Category Archives: strength

lifting with love

I started a new exercise program this week. At least once a week, for an indefinite period of time I am doing personal training. It was under my own volition to change things up from the routine of hiking, walking, yoga. It was also an act of self-care.

 

Because of my recent lyme diagnosis, I’m not supposed to be doing long endurance training like running, cycling, or even super long hikes. (So I hike with breaks.) But movement is paramount to my joy.

 

Movement, in nearly all forms, is my soul’s dance. I learn to be patient and understanding with my body, so that I can be patient and understanding with all parts of myself.

 

So when I started training this week with Luc at Sherpa we kept it short to 30 minutes. Perfect so as not to overexert myself.

 

I felt so good carving out this time just for me. It felt good being under the guidance of someone else. It felt good moving my body in different ways. I noticed where I’m weak and I noticed where I’m really strong.

 

I noticed that nearly every single time in my life that I’ve picked up a weight or walked into a gym it was to change or fix the way that I looked. And I noticed that this time, that just wasn’t the case.

 

It wasn’t about fixing my body. It was about expanding my movement horizons and stepping outside my safe movement boundaries. It was about laughing and learning and loving. It was about ultimate self-care; staying strong while I’m also making ample time to rest and recover from the lyme.

 

My arms, I noticed in the mirror, have so little tone to them right now. This used to send me into a tailspin of negative self-talk and self-hate. But this time, as we were doing some kind of weight lifting thingy, I looked at my untoned arms with love. Like, dammit, they’ve been through some shit and they’re still here! Lifting heavy things!

 

It felt really good to exercise and move this way. It felt freeing. It felt joyful. I saw my shapes in the mirror and embraced them. I felt strong in my soft body suit.

 

I know that not every day will feel like this. But it’s exhilarating to know that this is possible.

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Trusting My Body Bouldering

I went bouldering last night at Rock Climb Fairfield – putting my Bowspring form to the test. I tackled the first climb thinking oh man I’ve so got this, I’m gonna fly right up that wall. Only to make it past maybe the 3rd hold before falling onto the crash pad.

We spent well over an hour at the gym and each time I approached the wall I realized it wasn’t about tackling the wall head on, full throttle – it was about slowing down, calming down, and – dare I say – NOT trying so hard.

When I reminded myself not to try so hard, my body started working more efficiently. Miracles didn’t happen, I did not skyrocket to the top, I was humbled each time I attempted the easiest climbs as I maybe only made it to the top twice. I noticed though that I was able to use my body to my advantage as I shifted my feet and my hips from side to side, tapping into the power in my legs rather than gripping for dear life.

You don’t have to try so hard, I kept reminding myself. Each time I gave myself permission to do that, I made small gains and started to get more of an understanding of how this bouldering stuff works.

I have gone climbing (indoors and ONCE outdoor!) a handful of times and confronted my fears of heights, falling, and failing. It was not until yesterday that I started to see how I could work WITH my body rather than against it. I could work WITH the wall rather than fight it.

I wasn’t just reaching with my arms but with the power in my legs and the desire in my heart to not get down on myself for falling but instead to just keep going. Even when I fell, I did not get discouraged: instead I rested, recovered, and hopped back up to try the next climb. And when I tried again I moved slowly, calmly, efficiently, and trusted my body.

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Trusting in the Process of Change

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Limber Pine in Bryce Canyon National Park

First thing this morning I read a blog entry posted by my friend and client. It was on change. It didn’t take but a moment for me to feel like he was talking directly to me as I started to read:

“Change, for me, comes during times of struggle.  I’ve never made a significant change when I’m warm and comfy…..ever.”

I read these two sentences over and over again and I got chills. This really must be the universe reminding me that as I am going through a challenging time, I must trust that staying present in this discomfort will result in something greater.

There is a quote (who can tell me who it’s by?) that goes:

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Well, here I am at 31 slowly building my dream life and career, while being confronted by the financial challenges (and sometimes grim realities) of a freelancer/independent contractor. By the instability of a schedule that is in constant flux with ebbs and flows, gains and losses. I am constantly reminded of impermanence and that nothing is guaranteed. And then I notice how do I deal with the reality of impermanence? How do I approach it with love, grace, and compassion?

I approach these challenges with love, grace, and compassion by keeping the faith and by trusting.

I have Faith that when it feels like everything is crumbling and dissolving, there will be an equal amount of rebuilding and resolving. And that when I do eventually get to the other side I will have a laugh at how discouraged I once felt.

