Hello readers,

It’s been a minute!  So last week I got really really sick.  High fevers and everything.  That put a wrench into my challenge, and forced me to do a few days of child’s pose and meditation (ok naps.  the meditation was naps).  I’m back on the wagon now!

Day 12,13, and 14:

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Time: 30 minutes

Review:  I have done this three days in a row now.  The first and second day I did one circuit, today I did two.  I repeated this partly because it was pretty killer and I felt bad about missing some days.  I also repeated it because grad school has started, reading, work, and classes have taken over my life, and it actually does take time to find workouts that use no props on Pinterest!  I don’t have a jumprope, so instead of jump roping I just jumped.  I could probably buy a jump rope though. They probably have them at the dollar store.

Busily yours,

C

Workout: 

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Time: It really was the length of one commercial break.

Review:  If you want to really get something out of this workout, do one circuit for every commercial break (especially difficult if your show is, for example, something like The Bachelor).

Speedily yours,

C

Arms:

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Time: About ten minutes, or two and a half Dada Life tracks.

Review:  I have weak arms.  This hurt.  Half way through I went to my knees, and for the last ten I moved to a table top and did them at an incline.  I seriously need to work on my push up power!  For the purpose of this challenge, I really wanted to limit myself to exercises that required no props (weights, yoga mats, stretch bands, etc.) but I found it pretty difficult to find an upper body workout that did not require some kind of weights.  This push up one is simple, though, and really great.  It definitely targets the whole upper arms and trap.  Add a plank for your core and I think we have a winner.

Abs: 

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Time: I had enough time to do this before I got in the shower to get ready for work.  During this time I would normally be pressing snooze two times on my alarm clock.

Review:  Not being someone who knows a lot about crunches, I’m not sure I got the form right on some of these.  If I were to do this again, I would probably want to do some googling on proper crunch technique.  Other than that, It didn’t seem like too hard of a pill to swallow.

Going through these work outs that target muscle strength and that don’t have much of a cardio element to them makes me realize how much I enjoy getting my heart rate up. Without the cardio, the endorphins don’t really get there.  It makes these work outs a little boring.

Yoga:

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Time: Yep.  8 minutes.

Review: Being my first week back working in preschool for the year, my back is already starting to ache from being hunched down with those little three year olds all day.  This workout was quick, and helped me chill out after week one of preschool boot camp.  I put on some chill out tunes (yep, spottily “Love Life. Love Yoga” genre), got out my mat, and went through these poses.  I added some chatarangas at the end and a few warrior ones, and it was really nice.  My back felt better too!

This week I plan on making sure to get that cardio in!

Sorely yours,

C

Pinterest workout  of the day:

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Pinned from: Fit Sugar

Time: half of an episode of The Killing

Review:  This was a killer.  The first circuit was so easy, but about two minutes into the second circuit my legs were burning! The last plank was a doozy.  This is a super easy workout to do while watching T.V. and I memorized the sequence after the first run so I didn’t have to keep checking the web page.  I will say that using a timer and being aware of every second passing can make a minute feel like a very long time.

Not a bad sweat for 25 minutes of work!

Weak kneed-ly yours,

C

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Work out from: Skinny Ms

It’s been a while since I’ve done a 30-day challenge, and I’ll be honest:  it was a little difficult getting myself out of my rut and into the “challenge mind set” so to speak.  I have to keep reminding myself a challenge is called a challenge for a reason.  Having said that,  this was so quick, and so easy to do.  I did the intermediate version (two circuits) but I really should have done three.  I definitely don’t consider myself to be in an advanced stage of physical fitness, so I was trying to be honest in my choice of which category to choose.

Even that 15 minutes or so of exercise made me feel great, though.  It is sometimes difficult to get out of the perfectionist zone of criticism and remind yourself that you don’t have to do a strenuous work out or nothing at all.  There is a huge spectrum of levels of activity, and let’s be serious, anything at all is better than nothing… right?

Moderately yours,

C

The long summer days of drinking on boats in the sunshine are slowing down, September is coming, and I’m left feeling a bit out of shape. Lately I’ve been wanting to get my body moving, and work on some
Cardio and strength training routines.

This morning as I was browsing Pinterest, I stumbled upon a TON of pins that have 10-30 minute workout routines that you can easily do at home. While October is often a month of 30-day Bikram yoga challenges for me, with my last year of grad school looming, I’m not sure dedicating what adds up to often over 2 hours a day is realistic for me. But these, these bite size chunks of easy to understand cardio and strength building routines, I can do.

So my new challenge is the 30-day Pinterest workout challenge. Here we go.

That’s the question, right?  When do you stop feeling like you might die?  Some of you may remember this post from a whole ago.  It refers to one of the things Bikram reportedly tells his students when he is teaching.  “Just try to kill yourself, honey,” he says.  The point is to encourage them: work as hard as you can, push yourself until you can’t push yourself any further, take a deep breath, push a little more, and then emerge from your practice stronger for it.  

Feeling like you’re going to die is a huge part of the reason why the heat is important in Bikram yoga.  The mental practice of pushing past those barriers we all have is one of the reasons why yoga is important to me, and it’s one of the main ways that my yoga practice carries over into my life outside of the studio.   Every time you work through a class where you think you might die, you are learning to silence the voice inside of you telling you you’re not tough enough, or strong enough, or good enough.  Learning how to silence those voices, helps place you on a path towards being the confident, strong, inspiring person that you are.

So keep going to class, keep feeling like you might die.  Just try to kill yourself, honey!

