Friday, June 1, 2018

Yoga Everyday: A One Month Journey


I've started to mindfully attempt to build routines in my life. This past year, I have been through a lot of really positive changes. However, there comes a point when even someone who enjoys change will need some sort of routine. One area that I have been focusing on is my physical routine.

There is something about yoga that is different than other physical exercises. Yoga is a workout for the mind and the body.  Yoga is a great way to balance the physical exertion from running. A common misconception is that yoga is not strenuous, when in fact it can be quite difficult.

I am an avid home-practice yogi. I found a yoga DVDs as a kid and since then I have been practicing yoga on and off, at home and in the group setting, since middle school. I tend to do a lot of YouTube yoga.

My home practice space includes my well-worn, frugal yoga mat and my iPad. 
Home practice essentials: All you really need is an area to practice. You don't actually need a yoga mat and you can even practice with a book that lists poses, but it's helpful to have a device to follow a yoga teacher.

I stumbled upon Yoga with Adriene a couple years ago. Adriene records absolutely free 30-day sequences along with other videos. I promise Adriene does not pay me to put in this plug for her YouTube channel nor does she even know who I am. Yet, I have been doing yoga with this goofy, fun-loving, Texas yoga teacher for a couple years now. O, the power of the internet!

Prior to my one-month yoga journey, I had completed 3 rounds of 30 days of yoga with Adriene prior to True, but each took me about 3 months to complete. I was practicing about 3-4 times per week. This time, I wanted to try to complete all 30 days within a month. I started the True sequence on May 1st.

The first couple weeks, I was on point. I got up each morning and completed my practice before heading off to work or starting my day. Then, I started to procrastinate. I would complete some sessions at 8pm. I am an early bird and I have learned that if I want to commit to doing something, I have to get it done first thing in the morning. In the morning, I am full of willpower. In the evening, I fight to stay awake until my 9pm bedtime.

Over halfway through, I did something that I've never been able to do-- I successfully nailed a chaturanga. A chaturanga is basically a slow push-up into a belly toward the ground backbend. Basically, hell for anyone with a lack of upper body strength. I had been doing half-ass chaturangas for years! Clearly, I was starting to build some sort of upper body strength.

On day 20, I did a half marathon. I still practiced yoga that day. Yes, I was still running during my one-month yoga journey. That's me doing my thing though. If you're thinking about trying a routine, I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone to do a routine that isn't true to their own thing. Anyways, on day 21, the day after the half marathon, I was spent. I did about 5 minutes of the video and decided that May has 31 so it would be okay to complete the yoga journey in 31 days instead of 30 days. Set goals, yet still be flexible-- which is a good lesson that I've also learned from practicing yoga.

On the last day of every 30-day sequence with Adriene, you have the opportunity to practice your own yoga routine. It's always a really fun day, but in the past 3 times that I had done it, I mostly watched the video and followed Adriene's movements. This time, I mostly did my own thing this time and looked at the video only to get ideas for poses I might enjoy. I feel like I'm getting more confident in my ability to choose yoga poses that feel right to my own body. Win!

I enjoyed doing a month of yoga. The physical benefits were great. I will probably do it again in the future, but I'm learning that commanding myself to do something every single day may not be the route that I'd like to take. I can benefit from routines, but I also want to learn to take it easy. Life is a journey, and I don't want to miss all the fun getting to the next checkpoint.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Friendships and Adulting

To the friends that I have kept in my 20's, thank you.

The twenty-something years seem to be a mess of trying to figure out how to adult. You are able to fully choose whether or not you'd like to go to school, start a career, start a family, where you'd like to live, how to allocate your time, and more. You start to learn who you are as a person beyond your family's roots, values, and opinions.


Being in your twenties is a great time, but it's a time when people must learn to balance their own lives. No one will tell you to come home early, eat at a certain time, wake up on time, or avoid people or places that are undeserving. As a twenty-something, you are able to eat dessert for dinner, stay up until 3 am then work at 9 am, buy the frivolous car, run your credit cards up to absurd amounts, and stop taking care of yourself. However, you learn that it all comes with a price. You can't perform at your best without sleep, adequate nutrition, and free time. You miss your college assignments, you fail. You skip work, you don't get paid. You miss talking to friends, you lose your social connections.


Some people spend too much time focusing on their personal life. Others spend too much time focusing on their professional lives. I was in the second group. I spent the majority of my twenty-something years trying to find the perfect career. Luckily, it wasn't a fruitless effort and it has truly paid off. Nevertheless, I made some difficult decisions to focus on my professional life at the expensive of my personal life. I choose degrees over connections.