I Trust that it’s ok to ask for help. I trust that when I ask for help people won’t run away and that it’s ok to cry when I feel like my small little world is falling to smithereens. I Trust in the support of a loving community of heart-driven people. I Trust in myself that “I can do this” and that “I have my own back” as does the universe and said community.

When I visited Bryce Canyon National Park last weekend there was a beautiful tree as we neared the end of our hike: the Limber Pine. You can tell by it’s exposed sprawling roots, unprotected by earth, that this tree has been through hell and back again. And then I read about the tree, about how they are resilient and can grow on the edge of cliffs, exposed to erosion and the elements, but deeply connected by their strong tangle of roots.

I resolved then and there that as I go through the challenges I am currently faced with, I want to be resilient like the Limber Pine that surely goes through struggles but allows it’s branches to bend and sway so that it can then stand upright and elegant time and time again.

My friend was right, I can’t think of a time that I’ve taken great strides when I’ve been all warm and comfy. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I love more than being warm and comfy. Except maybe welcoming the opportunity for change.

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Creating an At Home Yoga Practice

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If you’ve ever found the idea of an at home yoga practice absolutely outlandish, I may have some ideas to help this seem a tad more approachable. Yoga is not just about fancy outfits, standing on your head, or even about being able to touch your toes. While all these things are very fun, yoga is more so about stepping into your yoga space, unplugging for whatever dedicated time you have set for yourself, and being present. So with that in mind, let us begin:

 

1. Find your yoga space. Any space where you feel comfortable will work. This can be: your bedroom, office, basement, living room… you get the picture.

 

2. Select 3-5 basic poses … and JUST DO THOSE POSES. Really, just start with 3-5 poses and then build on them if time allows. Give yourself a break and make this easy. These can be poses you already know or you can use YogaJournal which provides a wonderful reference: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/finder/browse_categories. I am also available to chat via email to help you build your personalized at home practice.

 

3. Breathe. Whether it is uncomfortable or it feels fantastic, try to breathe as you do each pose. The more you do this, the easier it becomes and this is just one of those things with yoga (and with many things in life) that it does require practice, practice, practice. While you may see small shifts and changes, the big changes do not occur overnight… as much as I sometimes wish they would! I promise, the end results of long-term dedication will be well worth it.

 

4. Set a timer for 5, 10, 15 minutes and commit to practicing for that amount of time. I would bet money that the timer will go off and you will be ready to keep going with your practice.

 

As you embark on your at home yoga practice I leave you with one final tip, especially as we weave our way through the stresses of the holiday season: Imagine that you could take each and every thing that is causing you stress and put it in a box. Close that box, set it aside, and don’t open it up again until after your yoga practice. While your problems may not go away, this just might allow for a subtle shift in perspective. 

Yoga at Home

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Simply Strength

I’m not a huge fan of working out at the gym. I would rather jump on my bike or go for a run in the park. Even in extreme weather conditions. Any chance I get, I would rather be outside.

That said, I know my body benefits greatly when I incorporate regular strength training into the routine. #snore. I know, it bores me to think of walking into my gym, awkwardly finagling free weights and bands and equipment and then leaving after 45 minutes feeling like I got absolutely nothing accomplished.

Thankfully, I have some folks in my life who are less awkward when thrown into a gym or weight-lifting environment. Take the trainers at Sherpa for example who provided this strength routine for me. It was a totally different feeling walking into my gym with a PLAN. I completed it this morning in 35 minutes, with just enough time for some stretching and foam rolling. I know my running, cycling, and nagging hip injuries will thank me for this. Now to make sure I keep up with it on a regular basis…

Here is my strength routine from this morning. If you don’t know what something is, ask me or you can reach out to Sherpa. I have provided videos which are also regularly updated on Sherpa’s Facebook page.

  • Always start with a warm-up … like this! 
  • Split Lunge (8-10 each leg)
  • Row (heavy weight – 10 to 15 reps)
  • Lateral stepping with elastic band (20 reps each leg)
  • Scaption (10-15 reps)
  • Bridging (elevate feet on box or bench – 15 reps with 2 sec hold)
  • Push-ups (I aimed for 15)
  • 3 core exercises of your choice (I chose side plank with leg lifts, forearms on a medicine ball moving the arms in and out, and navasana or boat pose)
Repeat all exercises 2-3 times.