From Stressed to Stretched

I took a deep breath before entering the building. I have said this before and nothing has changed I am always nervous to try a new workout. Classes in New York have an even greater level of intimidation to me, but there really is no reason, I have had only one uncomfortable experience when I was told by two incredibly skinny 6 foot model types that I was doing an exercise wrong and I have been scared ever since.

This day I was trying Lastics, a class designed by Donna Flagg, that consisted of various stretching techniques. I’ll be honest, I chose this workout because I thought I would breeze through with little sweat and exertion, I was wrong.

Within moments of the first stretch I was shaking, it was as if all of a sudden my legs were plugged in to an electrical outlet somewhere. We were seated on the floor, legs stretched out in front of us,  instructed to push our legs down until they were flush to the floor, no matter how hard I tried to push the back of my wobbly knees to the floor I couldn’t. Donna was very in tune to what everyone in the class was doing so I couldn’t hide. She came over and pushed gently on my knees helping them to finally touch the floor, she told me to keep them there and when she let go they popped back up, I had no control.

At one point we were instructed to pull our leg up behind us with our heel touching our butt, I struggled, leaning against a wall trying to grab at my ankle. I know from plenty of workout classes that I am one of a few who can’t successfully do this without holding on to a wall or kicking my leg up behind me and praying that my hand connects with my shoe laces so I can hold on to something other than my actual foot to do this stretch. What makes this move so difficult for me? I have no clue, could be extra padding, could be lack of flexibility, it’s definitely a lack of coordination.

There were plenty of other moves that were equally as challenging for me but in the end I left feeling good, my muscles were awake, I had exerted plenty of energy and had learned a new form of exercise.

Donna is a no nonsense instructor who calls you out when you aren’t hitting the perfect form, needless to say I got a lot of attention. I normally would have been embarrassed by so much attention but I was not alone and while direct, Donna is very friendly.

The workout is meant to aide your body in creating lean, limber and elongated muscles. I knew that taking one class wouldn’t get me to a dancer’s body but I am definitely intrigued. If you have interest in learning more about Lastics you should check out Donna’s collection of books and dvds for home practice.

The images below were taken from Lastics.com

lastics-class_3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BIG bite out of the Big Apple

2013-11-28 15.02.13

Brooklyn Bridge

When I decided to spend an extended period of time in New York City I knew that it was going to be a challenge to maintain my healthy eating and consistent workouts. The city has so many temptations, so many opportunities to over indulge and I took plenty. I have a handful of friends who live in the city and we spent plenty of time going out to eat and imbibing in food and drinks that were not part of a healthy eating plan.

I stayed in the city for about six weeks, and about five of those weeks I wasn’t focused on my health. I chose happy hours over workouts and late nights to early mornings. I was cognizant of what I was eating and watched my portion control and I walked a lot, up stairs, down stairs, across avenues, down streets, through Mid-Town and Downtown, across the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park. It was the walking that saved me. I didn’t gain a single pound in New York, in fact I lost a pound. Yes, a pound. Hey I will take what I can get. It was a lesson in how important movement is in life.

This blog has been a wonderful way to share my experiences and challenges but it also is incredibly stressful. I took off on this epic journey telling everyone that I was taking time from my daily life routine to explore the country while trying to become healthier physically and emotionally. Overall, I have succeeded. I have lost over forty pounds, not exactly the number I was hoping for by this time in the trip but still something to be very proud of. One of my dear friends reminded me during his visit to New York that I should be proud of my accomplishments, that weight loss isn’t easy and it has never been easy for me, I shouldn’t discount the weight I have lost even if it falls below where I had hoped to be. He is right, I know he is however, one of my biggest fears as I prepare to head home for the holidays is that everyone I left behind is going to judge my progress when they see me in person. I play reels in my head where I meet up with friends and they can’t even notice a change in my body. I run into ex co-workers who wonder what I have been doing with the last few months, why was it I gave up the security of a job to go travel and lose weight if I haven’t lost much weight.

In reality I know that anyone who cares for me would never judge me in this way and all the others shouldn’t be my concern. I can tell a change in my health, energy and physicality and I am the only one who truly matters. This negative self talk needs to end in order for me to continue my success. And what does success look like for me on this trip? To be honest this trip has become so much more than losing weight, that is still a focus and definitely a goal of mine but there are so many other things to attend to.

