Monday, December 31, 2012

In The Zone or Year-End Review

Ample Lanes And Non-Arctic Temps
I haven't been swimming in over 10 days. Did you feel the vibration as my body shook from withdrawal?

I looked around at area pools, saw what time the high school team would be practicing at this one center and decided to hit the pool after the school's session. My timing was impeccable. A swimmer was leaving as I put my paraphernalia on the bench.

It's awkward being at a different pool with different people and it took me ten laps just to settle down. I had no intention of swimming a mile and I seldom do. My intention is to first swim for 30 minutes or 10 laps. Once I hit my first goal, I relax. I had time and a lane all to myself. Why not go for a mile? The last ten laps wore me out but I dug deep. I ignored the fact that I drifted to the right of the black line. I stopped wiping away the fog from my goggles. I stopped paying attention to the lifeguards rotating stations seemingly every 20 minutes and I stopped worrying about the people on the observation deck. Guess I got in the zone...

After stepping into my first yoga class in May of 2011, this was definitely the year that I got my yoga groove on. There are things that I could dwell on but I'm not. I moved my body a lot in 2012 and my enjoyment, at my body in motion, was profound.

 The year-end review:

10 Minute Solution: 5 Day Get Fit Mix

  • Cardio Kickboxing, 17 x's
  • Power Yoga, 3 x's
  • 10 Minute Solution: cardio hip hop
  • Hip Hop 101, 1 x
  • House Party, 1 x

  • 10 Minute Solution: Dance Your Body Thin!
  • Smooth and Sexy Moves, 2 x's

  • 10 Minute Solution: Kickbox Boot Camp
  • Basic Training, 3 x's

  • 10 Minute Solution: KnockOut Body!
  • KnockOut Body Blast, 1 x
  • Ultimate Upper Body, 2 x's

  • 10 Minute Solution: Rapid Results fat burner
  • Power Sports Drill, 1 x

  • 10 Minute Solution: Tone Trouble Zones!
  • Arms & Shoulders, 1 x
  • 10 Minute Stretch, 10 x's

  • Arc Trainer, 1 x

    Backs and Biceps Class (San Diego), 1 x 

    Bicycling, 15 x's 

    Dance It Off & firm up!, 1 x 

    Give Me 10!

  • Bonus Kettlebell ToneUp, 5 x's
  • Fat Blaster, 1 x
  • Yoga Stretch & Flex, 3 x's

  • Kettlebell Practice
    , 42 x's 

    Kickboxing Class, 5 x's

    Latin Cardio Party, 1 x 

    Personal Training with Jackie: Crunch-Free Xtreme Abs

  • Standing Crunch-Free Xtreme Abs

  • Personal Training with Jackie: Power Circuit Training
  • 15-Minute Upper Body Circuit, 6 x's
  • 15-Minute Total Body Circuit, 2 x's
  • 40-Minute Total Body Circuit, 1 x

  • Pure Barre Class (San Diego), 1 x 

    Rock Climbing, 40 x's 

    Spinning, 2 x's

    StairMaster, 2 x's 

    Swimming, 87 x's 

    Treadmill, 5 x's 

    Walking, 93 x's 

    Wii, 11 x's 

    willPower & grace, 4 x's 

    Yoga, 143 x's

    How do you feel about your 2012? Did you find yourself leaning towards one activity more than another?

    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    One More Time

    On any given Sunday, there are lots of cars at the gym that belong to yogis. It's an impressive procession for Gloria's 11 a.m. class and she's told us before that the class is not full until there's one hand space between each mat.

    After class started, a young man walked in and Gloria told him that there was still room -- ending with I don't know where...

    Modeling for us, Gloria moved her mat over and the final yogi joined us for the morning.

    I think we all know by now to watch out for our neighbors when extending arms or legs. My yoga neighbor was completely parallel to me and I was totally fine with it. Energy-wise, I'm growing fond of being in proximity to others while practicing.

