was “Yoga for Headaches” since I did wake up with a headache today. Can you get hangover from too much sugar? If so, I can officially say I have a sugar hangover. And it may be worse than an alcohol hangover. Seriously! But, the yoga sesh helped BIG TIME and I am almost sugar hangover headache free.

Secondly, I am so overwhelmed with work right now. What is up with the loads of work this time of year?! Actually, I know.. I just don’t want to admit it. I work for a benefits type of company so many of our clients start new programs January 1st. So, that means December is the catch up, prepare, plan, and get everything done month. EEK! I love the holiday season and want to savor every bit of it, but some days I can’t help but wish for the weekend.

The bright side is that the “busy”ness should just be another week or so (I keep telling myself). And I WILL do my holiday fun things like look at Christmas lights, listen to Christmas music, watch a few favorite movies, see some type of Christmas show (like a musical or play), see snow, and give lots of love and time to family and friends. Oh I really do love this time of year!

Third up is a question… need your opinion. I am obsessed with workout DVD’s and noticed that Shaun T just came out with Insanity Max 30. Do I get it now or do I wait? I have been doing Piyo lately and love it, but want need a little more cardio in my life too (you know, for the endorphins) so am looking to change up my workout routine a bit. I have been spending a lot (haven’t we all) so am trying to decide if I buy it for myself now.. it’s $119.85 or if I wait until after the new year. What would you do?

Thank you for letting me ramble today! Have a wonderful Monday, dear friends. 

My Current Triple Threat

Triple Threat

What movement is YOUR movement? Or let me rephrase.. what MOVES you? What activities currently encourage you to move those cute little feet of yours? I currently have three and consider them my triple threat.

We will get to my triple threat in a second, but first let me tell you why knowing your answers to the questions above is important…

  1. Just like we have four seasons of the year, we can have seasons of activities. Or simply put, you may not ALWAYS enjoy the same activity year-round.
  2. Doing the same workout day in and day out is not only ineffective, but BORING. Yawnnnnnn.
  3. Knowing what moves you will keep you moving. It is THAT simple. You CAN get to the point where you are looking forward to movement most days.

My current triple threat happens to be… Yoga, PIYO, and walking outside. That last one may change quicker than the other two as the temperatures start to fall lower and lower. This lady loves being WARM! But, as it stands currently, I love to start the morning with a little yoga (even 10-20 minutes can have huge benefits if done regularly). It gets me in the right frame of mind to have a kick-ass day. And that, I like… and will always welcome. Second, I tend to do a PIYO workout over my lunch break, in the evening, or right after yoga if I have time. I am flexible with this one. Third, walking happens whenever I need a break. I love getting outside so will often take a 20 minute break during the workday to get outside or walk a little longer after work before dinner.

What I love about my triple threat (and will keep in mind when I switch some things up for a new triple threat in the future) is that I incorporate all 3 important components of fitness. 1) Cardiovascular exercise, 2) Strength, and 3) Flexibility. All 3 are so important and we often skip out on one or two. When choosing your workouts, keep those components in mind.

I love varying my workouts. I tend to change things up a bit at least every quarter, but sometimes more often. I keep my body guessing and this can be a beautiful thing. The body does not need to get used to your workout. But, it should love the movement you are gifting it regularly!

So now tell me, do you have your own version of a triple threat? Do you know what MOVES you?

My Top Healthy Living Tools

The Fit Dish link ups on Tuesday are quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I link up with The Fit Switch and The Fit Pepper every Tuesday for a fun fitness topic. Today’s topic is healthy living tools. I will share with you some of my top tools…

But first, ARE YOU READY?!?!? (to be said like this guy…)

My top tools, in no particular order, include:

  1. Fitbit Flex. I used to have a Fitbit zip and raved about that before, but I have recently upgraded to the flex and love it. It helps me stay active throughout the day. I have a desk job so it is essential that I move throughout the day even if I had a morning workout. I love the app that comes with it as well. I can add friends and we can compete if we want. I can also track my sleep. I don’t use the nutrition part of it, but you can track your food intake if you want.
  2. Favorite fitness DVDs. It is important to have a library of 3-5 fitness DVDs that you just love. There are plenty of days that I do not want to go anywhere to get my workout on. I love being able to get a good workout in at home. My DVDs of choice are Insanity, PiYo, and TurboFire.
  3. Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. I love yoga, but do not live too close to a yoga studio. I have fallen in love with the youtube series, Yoga with Adriene. She is a phenomenal yoga teacher and if I teach yoga someday, I hope that I do it with as much love, grace, and authenticity as Adriene does. Oh and the healthy humor she has is great too. Love it!
  4. Tone It Up on YouTube. I clearly like to mix up my workouts. When I need a quick workout, I will sometime tune in to a Tone It Up workout on YouTube. My favorite is the Love your body with HIIT.
  5. Keeping nutrition essentials on hand. So the top 4 tools are for fitness, but nutrition is just as important. I keep my kitchen stocked with essentials. I always have fresh fruit and vegetables in my fridge that are easy to grab. I love apples and carrots for that reason. One of the previous Fit Dish topics was about healthy foods I wouldn’t want to live without. I listed 10 of my favorite essentials!
  6. Awesome smelling candles or essential oils. These help me with stress management. I love a good scent and quite frankly, I believe in the power of aromatherapy! I am still learning about essential oils, but currently love the smell of Eucalyptus.