Pep talk over.

C

As I sit here on the last day of my raw food challenge, bloated and besieged with heart burn, I can’t help but feel that this raw diet might not be for me.

If you are considering eating a raw food diet, I have the following pieces of advice for you:

1. Ease into it. Raw foods have significantly higher amounts of fiber, and can take more time and energy for your body to break down and digest. Changing your ratio of cooked to raw food gradually will help your body learn to absorb nutrients in a new way, and you’ll be much more comfortable for it.

I do tend to be an all or nothing type of gal, but this challenge could have been more tolerable had I been a bit more prepared, both physically and in other ways, which brings me to my next point.

2. Have both a blender/food processor and a dehydrator on the ready. Premade and packaged raw foods are crazy expensive, so if you plan to eat anything other than produce, and you don’t want to break the bank, you’re going to have to do a lot of creative cooking yourself.

There are a ton of wonderful blogs, with great recipes I would have liked to try, but having no dehydrator meant I would have to use my oven at a low temperature. That is totally fine, if it works for you, but I don’t live somewhere or have the time where I can have my oven on for 12 hours at a time. If you choose to use your oven, be prepared. As for a food processor, you can use it to make smoothies, raw soups, and nut milks, among other things. Almost everything that you buy at a store is pasteurized, and that means cooked. Be prepared to make everything from scratch.

3. Hang in there. It makes people uncomfortable when you go to a restaurant with them and don’t eat. It feels awkward bringing your own food everywhere. It made me feel left out and hungry watching my friends eat breakfast while I sipped on peppermint tea. Here’s the thing: couldn’t we all use a little more practice feeling uncomfortable? Couldn’t we all stand to benefit from bucking the norm for a while and standing our ground? What’s wrong with shaking it up every now and then? I will say that this challenge provided some great conversation this weekend.

I won’t be sticking with this challenge for any longer, but I have come away with some new information about myself. Homemade almond milk is amazing. It’s ok to go to a restaurant and not order, just make sure you eat first. I actually really love herbal tea, and it only takes 24 hours to detox from my caffeine habit. Raw “superfood cookies” make a delicious and healthy dessert. Hail Mary’s macaroons are even better. Avocados are good for heartburn, and kale is the most versatile veggie I’ve seen yet.

And with that, I think I’ll go feast on cooked food.

Scorchingly yours,

C

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Last week, my coworker’s suggestion that we try a cleanse this weekend inspired me to try something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now: try a raw food diet!

I originally became interested in raw food last year, when almost in the same week, I went to a restaurant that serves raw food, and I reunited with an old friend who had a girlfriend who ate a raw diet.  I reacted to it like “huh…. why would anyone want to do that?”  I still think it would be hard to exist in a world with hot bowls of soup on a cold day, or mashed potatoes.  period.  All of my comfort foods are hot or warm, and all of my comfort foods are definitely cooked.  Not to mention I LOVE to cook.  Is there anything better than seasoning a pasta sauce to perfection, leaning over the pot, and inhaling the salty, moist steam?

That being said, I definitely did some re-identifying of comfort foods when I became a vegan a couple years ago, and I’m sure given the right motivation, I could do it again.  For the purposes of this particular challenge, I will only be going raw for one weekend, that is one long weekend.  I started my challenge yesterday, and I will be completing the raw food challenge on monday evening.  My intention is to explore what makes a food comforting, how we interact with food in social situations, and how eating a raw diet makes my body and my brain feel.

Wish me luck!

rarely yours,

C

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When I started my challenge this spring, I was unsure of how it would feel.  I was afraid to start something I wouldn’t be able to finish, and I was worried that my horrible, consuming sadness from my last challenge would come back.  It didn’t.  My goal for the challenge was to release the negativity from my practice, and open myself up to joy.  

It was about finally letting go of something sad and hard and difficult, and letting myself continue on with a practice that could encompass happiness again. 

Having been done with my 30-day challenge for a few days now, I can honestly confirm that it was the easiest challenge I’ve ever done.  Throughout the month I felt more energized and alive than I’ve felt in a long time, and during many classes I felt like I was powered by pure exalted joy.  I was able to be so present in my happiness, and it was wonderful.  Truly wonderful and magical.

The first few weeks were mostly a breeze.  I had the usual foot dragging that I think everyone experiences when it’s time to get up on monday at 5:00 a.m., but once I was there, most of my classes were so marvelous.  I felt my body totally opening up to new depths of flexibility whereas I usually make more noteworthy gains in strength.  

I have always kind of thought that it takes a lot of courage to take your flexibility to new depths.  You have to be willing to push through the pain of your lengthening muscles and ligaments and tendons.  You have to trust yourself enough to know what bad pain is and what good pain is.  You have to literally open yourself up to completely new sensations; and you have to, at some point, just go for it.  There has to be an element of “fuck it” in there somewhere – otherwise you’ll never push yourself hard enough!  This is so appropriate for where I was mentally and emotionally in my challenge.  My gains in flexibility definitely reflect what my goals were, and that I got there.   

I love practicing close to the mirror now, because I can see the anchor on my arm, pushing me to be better, go deeper, stretch further, work harder, and be healthier.  It reminds me that the bad events in our lives never go away, but at some point they become a part of who you are, and they endure through the happiness too.  Just as part of who you are.  Simple truths, right?

Glowingly yours,

C

P.S.: For those of you who keep track: nope, I’m not doing the 60-day challenge because *someone* is taking me to Coachella.  I know – poor me, right? 

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