    Gloria started off class by reading excerpts from Yoga Over 50, I think. The first excerpt was about how rejuvenation of the body is totally possible at 50 and beyond. Gloria looked out at the mostly under 50 crowd and said You'll realize this when you're lucky enough to reach that age....A Deepak Chopra passage was next. I don't fully remember it but it was something about spirituality plus your body being your ally...

    Last night, I picked up the 'fugee then headed to Asmira's who's also a 'fugee. So, I guess it was an evening with the 'fugees. After dinner, Asmira's husband, Izet, played ping pong with me. I haven't played ping pong in decades and Izet had to give me pointers about which direction to turn the paddle in if I was hitting the ball from the left or right side etc. I was surprised by how fatigued my arm got after a short time but ping pong is so addictive and so much fun. Had I been in the right attire, short-sleeves, and thought to bring water with me, I could have played ping pong all night. As it was I kept saying, One more time. Okay, one more more time...

    Also, if you haven't seen it, check out Ping Pong Playa -- cute movie.

    Thursday, December 27, 2012


    A Few of My Favorite Things
    Wall yoga or yoga at the wall is the perfect post-kettlebell Rx. I stretched my back, arms and sidewalls in unimaginable ways and, if the hips are the engine for kettlebell swings, I also did necessary, engine maintenance.

    As we did pigeon, Madonna told me that I looked beautiful. I must have thrown her a look because she asked Don't you feel beautiful tonight? Then she directed my gaze toward my classmates and asked me if they looked beautiful. I told her that Yes, they looked gorgeous... You guys crack me up, she said...

    I was stunned when Madonna prompted us to prepare for savasana. I could not believe that it was the end of class but almost 90 minutes had gone by.

    After we rolled up our mats and put our shoes back on Gail, a classmate, said I could play on the wall for another hour.

    Wednesday, December 26, 2012

    The Up and Up

    Bell up, Marisa told Andrew when he arrived.

    Collectively, we were told many things including to sit down, stand up and double press our kettlebells.

    Somewhere in the middle we did burpees, sumo squats, jumping jacks, double cleans and tuck jumps.

    In yoga, we do a lunge with a twist and sometimes pigeon with a twist but, with Marisa, it's a reverse lunge with a forward kick.

    Marisa always has something interesting up her Nike sleeve so we did Spiderman push-ups, a saw plank and traveling swings and cleans. It's already challenging for me to do kettlebell cleans but cleaning while traveling was even more of a coordination challenge.

    At some point, Marisa told us how sore she was and that her workout consisted of running a mile, 100 push-ups and 150 squats plus some other situation. I asked her if she wanted a chocolate chip cookie for her accomplishments. I often attempt to distract Marisa but it seldom works. Plus, she wanted "the cookie."

    We ended class with a plank. T up, Marisa said after 30 seconds -- then Hips up. In side plank, it took lots of effort to get my hips up and it took even more to get up off the floor when the Gymboss beeped for the last time.

    Monday, December 24, 2012


    Crossed the river to attend Cindy's Christmas Eve class which also doubled as a fundraiser for Compassionate Friends.

    It was a very sweet class with holiday tunes in the background and props galore. The studio also made the experience special. It's cozy, has inviting colors and just about as many lights (soft) as props.

    I think everyone should experience restorative yoga but definitely before major events.

    At the end of class we gathered in a circle, put or left hand over our heart and our right hand on the person next to us and sang om three times which inspired  powerful feelings of connectedness, compassion and peace.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Yoga Is

    Yoga is gentle but powerful Gloria told us this morning and I often think about that and it was definitely on my mind as I hovered in plank, transitioned to cobra then downward facing dog. My heart, totally resounding in my ears, sounded like a drum major.

    And I thought about my new block as Gloria encouraged us to claw our hands to the floor as if we had a softball underneath. I needed a little help bringing the floor to me in low lunge etc.

    I've also been thinking about last Sunday’s yoga session. There’s no reason to hold tension in the body Gloria told us when she walked us through body positioning for savasana. I feel like I often hold my body up just as I tried to hold my feet up in savasana instead of letting them flop open.