Those are my current top tools. I know I am probably forgetting something, but 6 ain’t bad. What about you? What is your top healthy living tool?

The-Fit-Dish-Link-Up-dishthefit-1024x1024

Movement… you’ll never regret it!

Empower Day 18

It is day 18 of my 30 Days of Yoga Empower challenge through Yoga with Adriene. Instead of simply providing an update of how I am doing thus far (but I AM doing fantastic, thanks for asking!), I am devoting this post to movement.

Movement… as in another word for physical activity or exercise that sounds less intimidating.

One thing I have learned about myself over the years is that to get and stay healthy, I have to develop habits over time. Good habits. I like to think other humans work the same. So, perhaps you have found that developing habits over time works for you too (as opposed to the “change everything all at once and then give up in defeat after 4 days” mentality).

Yoga is movement. But so is running, walking, Crossfit, PiYo, Pure Barre, Insanity, Zumba, dance, tennis, and so on. When I truly listen to my body and what it needs, often I am drawn to a certain form of movement that day. Now, I developed this habit over time. When I first started getting active and formally “working out”,  I just had to get into some sort of routine first. And to be honest, I actually loved elliptical machines. I despise them now. But, they helped me develop the regular habit of movement.

Movement is active medicine for your body. It can be free (or relatively inexpensive even if you pay for a gym membership) and really does provide you with more energy and gets those “feel good” hormones activated. Movement is simply something that you’ll never regret! Find different forms of movement that work for you. That you can find delight in, even if it is just a tad bit of it.. come on, you know that doing punches in a kickboxing class makes you feel like you just beat up your old micromanaging boss! 😉

So how does this post on movement even relate to me doing more yoga? Well, yoga helps me be more mindful. And that is a habit I am currently developing. I am working on finding what feels good and using my mind/body connection as a guide. It’s okay if I don’t want to run a marathon today (or ever, really) and it’s also okay if I planned to do yoga, but chose to go for a walk instead. Movement of any kind can provide mind, body, and spiritual benefits.. if you allow it.

With that, I wish you more days of movement! What’s your FAVORITE way to move?

 

Empower Day 10

Empower Day 10

10 is such a powerful number. It kicks off the two digits.

And to be honest, once I wrote the word powerful to describe the number 10, I got curious and decided to look up the number 10. According to this numerology expert I found on google (not saying he is right or wrong, because hell if I know), the number 10 is associated with peace, harmony, leadership, optimism, confidence, independence, creativity, originality, and adaptability, among a few others.

How cool. Whether it’s true or not, on this very 10th day of Empower I do feel a lot of those energies. I feel more confident in myself. I feel at peace with where I am at, where I’ve been, and where I will go. I feel optimistic and creative. In fact, I was doing yoga this morning before work and had a huge “smile” moment where I genuinely felt happy. I took in the realization that true joy comes from each step, each day, and appreciating that moment you are in.

What I love about yoga is that it brings forth mindfulness. Yoga does not force you to become something you are not, nor does it really change you. It just allows you to reconnect and check in with yourself. It can bring forth emotions, absolutely. It can allow you to see something you want to change. It can also allow you to see the little things that make you who you are and what makes you happy. That’s where the confidence boost comes in.

Life is not all candy and roses. We know that. It’s important to have tools in your tool belt that work for those hard days. Tools that can reconnect you with who you are, where you are, and the knowledge that you will be okay. Yoga is a tool for me. It’s one of many tools for me. And Empower is helping me see that.

With that, I hope you all have tools that work for you when the going gets rough. Namaste, friends!

Empower Day 3

Empower day 3

 It was day 3 of Empower today. I did my yoga sesh first thing in the morning. In order to get the “full experience,” I set an intention before each practice. Not only because Adriene tells me to, but also because I like it. I am digging it. It gives purpose to little things throughout the rest of my day.

So with that, today’s intention was “Listen.” I know, it’s simple. But sometimes the simplest things bring the biggest joy in life. And today was no different. I did the following…

  • Listened to the rain as I went through my 45 minutes of yoga. It was peaceful.
  • Listened to my cat as she purred while attempting to do a few yoga poses with me (including one of her favorites in the pic above- corpse pose). It was entertaining.
  • Listened to my breath as I moved through each pose. It was calming.
  • Listened to my body as it told me to back down a bit or go a little deeper into a pose. It was reflective.

The above was during my yoga, but I also kept listening throughout the rest of my day. I had a deep desire later in the day to go for a quick 30-minute run. Why would I ever want to run, you ask? Good question. I don’t always want to run, but I do love running when I get the urge to, especially post-rain. I love taking in the fragrance of fresh rainwater. I love the break from 100 degree weather in Texas. I love connecting spiritually with nature and God. And I do love the way I feel after a good dose of cardio. Blame it on the endorphins!

I had a day where nothing was officially planned (except for my job, of course) and I literally got to check in with myself and listen to what I really wanted or needed right then and there. I want more days like today. I get it that it is not always possible to be spontaneous, but heck, we sure need to enjoy it when we do get to be. There are joys in the busy and there are joys in the calm. We just have to appreciate those joys. And often it is about finding purpose in what you are doing in the moment.

Here’s to being more in the moment. Namaste, friends!