For a while, I started to believe that I didn't deserve to have friends. That it wasn't possible to have a social life while going to school, working multiple jobs, and building a career. It's easy to get into the mindset that there is no reason to do anything besides work and sleep. I believe that socializing was a luxury that I did not have the ability to juggle. That is a lonesome place.


My friends are juggling the same activities that I'm juggling and in most cases much, much more. Some work multiple jobs, raise kids, maintain close ties with their families, manage a household, and pursue higher education.


However, I have some real ride-or-die friends. That's why I'm so thankful for them. Fabulous people have stuck by me and believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. They have endured canceled plans at the last moment and text messages with a 3 day lag time. Yet, they still invite me to lunch. They still care. That is a beautiful part of life-- to be surrounded by people that care.




I'm a firm believer in the idea that your experiences make you who you are. Make it a point to check in with friends and to be understanding of their struggles. I think I was meant to learn that I can not judge a person if they have to cancel plans for the 5th time in a row. If I don't hear from a friend, I know it's probably not personal. In fact, it's my duty to give that person a call or text message to check on them. They might need me to listen and I can't be hung up waiting for them to connect with me.


And maybe I don't deserve my friends, but damn I appreciate them.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Quitter

I didn't leave the 2015-16 school year with the idea that I would not be going back to teaching this year. I left it, with hopes of a different future. The realization hit me a couple weeks later. I knew, that for my health, I would need to quit teaching. I still wasn't ready yet. I definitely didn't want to tell anyone, particularly my coworkers who were always there for me.  

I can't say it was just one reason that made me leave. Before the school year started last year, I had approached a person above me, someone that I thought would be able to help me. I told this person that I felt like a failure at my job. I was expecting them to either: tell me that I was doing the best that I could OR help me to change my circumstances (i.e. teaching with 3 preps, overlapping classes, help me to manage my caseload, help me organize my time better, give me pro-tips to help me fix it, etc.). This person, someone that I looked up to, responded by saying-- "We really don't need that sort of negativity." And that was it. From that moment on, I packed up all of my sadness, depression, and anger into my little Honda Civic and took it home with me. My journals serve as an alarming reminder of the many dark days when I was screaming out for help. I felt guilty about being negative around others. At times, I still cried in my classroom, in the bathroom, or with other coworkers due to the sheer pressure of it all, but I gave up the hope that I'd be able to change the future as a special education teacher. 

The stakes are so high in education, each one of those children is someone's baby and their futures depend a great deal on their experiences in the classroom. I wanted to be able to teach my students how to read fluently, write with clarity, and be genuinely, good people. By the end of the year, my only focus was making sure that they were caring and considerate human beings. I gave up on the tests. I wanted them to be able to read longer words and I pushed them to read on their own, but I stopped caring about what the standards said. 

I am gratified by the relationships that I had with my students. I, also, know that I couldn't prepare them to read and write effectively to the standards that would equip them for the rest of their lives. I wanted miracles. I wanted them to love reading. In the end, I'm proud of what I was able to teach my students and I'm proud of each and every one of the kids. My heart was in the right place, but I had to go.    

There is only so much I can say about my experiences. Suffice it to say, that special education, and possibly education as a whole, needs as strong makeover. It's not all about the position, It's about me too. I don't think I was cut out for being a special education teacher. I've learned that I'm WAY too sensitive for the job. I wanted to save my students, to be their hero; it's just not realistic. Sometimes, their lives suck and they are dealt shitty cards in life. I couldn't handle the fact that I couldn't fix their circumstances for them.

The moment when I knew that it was okay to let go was powerful. I was bawling my eyes out on the phone with my mom. I was screaming about every single mistake I'd ever made in my life. My mom, in a tearful, but courageous, voice said to me-- "No matter what you do in life, from now on, I will always be proud of you." I am very close with my mom. I already knew she would always be proud of me, however I needed that conversation. That conversation told me that despite, or possibly because of, all of my flaws--someone will always be proud of me. That's all I needed to let go. I wrote my resignation and sent it. I gave a vague resignation the last week in June and then spent the rest of the summer praying that I would be released from my contract. My release came about 2 weeks into August and I didn't look back. I'm not sorry for leaving.

In my mind, I could either live with one of the two ideas about myself: I'm a failure or I'm a quitter. Failure meant that I wasn't sure if I wanted to wake up the next day because what would be the point--Get up, fail, then go to sleep? It wasn't a decision that I could live with. So, I chose to be a quitter. I'm here to tell others, it's okay to be a quitter. If you feel miserable, quit. So what if you haven't found your niche yet, You will. I will too.