    My new favorite Zen proverb is:
    Let go or be dragged.
    When I went to a mindfulness workshop last month, the instructor had a tray with quotes – kind of like a spiritual after workshop mint. I picked a Pema Chodron quote.

    I like this Chodron excerpt from one of her speeches.

    Went for a walk and is it just me or do you see yoga everywhere too?

    Reverse Warrior

    Warrior One

    Lion's Breath

    Saturday, December 22, 2012

    You Wanna Be Starting Something...

    Sara Ivanhoe is the instructor of the Weight Watchers‘ Yoga Starter Kit*. I've practiced to Ivanhoe’s DVDs before including Yoga for Dummies and Crunch: Candlelight Yoga. I liked both but really enjoyed the latter.

    The starter kit includes the DVD, a strap, block, 10 week exercise tracker and has two segments – get moving and get strong. Get Moving is done mostly standing and Get Strong is done primarily on the floor. In addition, Get Moving is done almost exclusively with a block between your thighs; it took me a minute to get used to it but I loved it. I felt like my alignment was good. In fact, I felt much better about Warrior One than I've ever felt.

    Because Ivanhoe’s instructions were straightforward and solid, I felt empowered or, rather, I felt like I knew what I was doing. I was also inspired to email my gym to see if they would get blocks at one particular branch…

    After trying the Yoga Starter Kit, I went to Gloria’s class the next day and she talked about blocks and she never talks about blocks but she said:

    If you put a block between your thighs, it strengthens the legs and integrates the core. 

    Gloria also talked about one of the first yoga teachers, Lilias Folan, who used to be on PBS and, during those televised yoga sessions, the yogis would use rugs for mats and shoe boxes for blocks. Gloria went on to tell us that Folan recently appeared in Yoga Journal and discussed how cancer has been a guru...

    The Weight Watchers kit is a great place to start. I totally wish that I had known about a yoga starter when I began practicing. As a "seasoned" yogi, I didn't get bored with it because, one, I like a gentle practice and, two, it has modifications. 

    *Disclosure: Kit received without reimbursement...

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    See You Next Lifetime?

    As I watched the snow blow by at 30 miles per hour, I wondered if yoga class would be canceled. I checked my email and the website before heading out and it was kind of funny when I saw a bicyclist go by. Surely, if he could bicycle in cold and windy conditions, practicing yoga in a studio was possible.

    Three people found their way to class and Madonna brought out more accessories than ever before… With a belt attached to plate three and a keeper on the end of my belt, Madonna guided me into a backbend but when she asked me to raise my arms, I was like You want me to do what? which made Gail crack up…I got my knees to the wall and leaned back and I didn't crash to the floor…I hope that one day I’ll get over my fear of being upside down.

    I’m pretty sure that the world is not going to end tomorrow and I’d be miffed if it did end on Friday but I’m glad that I got in one more om in case anything goes down. 

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    Something About the Water

    I had no intention of swimming but the pool called my name. Plus, there is often something about the water that is peaceful.

    Got there and only two other people were in the pool so it was quiet except for the Christmas music which I am really not in the mood to hear although my ears did perk up at the plaintive tones of O Holy Night.

    There is part of me that wants to take a vow of silence right now or go on a silent retreat or retreat but...

    As this man said during a meeting this morning, there is comfort in numbers.

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

    Less Pussyfooting

    As I swam, I saw someone at the other end of the lane. Sigh. It was the same woman from last time. Plus, she didn't ask last time which is "bad" swimming etiquette. Okay, she didn't get in the water until I made eye contact with her.

    I’m back, she said. Sigh. Does she not like sharing a lane with anyone else? Was I sending out a special share-my-lane vibe?

    But funny things happened whilst lane sharing.

    No claustrophobia like when I first started swimming and another person got in the lane with me.

    Maybe I didn't feel claustrophobic because I’m better at the front crawl.

    As I shared the lane, there was less pussyfooting on my part.

    Less experimenting with my body position.

    Less trying to breathe into the area of my armpit.

    Less concern about the little pinch that I felt in my right hamstring or the quadriceps' tweak.