New York was an incredible experience, I got a taste of living in the big city, spent time with many friends who I love and adore and was able to visit many cultural and city landmarks. Would I ever consider living in New York? Perhaps, if I had millions of dollars, it is not the best city to be cash poor, then again what city is? My friend Amanda told me that I spoke of Seattle so much while we were together it was as if I hadn’t gotten over an ex and couldn’t stop talking about them. Funny analogy, the thing is I am not ready to break up with Seattle. I will visit New York as often as possible but my heart belongs in Seattle. That said, I am eager to return, until then I have many fond memories to sustain me!

My host Amanda! East Village living!

My host Amanda! East Village living!

My host Emily! Chelsea Living!

My host Emily! Chelsea Living!

My dear friend Josh! Sadly we didn't get a picture together.

My dear friend Josh! Sadly we didn’t get a picture together.

Kate! My main reason to head to Brooklyn!

Kate! My main reason to head to Brooklyn!

My dear friend Rebekah! First out of town visitor!

My dear friend Rebekah! First out of town visitor!

Sissy and Dave, all the way from Hawaii!!

Sissy and Dave, all the way from Hawaii!!

Couldn't be luckier to have been given such an amazing friend as my college roomie!

Couldn’t be luckier to have been given such an amazing friend as my college roomie!

Jason and Brenna Profit! Visiting from Seattle! So great to see such great friends!

Jason and Brenna Profit! Visiting from Seattle! So wonderful to see such great friends!

Getting into the holiday spirit!

Getting into the holiday spirit!

Gonzaga friends unite!

Gonzaga friends unite!

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Cold walk on the Brooklyn Bridge!

Halloween 2013! Best group costume ever!

Halloween 2013! Best group costume ever!

Macklemore XBox One release party! Invite and image given by Tyler Davis

Macklemore XBox One release party! Invite and image given by Tyler Davis

Update: The Long and Winding Road

NYC 2

I have been living in New York City for the past month and a half and plan to be here several more weeks. I have always wondered what it would be like to live in New York, I know that several months doesn’t count as living but it has given me a good taste of big city life. I have been splitting my time between my friend Amanda’s in the East Village and my friend Emily’s in Chelsea. I feel so fortunate to have such amazing friends who have opened their home to me making this stopover doable.

So far this journey has had me traveling from place to place spending no more than three nights in one location. My stint in New York threw me into a bit of a spiral. I had free time unlike anything I have ever experienced. I could take a three hour walk around town, duck into a coffee shop and meet friends for dinner. I could walk around Farmer’s Markets with my friend Josh who is a Chef watching him purchase food for the menu he was preparing that night. I should have been enjoying every moment of this but I found myself feeling guilty and even a little depressed.

I haven’t not worked since my early years as a college student and this free time had me feeling a bit out of sorts. I was surrounded by people rushing about their daily lives, and I had no reason to rush. I decided it would be beneficial to me to work some while I was in town and signed up with a temporary agency. The first morning I was on call I was riddled with anxiety about going to work in this crazy busy city. My phone never rang. The next morning was much the same and it has turned out that my phone has never rang, I decided instead of continuing on this path of anxiety to just relish in this time, enjoy the slow pace as it will be gone before I know it.

I have spent much of my time enjoying this city and my friends who live here. I was slow to connect with trainers and have had little luck connecting to nutritionists, healthy eating bloggers and healthy chefs. I have some guilt that I haven’t lost much weight while here (down an additional 3 pounds) but am proud to say I haven’t gained any. I have tried all sorts of food but am trying to eat in moderation and with all the walking I am doing here I feel stronger and leaner every day.

This week I have four workouts in a row ranging from high intensity interval training to yoga to aqua Zumba. I am still committed to my journey and warming up to the idea that I need to embrace each iteration that there is, each location holds its own challenges and joys.

NYC 1

Exceed Physical Culture

Screen shot 2013-11-18 at 8.36.30 AM

I almost didn’t recognize myself, I purposefully and willingly signed up for a Sunday morning workout. I took the Summit Class at Exceed Physical Culture which had us doing 45 second intervals with a ten second rest in between each set. It had been awhile since I had trained like this and I have to say I missed it a bit. I was reunited with my friend the TRX and while I still struggled through each set I was struggling less, hopping off the floor and transitioning between stations easier.

