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

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

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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

Hi Yogis and others,

Yoga and writing to me have been inextricably linked from day one. Bikram’s teaches me so many things, and I get excited about them and feel like I need to share my insights. Blogging is my way to document my mental growth.

Yoga is most certainly a form of exercise (especially Bikram’s) but, what I’m sure is already abundantly clear to you all, is that yoga is also an exercise for the mind. Learning how to overcome pain, and push through drama and difficulty to attain success; to build up your sense of self efficacy, boosting your confidence and driving you to become mentally healthier. Yoga helps you practice being in the moment, not getting caught up in the transitive phenomena we are confronted with daily, and hourly. Yoga is an incredible workout for the brain. But I don’t have to tell you that.

Do you know who I have to tell that to? The teachers at Bikram Yoga Seattle in Fremont. I’m not linking to their page, I’m not trying to slander them. I know I have discussed before the reasons why I dislike that studio (and the reasons why some people might prefer it!), but that is where Kaleesha and I ended up doing our 30-day challenge. Just to recap: there was a groupon sale that got us an incredible deal on unlimited yoga for a month at the Fremont studio. I decided to go for it, even though I knew I hadn’t particularly liked that studio in the past, and that was a huge mistake. I didn’t particularly enjoy the classes there, I didn’t get that same incredible spirit lift there that I do going to the Sweat Box. I didn’t know why that was for a while, but I soon realized that it is because the Fremont studio completely ignores the mental aspect of the practice.

I will admit I did an awful job of documenting my most recent 30-day challenge, but it’s because a massive part of my practice was missing. I didn’t have anything to say, because my landscape of epiphanies was stark. My hopes for that strength of mind, and greater wisdom that comes with a challenge like that were sadly unfulfilled.

Right after I finished my month at Bikram Yoga Seattle, I went directly to the Sweat Box and began taking classes there. I finished my challenge at the sweat box in October, and since then I have been attending classes at the sweat box about 3-4 times a week. I feel so grounded, and so comfortable in my own body right now, and I am definitely in better shape than I was in over the summer. Most importantly, despite the fact that I have been working in a preschool, my back is in wonderful shape (that’ll be a topic for another post!).

I am so happy to report that unlike my 30-day challenge three years ago, I have been able to continue to work my yoga into my life post-challenge.

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful holiday, filled with friends and family and love.

Namaste!

-C

Hi Readers,

I did something a little different today.  

As some of you may know, I haven’t snow boarded in a long time.  A long time as in about 5 years.  In fact, last time I was on a board I was in high school and I broke my wrist and hurt my back, and I have been uncharacteristically terrified to go back ever since. Today, when my parents left for their instructor training clinic (I happen to be part of a family of snow-sport instructors!), I thought to myself, f**** it.  I’m going too. Of course when I got to the mountain I realized I couldn’t even remember how to lace my boots right, much less consider riding down the hill, so I swallowed my pride and decided to take a private lesson, and my instructor was Zach Reifert from the Summit Learning Center at Snoqualmie Pass. (Note: pretty sure that’s his last name! Great instructor, not so great handwriting)

Usually I just write about my challenges, but since I have been a terrible blogger this year, and since I don’t currently have a formal 30-day-challenge in the works, and since Zach was such a great instructor, I thought I’d write about my experience today.

I was apprehensive about signing up for a lesson. I always think those situations where you’re hanging out with someone who is being paid to be nice to you tend to be awkward, but Zach wasn’t awkward, and more than that he was an excellent teacher. He has an almost scientific understanding of the physicality of snowboarding, and he’ll explain it to you, with his somehow humble seeming disclaimer: “let me know if this is getting too technical!”

I appreciated the fact that he seemed to understand where I was coming from, having had an injury, and he was the perfect balance of encouraging, and respectful of my limits. I have always said that what makes a a person a great teacher, is being able to read and respond to a student’s needs. That is definitely what makes Gary my favorite teacher at the Sweat Box, and it is what I strive to do as a teacher. Zach has that gift.

A good instructor is something valuable beyond measure, so when I find one, I obviously have to share the wealth! Hopefully some of you yogis also happen to like snow sports, and if that is so, I have to recommend Zach as my top pick for a private lesson. He’ll have you doing 180s on your first day!

-C

My 8k is coming up and I am nervous, plain and simple. I ran my first practice 8k last week, and it went horribly awry: my allergies acted up, my shins hurt like crazy, my clothing was uncomfortable, and I felt discouraged and let down. I kept thinking to myself I’ve been working at this for nearly 6 months, and 5 miles is still challenging. Why am I even doing this? I want to quit. I’m going to finish the last out of everyone and feel terrible about myself. But I finished my run (if you could call it that), and I felt like I knew my worst case scenario.