    I think, in the words of Ice Cube, I just did the damn thing because I wanted to be at the opposite end of the lane since I didn't want to do side-by-side swimming.

    I also think that my form was better because I didn't want to encroach on the other swimmer's space so it became like moving between two panes of glass like you do with half moon pose or like getting close to a wall to work on your kettlebell clean in order to follow the mid-line to make that zipper-like motion.

    Before I knew it, I was on lap 26. You know what that means, right?  I was so close to a mile that I could not pass it up. Maybe lane sharing is not such a bad thing..

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    Marisa Doesn't Need Box Jumps

    Marisa Demonstrating on TRX
    Got to Marisa’s place and didn’t see any other cars. If I had fingernails, I would have gnawed on them. I did not, under any circumstances, want Marisa’s undivided attention and, yet, I got out of my car and put one foot in front of the other. Brownie point for me.

    Marisa let me know that several people were en route.  Even she knows that no one wants to be alone with her.

    When Tiffany arrived, she threw the mother of all sullen looks. At first, I thought that I imagined it but I said something anyway and Marisa was like Yeah, that was quite a look.

    Tiffany sprained her ankle under shady circumstances. No box jumps, said Marisa then Tiffany turned to me and said You can thank me later but Marisa doesn’t need box jumps in her repertoire to make you suffer.

    We did planks perched on a medicine ball, push-ups on the TRX. Double cleans. Russian step-ups – you name it. Marisa did incorporate boxing and, as I kicked the bag, Megan said that she thought I’d found my true calling and I do miss boxing. Small problem -- after 40 seconds of boxing, I could barely swing the kettlebell in the next station…

    As Tiffany and I went out the door, I told her about my internal dialogue – I would not mull over the intensity of kettlebell class. Kettlebell practice is not supposed to be easy. Tiffany cracks me up because she often talks about the lure of sitting on the couch. It’s nice to have someone who is also ambiguous about a tough workout but shows up anyway.

    Sunday, December 9, 2012

    Where's Your Mind?

    The Road to Relaxation

    Find comfort in the body, Gloria told us. ‘Tis the season so I interpreted it as find comfort and joy in the body…

    Mind you, Gloria encouraged us to find comfort in the body right before she tested our mettle.

    Where’s your mind?, Gloria inquired.

    Funny she should ask because while we were in warrior one for a prolonged period, my arms started screaming and I saw people in the back of the room drop their arms and I wanted to but I remembered something Sharon said Don’t worry about how long I hold you in the pose, focus on your breathing.

    Minutes later, Gloria said: Keen concentration plus attention to the breath will help you stay in these poses

    Right before savasana, Gloria talked about conscious relaxation and I thought Yes, I always have access to this state of mind.

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Thumb Lock

    ...Your Brain on Chalk
    Squared off with this route and couldn’t get past the second hold so I came down and tried again. Still couldn’t get past the second hold so I came down again and again and again.

    I had, basically, been bouldering and had tired myself out. After untying my rope, this guy told me:

    It was within your reach… You were so focused on that one hold…If you had used a thumb lock  you would have been able to get past that point but you were holding it like you were holding onto the handlebars of a bike…And it wouldn’t hurt if you didn’t have fingernails*…You can do it! 
    The advisor’s partner told me that if it was any consolation, he didn’t like that route and it was reassuring knowing that he is a better climber and also found the route awkward but what gave me a lot of comfort was that someone took the time to make suggestions and cheer me on.

    *Cracks me up when really skilled climbers call you out for having too long fingernails.

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

    Beacon and The Swing

    Beacon in the Night

    After kettlebell class last night, my body’s report was immediate: tweaked quads, calves, glutes and shoulders. I took my ruined body to yoga and the class was everything that I needed plus more.

    We had all kinds of goodies: bolsters, straps and blocks.

    Who needs a pelvic swing? Madonna wanted to know as she pulled more accessories out of the closet.

    I felt like a vertical snow angel as we had our arms in crossed straps while opening our shoulders.