I wrote this in my journal and later on social media and it sums up my feelings pretty well:
Sometimes, in life, you come to a point in your journey where you realize you will have to make a choice. You can continue living the way you are or you can sacrifice what you're used to for the hope of happiness.
Do it, give up what you think you want and need, for joy. Sacrifice for happiness, do it every single time. No one ever looks back on their life and thinks, I just spent too much time being happy.


And, I am truly happy. I'm just lucky, and blessed, that I have multiple passions in life and now I get the opportunity to pursue my other life passions beyond teaching secondary students. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Becoming a Run on Thanksgiving Person

I continue to have people ask me all the time how I lost all the weight and how I've maintained it. There is no 'simple' answer. Holidays are especially hard. So how the heck did I go from starve myself all day leading up to 3 Thanksgiving dinners to running a half marathon before 10am on the Thanksgiving?

Lifestyle Change
I was walking out of the door yesterday to go on one of my first 40 degrees and windy runs this fall, my friend said, "You're the type of person that runs on Thanksgiving, you've got this." The statement stuck with me throughout my run. It's true, now I'm the person that runs on Thanksgiving. My lifestyle has completely changed since I started Weight Watchers and running, but it didn't happen over night. 

Tiny Goals
My lifestyle has changed one week at a time by making tiny goals each week. For example, one week my goal might be to run 4 days. Another week my goal could be to drink a cup of water before dinner. Then my next week could be to stock up my refrigerator with 0 points food like fruits and vegetables. These tiny goals build upon each other and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Earn it
Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite holidays. Thanksgiving means family and food-- plain and simple. I love family and I love food. The last 2 years, I have changed the way I celebrate Thanksgiving, from the day that I overeat and literally have a food coma, to a long run day. I've ran 8 or more miles the last 2 Thanksgivings followed by family and food then shopping-- earning myself the extra points to eat all my favorites while staying in control of my eating.

Only Favorite Foods
Thanksgiving, my goal could be to avoid the foods that I don't LOVE-- like rolls, they're pretty good and all but I'm not a huge bread eater. Before Weight Watchers, I would have ate the 2 rolls before I even remembered that I don't really love them. Now, I strictly eat the foods I love because I'm not wasting my hard earned points on anything less than the best. So dinner-- Turkey, stuffing, gravy, and mashed potato mixture with some veggies on the side followed by a big piece of pecan pie will do. 

Staying in Control
Knowing myself, I've learned a lot about my relationship with food. I know that if I don't eat within about 4 hours, I'm going to get hangry. By the time I hit the hangry state, I'm already out of control with my eating. I will over eat then crash right afterwards. To stay in control, I must stay ahead of my hunger so I snack on veggies, fruits, and low points foods particularly on Thanksgiving.


My life is completely different now from how it was 3 years ago. Now, I'm a Run-to-Earn-Turkey kind of girl.


50 in 5 Completed Races:
California- San Francisco Marathon- 7/26/2015
District of Columbia- Navy Air Force 9/20/2015
Maryland- Baltimore Running Festival Half 10/17/2015
Virginia- Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half 9/6/2015
Pennsylvania- Philadelphia Oktoberfest 13.1 10/25/2015
Delaware- C&D Half Marathon- 11/7/2015




Richmond November 15, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Three Months, 4 States

Finally I'm writing again. After starting school and getting married to my amazingly patient husband in September, I spent the end of September and early October in a stress-induced sick, stupor. Turns out one of the best remedies for stress is running but when I'm so tired I can barely move, it's a bit difficult to convince myself to run. 



I've done some running, but I haven't reached nearly high enough mileage for the November 14th Richmond marathon in 3 weeks! Yikes, it might be time to look at dropping down to the half marathon.

It's been exactly three months today, since I started my 50 in 5 years goal. Since July, I have checked off California, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District from my list of states. 


I've had to rethink my 50 in 5 goal, instead of running my dream races like Chicago, NYC, and Boston marathons, I've decided to run small, cheap, medal earning races. I'm hoping this will bring down my costs-- especially since some races are so highly priced (San Francisco was $170!!!). My latest race, today, Oktoberfest Philadelphia was only $59.