Exceed’s website brags that it was chosen in 2013 by NY Magazine as one of the best gyms in the city and that it was “for deadly serious athletes who like to, you know, sweat.” I am not going to lie this intimidated me a bit. I don’t necessarily like to sweat and I am definitely not a deadly serious athlete. I was however able to do the majority of the exercises and I definitely found myself sweating.

My trainer was Gabe Blanco, who has his own weight loss story, was a patient and motivating instructor. He was very attentive without being over bearing, checking in with me frequently to ensure that I was using the correct form and that my trick knee was holding up to the challenge. Several years ago after graduating from college he found himself overweight and ready to make a change, he started altering his diet and working out and lost 70lbs! Quite an inspiration. He decided he wanted to help other people share in this experience so he became a certified personal trainer. In addition to training at Exceed he also trains clients one-on-one through his personal business Never Stop Improving.

I usually enjoy the end of a class as it signifies the pain is over but this class ended with Gabe standing at the door handing out hugs. If you know me, you will know I am a sucker for a good hug. I left Exceed Physical Culture smiling, having just received an inspirational hug and feeling proud of my accomplishments thus far.

If you are in the NYC area and are looking for a trainer or gym check out Gabe and Exceed Physical Culture.

Gabe Blanco  – gabrielblancofitness@gmail.com or 917-678-2583

Exceed Physical Culture

Gabriel Blanco, Personal Trainer

Exceed 2

DMF – Dance Motivation Fitness

Dance-motivation-fitness-3

I am starting to wonder if people have been lying to me my whole life. I have been told on many a wedding dance floor that I am a really good dancer. True, there usually was copious amounts of alcohol flooding these compliments but somehow I still believed them.

I seriously had to question my ability to dance when I took a class at DMF, Dance Motivation Fitness. Created by Lindi Duesenberg, this class inspires and empowers you while making you sweat. Each song that plays has its own choreographed dance moves which to the average person are pretty easy to follow. I apparently am best when doing dance moves such as “starting the lawnmower” and “grocery shopping”, if you don’t know these moves let me know. What I wasn’t questioning was the fact that DMF is a good and more importantly FUN workout.

Lindi, who is originally from Seattle, keeps everyone going with her energetic personality and her motivational quips. It is often hard to remember why you are doing something while engaging in a move called “the booty pop” and looking at your red face and fuzzy hair in the studio mirror, but Lindi reminds you to be the best you can be and to push yourself in a non cheesy and empowering way.

In addition to her growing dance class business Lindi also likes to give back. She is currently working on starting a non-profit which will bring DMF into local schools, empowering kids through dance and discussions around life skills and education. Additionally, she hosts a dance class quarterly where all the proceeds go to a chosen charity. This Thursday she is hoping to raise money for The Young Women’s Leadership Network Schools.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I had stopped smiling on the streets of NYC, when Lindi reached out to invite me to class she told me that I needed to ignore what people had told me and to continue smiling. I can tell you, without a doubt that I was smiling the entire dance class. Smiling because I knew I was off dancing beat, smiling because I didn’t care and more importantly smiling because I was having fun.

Below you can see a video of one of her classes.

Lindi DMF

Creator of DMF, Lindi Duesenberg

A New York State of Mind

NYC Empire State Building 1

I have always dreamed of living in a big city and this trip seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a taste. I will be in New York City from now until the beginning of December.

I have quickly learned some of the rules to big city living. The toughest for me has been to quit smiling at strangers on the street. I can’t help it, I am a friendly lady. It turns out that those smiles here are more of an invitation to interact than they are at home. I have successfully wiped the smile from my face but I didn’t throw it away because I am planning on smiling at strangers again after my departure.

I have had the opportunity to catch up with some amazing people with hopes to catch up with even more. Some of my favorite people live here and being in the same city as so many wonderful and supportive people has been very good for my soul.

Working out and healthy eating are still very much at the forefront of my mind, I am taking two separate fitness classes this week and will be excited to share my experiences with you. I am reaching out to various food and fitness professionals and hope to stack the deck with some amazing experiences and some more weight loss!

Chat soon!

NYC Collage Friends 1

I saw a Banksy my first weekend here!

I saw a Banksy my first weekend here!