2016 Give Me Your Magic

Being that it’s the New Year, I’ve done my fair share of reflecting on the past year and looking towards the future year. As I’ve been thinking about where I am, been and where I want to go, two words that keep coming up for me are adventure and magic.

I’ve realized they are each in their own way, core, guiding values for me. That is, it’s important for me to live life in a way that puts these values as a priority.

For me I practice adventure and magic in these ways:

TRAVEL: To see the world is an important way that I experience the world — to be humbled, to be charmed, to have my horizons broadened both literally and figuratively, to try new things, to meet new people — this is the ultimate adventure in my book, which so often leads to **magic**.

TALK TO STRANGERS: Talking to people when I’m out and about — you find out the most amazing things about people don’t you? I’m not perfect with this, but I try. And being that I’m a natural introvert, for me, trying is part of the way I have an adventure.

TRY NEW FOODS & THINGS: This is something I naturally do and want to do. I will try weird things on a menu, I will try combinations in my kitchen, even if they sound weird to others, if I’m intrigued, I go for it. One example:  brown rice noodles + lemon juice + 1 canof Italian tuna in olive oil drained + mayo + salt + parsley. Now, this isn’t the weirdest combo:  it has it’s roots in Italian cooking, for sure. But you have to admit it’s a little weird — but I made it one evening out of desperation and I love it. It was a magical little culinary adventure! And now it’s one of my favorite go-to dishes on a busy night when I want something relatively healthy and easy-peasy.

Auntie Mame

TRY NEW MOVEMENT: I try new exercises all the time. Just ask my clients that are like “UGH, what’s this new one she’s having us do today?!”. I like to move my kettlbells and weights in new ways, move my body in new ways. It’s exciting to see what it can do! And this upcoming weekend I am going to try snow-shoeing! Wee! To me, new movement, it’s always an adventure. Even if it means falling on my butt. Which I am sure I will do this weekend.

LAUGH: To me, this is a kind of everyday magic. The kind of magic that you can experience anywhere, anytime. No matter how small, how big, it’s special and worth noting in my opinion.

LOVE. Sometimes it’s easy to go along in life and just ho-hum along, but when you stop to realize how much love is in your life, how many people care for you and will help you out? That is a kind of magic that I never want to end.

Why is this relevant? Well, I think it’s hard to feel magic and to be adventurous when you’re not feeling healthy. It’s hard to run, it’s hard to breathe, it’s hard to feel the kind of peace that allows you to feel magic or try new things, when things are weighing you down (both physically and metaphorically).

I have never been healthier in my life or happier than I have been in the last few years. And I can safely say that I’ve had way more adventures and felt an extraordinary amount of magic, too. It’s hard to not see them as intrinsically connected.

I believe that magic is mostly a state of mind, though. It means you are able to see the world through a positive lens. You’re able to see what’s special about people. You’re able to see the little things in life that make this journey that much more special.

So, are you with me? Let’s make 2016 a year of magic and adventure!

 

 

Mindful March: Your Challenge Begins Here.

It’s March! What does March mean to you? For me, it’s the start of spring. And while in California we have a very loose definition of seasons, I yearn for this time of year when the days start to get longer and I’m not teaching BCSF in the dark. Waking up to the sun, rather the dark is a powerful, positive omen for my days.

March can be a ho-hum month. Short of St. Patrick’s Day, there are no holidays. No 3-day weekends, perhaps if you’re in school your Spring Break falls this month. But otherwise, it’s an intermediary to get from winter to summer, right?

It’s also the time that most of us have fully given up and forgotten about our New Year’s resolutions, which to me makes it a great time to re-jigger things in our life. To take a little time to get a little more mindful.

Mindfulness to me is a slowing down. It’s taking time to become aware of things. And in becoming more mindful we allow ourselves to get to know ourselves a bit better. We connect more. We slow down and the path becomes clearer. We are more confident in who we are and the choices that we make everyday.  Being more mindful has allowed me to become clearer with my goals both professionally and personally. I’ve taken the approach to my own fitness and have gone further than I thought was possible — because I slowed down, I’ve lifted heavier things in ways than I didn’t think I could. It’s allowed me to post more authentic and truthful things on this blog.

 

Mindfulness is about small actions that lead to something greater. Throughout March I’m going to post one action each weekday on my Facebook and Instagram pages that you can do to become more mindful. Most of these will take less than 10 minutes and many are things you can do in the midst of your workday, commutes, etc. It’s designed to make you slow down and connect with what you are doing. We all go through the motions of everyday life. It happens and no one can be mindful but 100% of the time. But let’s slow down and see what will happen if you take small actions every day for a month. What could change in your life? The possibilities are limitless, truly.

I hope you’ll follow along and take part! #mindfulMarch begins today. Watch for the first #dailyaction this morning!

Feel Your Power: Go Climb That Mountain.

Hillway Avenue is a little street near the UCSF Parnassus campus. It’s a relatively steep hill, based on other streets I would guess it’s grade percentage is in the high teens, maybe low 20s. And it’s the first place that I realized one thing:  I was kind of a badass at sprinting hills.

Our BCSF classes meet in the corner of Golden Gate Park close to UCSF, thus close to Hillway Ave. It has long been a favorite of our trainers to take members to this prime spot on hill days. I can’t tell you much about the day that I realized this was something I *liked* except that it was probably the Spring of 2007, that I remember dodging a few doctors on their way to work and that all I had on my mind was beating my classmates up that damn hill.

Hillwayave

I am not viciously competitive by any means, but I like to win when I feel it’s in my grasp — don’t we all? I’m more of a sprinter than a long-distance runner in terms of my athletic talents. That is to say, I can go hard for a short period of time. And there is nothing that makes you feel more accomplished at 7:30 in the morning that knowing that you’ve conquered a steep hill multiple times.