States Completed:
California- San Francisco Marathon- 7/26/2015
District of Columbia- Navy Air Force 9/20/2015
Maryland- Baltimore Running Festival Half 10/17/2015
Virginia- Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half 9/6/2015
Pennsylvania- Philadelphia Oktoberfest 13.1 10/25/2015






Saturday, July 25, 2015

50 States in 5 Years

Today is my 25th birthday and tomorrow is the San Francisco marathon, my second full marathon. Just like every time I'm about to run a race, I have the race jitters. When you're about to run a race, there are about a million things running through your head-- have you've trained enough? Are you prepared for everything? Do you have the right clothes, enough bandaids, Gatorade, and Gu (flavored, nutrient-filled vaseline-like substance)? Are you're going to make it? Then right before the race, there's this calm that comes over you, all the doubts go away. You just push it all out of your mind, shut up, and run. I'm waiting for the calm to come tomorrow morning.
Training Run (20 miles) Before and After the run.
Like most race runners-- I'm highly addicted to the rush I get from crossing the finish line. Each time, I find myself thinking of the next race I want to run. 

My next goal, is to run a race, half marathon or marathon, in each of the 50 states before I turn 30. I've been planning this goal for a while now. Luckily, there are these running events put on by running groups such as Mainly Marathons that runners can hit 7 races, 7 states, in 7 days. I'm hoping to knock at least a couple states off my list that way.


Although I have big running goals, I'm hoping that I have enough money to get to and run races in all 50 states. Races are pricey-- ranging from $40-250 per race plus the cost of hotels and food. But, I figure that I better do this while I'm young. There's a saying that I absolutely love: There will come a day when I will not longer be able to run, my body will give out, my knees will give up, my mind won't be quite so sharp, and my body will be laid to rest, but today is not that day. Today, I will run.


So tomorrow, as I run across the Golden Gate Bridge, for a bit I hope to stop thinking about my journey here-- all the training, preparation, and planning that goes into a marathon and my future with all the races I plan to run. During my marathon, I will remain present in mind and lay the future and past aside as I run in the moment. Here's to 25 years on this earth, today, and the upcoming years-- I will to strive to make them the best.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to Eat like a Marathon Running Weight Watcher

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm a food addict. I like shopping for, prepping, cooking, and most importantly eating food. I used to think that to be healthy, I would need to cut out all the sugar, carbs, chocolate, fat or whatever the latest diet trend of the day happened to be. So I'd spend one day eating salad (no dressing), yogurt, and a tick-tac for dessert and the next day I'd eat everything in the house and an entire bag of Reeses.


When I finally joined Weight Watchers, I realized that I really could eat any food that I wanted as long as I ate it in moderation. So I still go to seafood buffets because they are my absolute favorite but I start with broccoli, mushrooms, and salads before I move onto the buttery, shell-fish heaven on a plate. This helps me to savor the main course but still get the food that I want. Another plus is that I'm still eating with everyone else and no sitting there drooling and dreaming about having just one more plate. I can still stay within my WW points range too.

In order to be able to run for 5+ miles, it is so important to eat. You really have to eat the right foods too or you'll end up in a port-a-potty, praying, and crossing the finish line 20 minutes later than your pace group. So my biggest tip when people ask me for eating advice is to eat TONS, like literally tons, of fruits and vegetables.



Add Vegetable to Everything
I add vegetables to every single meal in some way. When we eat spaghetti, I put grilled mushrooms on top. I should own stock in the Steamables frozen food bags, my freezer is stocked to the brim with snow peas, broccoli, mixed vegetables, and whatever other veggies look good to me. Especially during the school year, I'm too tired to cut and cook veggies so sometimes I buy them already and that really makes it more convenient to eat more vegetables.




This is a quick lunch for me. I sauté peppers (prepackaged and cut), add balsamic vinaigrette, and mushrooms. Heat a wrap for about 10 sec. in the microwave then add cheese. 







I've even convinced Thomas to do meatless Mondays with me. I make a vegetable as the main dish, my absolute favorite being Poor Man's Crab cakes, a recipe from Clyde Howard's Farm, they're made out of zucchini and taste exactly like crab cakes. I make a remoulade to go on top too.






Snack on Fruits 
Snacking on fruits throughout the day has saved me so many times from afternoon, boredom hunger. I normally have apples, oranges, and bananas in the house at all times then I add in season berries, peaches, etc. You can also try putting extra fruit like strawberries or raspberries in smoothies to bulk up the recipe and add extra fruit goodness.

To eat like a marathon running Weight Watcher, you should try to fill up on fruits and vegetables. Fats, carbs, and protein are important too but it can be scary, especially for a Weight Watcher, to add those at first. There are plenty of recipes to make vegetables and fruits taste great. Share your favorite recipes in the comment section so that we can all try new ways to get fruits and veggies into our diet.