Feeling sorry for myself, unmotivated, and disappointed, I sauntered into my house to check out facebook (where better to seek comfort?) when low and behold, an update from Jamie: a picture with the caption “Nat on her 40th km today in the BMO.” Ok I’m sitting here feeling bad about running an 8k and Natalie is on her 40th km of her marathon? I am in awe of this woman. All my negativity instantly went away, and was replaced with inspiration and motivation. I could get there one day too! But how? Well, ladies and gentelman, without further ado, I present to you my Q and A with the amazing, inspirational, and very very fast, Natalie Chomin herself.


Claire: How did you start running and why do you love it so much?

Natalie: I started running in elementary school and realized I loved to race, so that’s when I decided to try Cross Country and Track. I competed until I graduated High School [and did] other sports at the same time. When my High School days of running were over, I found myself craving that racing experience and decided to do my first half marathon. I really enjoyed it, and decided to start racing in triathlon, which I did for the past 5 years along with running shorter races. Last year I decided to take it up a notch and sign up for a full marathon and the rest is history!

Running is a funny thing. Sometimes I wonder “why do I do this every single day?”….especially when I am losing toenails, chaffing, blistering, missing out on social events, watching my diet and alcohol consumption and giving up my days off so I can run, and recover from, my weekly long runs which got up to 35 kms. But that’s what I love the most about running–the challenge and the high I get from achieving my goals. Nothing is comparable for me, and many people wonder why, but it’s become my escape.

C: What was your very first race like? How far was it and How did you feel after?

N: My first race outside of High School was the Victoria Half Marathon. It was 21.1 km, and it was a bit of a letdown. I had trained extremely hard and enjoyed that aspect immensely, but race day was a thumbs down. The weather was terrible, and I went out too fast with the built up adrenaline and hit a wall around 15km. After, I was happy I finished and overall it was a good first race, but I learned a lot from it.

C: What is the last week before a marathon like? In the days before the BMO marathon, what did you do to prepare?

N: The last week of training before a marathon includes tapering. You hit your highest weekly mileage around 2-3 weeks before the race then all your runs get shorter and less intense. In the days before the race, I focused on making sure my diet was getting a lot of simple carbohydrate for immediate glycogen stores, getting a lot of sleep and mentally preparing. I was extremely nervous, barely able to think/talk about anything else.

C: What types of cross training do you incorporate into your workout routine?

N: I like to do yoga 1-2 time a week, as well as biking or hiking; in the summer I do the Grouse Grind as one of my cross training days. I also do a core circuit twice a week, as having a strong core really improves your running performance.

C: What is normal running pain like? Where do you feel it most when you run for long distances? Shorter distances?

N: Pain is one of the biggest topics in marathon training. I thought I knew what it was like to experience pain from running before marathon training….but I was wrong. In long runs, one of my biggest issues was chaffing. I would literally be bleeding in the shower from the rubbing of my heart rate monitor, sports bra and sometime shorts/long spandex. Long runs also bring on cramping in the calves, and hamstrings, not to mention lactic acid build up occurring in the upper body. Tempo and speed workouts were just painful because they were tough cardiovascular workouts and I would get some acute muscle soreness afterwards.

C: What gets you through the tough times? When you are training what motivates you? When you are actually racing what pushes you to go faster and keep moving?

N: I go through some tough runs and tough stretches of time while training, which all runners definitely experience. On one of my long runs I was seriously questioning my decision to run a marathon. Why am I doing this? Why do I go through all this pain? Will I be able to finish the race? Maybe I should just do a half…..but I always am motivated by the one fact that never changes, I love a challenge, and achieving that goal is one of the best feelings in the world. Hands down. In a race, the adrenaline and the pounding of footsteps by the other runners around me drive me forward–knowing that pain is temporary, and pride is forever. I had a cross country coach tell me “run until there is literally no gas left in the tank”. Lots of times I have to dig extremely deep to find that bit of energy, but it’s there, and sometimes you have to get through times like that mentally when physically, there is nothing left.

C: Any final words of advice or encouragement for newbies like me?

N: I love it when I hear that someone is picking up running. Having confidence is very important when beginning a new sport. You have to know that YOU can do it, and no one else can tell you otherwise. I never thought I’d do a marathon…it was just too long of a distance, I used to think. But when I realized that the only thing holding me back is myself, I went for it. I would suggest signing up for a 5k, or whatever distance you feel would be a challenge and start training. I love having a race in mind, it motivates my workouts every single day. And when I am finished that race, knowing I achieved something that I set out to do, is an amazing feeling!

Happy Running!

Thanks for the interview, Natalie! You are phenomenal and I can’t wait to hear about what you do next!

Happy training to all my readers, whether you are a runner, a yogi, a swimmer, or a bob sledder.

Motivationally yours,

C