    While in the pelvic swing, Madonna told me to grab onto her ankle and she walked my left hand toward the right side of my body. VoilĂ , spinal twist. We even stretched our biceps while in the yoga straps.

    And what was it about having a strap around my left hip and having my right leg upright and suspended from a strap on the yoga wall that made me sleepy and content?

    I also did a back-bend from the swing with assistance from Madonna. 

    After the most amazing savasana, we sang om once. The woman across from me, well, her om was like a world traveler. It went up and down, back and forth, around the room then came back home. Amazing class. My apologies to the people at Target who were subjected to my post-yoga singing...

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

    Letting It Be

    Stand up and finish what you started, a Bob Harperism, seldom enters my mind anymore while swimming.  Now it’s let it be effortless or effortless effort – something that Gloria likes to say in yoga class. 

    Front crawl is now the method I use to get in my first 10 laps and it really does feel like the path of least resistance – of the strokes that I know anyway. When I take the time to streamline and breathe into the area of my armpit, I really do feel in synch and submarine-ish.

    I’m totally digging swimming and yoga right now so I’m just going to ride that wave for a while. I did go by the climbing gym before swimming so that I don’t completely forget my footwork et al…and because I hadn’t seen Patti for a minute.

    Where are you going after this?, Patti asked. That woman knows me well…

    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Tantrum Style

    I call this picture Self-Portrait: Taking the Bike Inside or What Happens When You Have an iPod and Like to Take Pictures.

    There’s something nice but ominous about wearing shorts and short-sleeves in December in the Midwest.
    I've been on my bike two days in a row because I, obviously, can’t resist the weather.

    After riding, got ready to practice with Pure Yoga a.k.a Gloria who talked about effortless effort and being compassionate to your body. She talked about compassion just around the time she led the class into a “cheerleader” split. I haven’t done one of those in ages and didn't try...compassion.

    Right before savasana, we put our legs up in reverse table top and kicked our legs tantrum-style. I love this situation and also dug wagging the tail where you move your hips from left to right.

    I even managed to start dinner somewhere between my bike ride and yoga. I’m not sure what attracted me to this recipe so long ago -- lots of chopping and lots of dishes involved. It’s  been so long since I made it that I had to Google How long does balsamic vinegar last?

    Onions Galore

    I’m trying to get momentum again with cooking. I've been making soups but kind of tired of my small rotation and tired, for a minute, of Steamfresh vegetables and my chicken that I get from Trader Joe’s. If I can cook on Sunday, it definitely sets the right pace for the week since I don’t need to wonder what I’m going to eat. Dinner's already done and I can go off and do my exercise thing…
    Suspect Balsamic Vinegar

    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    Making Muscle

    When I see the word yoga, my heart beats a little faster. There’s this car with Be Yoga personalized plates and I love seeing it since it reminds me of the benefits of practicing.

    When I arrived at Prana Yoga, I got a little thrill when I saw the signage on the building. Went to Prana to practice during a fundraiser for the Red Cross/Hurricane Sandy. I attended Cindy’s 30 minute session which was short and sweet.

    Surrounded by all of those mirrors, I did not dislike what I saw. Not even the darker spots on my elbows, from planks, or the darker spots on my knees, from knees-to-feet, bothered me. It’s ironic and reminds me of that Zora Neale Hurston phrase: I love myself when I am laughing and then again when I am looking mean and impressive. Not that I was laughing, looking mean or impressive.

    When I think about my body image, I also think about a Seinfeld episode, The Strike; Jerry dates a woman who's attractive one day but not the next

    At any rate, went swimming after yoga and there was only one other person in the pool at first.

    After some time, a boy and a man took up residence in the lane next to me. The boy, Joel, was pretty petite but worried about carbohydrates. The man told Joel he should be eating mainly chicken and fish. Pork tastes good but it’s really not good for you. If you eat too many carbohydrates and you don’t use it, they turn into sugar then into fat but you don’t really need to worry about that.

    The man was a pusher too. Let’s go, Joel; you’ve already rested. Let’s go in 15 seconds. Come on, Joel – let’s go make some muscle.