Hill repeats are one of those beautiful in their simplicity type of workouts as it requires only you, your running shoes and finding a perfect hill. In my neck of the woods this last part is easy-peasy.

The physiological benefits of running hills are impressive:  as long as you’re pushing hard, you’re contributing to a better EPOC — so, it’s a great fat-burning tool, they promote muscular strength and endurance and they also can increase your VO2 max, meaning your cardiovascular system is improving.

And yes, running hills is hard. But that is exactly one thing I love about it. It’s a huge challenge and yet, I can do it. There is an end in sight – I can see the crest and know that I can make it that far.  The first time I ran up Hillway Ave. and beat someone else? It was one of the first times I realized that I can do this. I can be athletic. I have talent. I am kind of a badass. It made me feel powerful in a way that I had not ever felt before.

I would love for you to have that same feeling. To feel powerful. To reap the physiological benefits of this type of workout. So for you willing participants, I have a workout for you to try. It’s simple. If you’re a beginner, you’re going to run shorter sprints.

A few things to keep in mind when running hills:

1. Going downhill is hard on your body as it generates more force on joints, muscles, etc. To combat that, you will either walk down the hill for recovery, or if you run I want you to either go backwards (yes!), or traverse down the hill like you are skiing a slalom, side to side.

2. Warming up your feet and calves are super important on a hill day. Below the workout, you’ll find a video where I give you a run down of things to do to warm-up your lower leg region.

climb that mountain workout

The Importance of Flexibility: Food Choices

There is a popular fitness meme that is often brought up in terms of nutrition:  “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, which I believe is drawn from a popular Benjamin Franklin quote:

I must have first heard this concept back in 2007 or 2008 at the beginning of my BootCamp career and I loved it. It resonated with me and made so much sense:  knowing in advance what you’ll eat is an amazing way to lose weight or to simply eat healthier. It takes the stress off of the everyday because you don’t think, you just pull out the food you prepped on Sunday and eat that. The weeks I planned my meals and prepped food in advance, I ate better, hands down. Keep it simple, right?

Of course maintaining that degree of meticulousness when it comes to food is a challenge for a lot of reasons that I won’t go into now. As such, I can only think of a few distinct periods of time over the last 7 years that I was able to do it religiously. They didn’t last long, but they yielded positive results in terms of weight loss, body fat reduction and general well-being. It works. It just isn’t very sustainable for the long-term.

Continue reading “The Importance of Flexibility: Food Choices”

A Few of my Favorites Things! 1st Edition

It’s officially s-u-m-m-e-r and there are a lot of little things that I wanted to share with y’all, so we’re doing it compilation style instead of parsing it out niblet by niblet.

1. Kettle Guards.

kettleguards

I’m starting my path to the StrongFirst Certification, which means lots and lots of Turkish Get-ups and Kettle bell snatches…hard on the wrists, but much less so with a little cushion, for a little less pushin’.

2. Summer Fruit.

summerfruit

Watermelon, fresh, local strawberries, nectarines, peaches…um, yes please! I can’t get enough. Expect more fruit porn shots all summer long on my Instagram n’ Facebook.

3. Get Sh*% Done mug.

gsdmug

I needed a new mug and who can’t use a little extra kick in the motivation pants with their morning coffee? I know I can! I’m enjoying the mug so much that I keep washing it every morning just so I can use it again. I think my other mugs are going to get lonely.

4. Argus app.
argus

A few weeks back I put my beloved Fitbit through the washing machine. It worked for a day…then it went on the fritz 100%. I was sad to lose it, but didn’t replace it since I don’t need it. While it’s great for providing motivation, I do already, um workout quite a bit. So while it was a nice thing to have, it would be a wasteful for me to buy another. About a week ago, though, I found out about this Argus app, which also tracks your steps! It also allows you to track a bunch of other stuff, like your workouts (duh), water consumption and you can also take pics of your meals (fun, but beware if you are someone that struggles with any sort of eating disorder past or present).

A few other drawbacks are that you have to take your phone with you all the time to get an accurate reading of your steps…which, lets be honest, we do anyway, but sometimes it’s nice to leave the ol’ ball and chain behind. And I also don’t believe it’s available on most phones/platforms…believe it’s just iPhone 5 for now (but don’t quote me on that).

5. Anderson Valley Holy Gose Ale.

goseale

Beer on a fitness blog? Waaaat? Yup, hello and welcome to my world:  I’m a craft beer lover. Many ladies love the wine, I love the high quality beers. Mostly, though, I’m into IPAs, which are higher in alcohol content — it’s seems to be trendy to get as high as possible. So, I just can’t enjoy them as often as I might like. Which is fine, too much alcohol consumption can get in the way of fitness goals…and well, a healthy life in general. Unfortunately, my taste buds think that most lighter beers pretty much taste like, well…crap (think Bud Light). But, this Gose? It’s 4.2% alcohol content! Yay! And it tastes good, it’s a bit tart, citrusy and light. So, it’s much easier to allow this beer as a treat on a random evening. Oh…and? Less alcohol content also means less calories. Lots of win, here.

6. Whole Foods maximum moisture lotion.

wholefoodslotion

So, this is how my hands look from so much kettlebell work this week:

calluses

Not real pretty, right? Well, part of callus management is keeping the hands well hydrated and moisturized. I randomly picked up this lotion this week and was super surprised at how awesome it was. Guessing part of that is the macadamia oil and shea butter. Whatever it is, at $3.99 a pop, I’m pretty sure this will be a staple in my world all summer long.

And…that’s a wrap folks! Favorites list, complete.