Life Lessons from Maya Angelou

Awhile back when Maya Angelou passed away, I saved an article called “21 Life Lessons from Maya Angelou.”  Today, as I was looking through some post ideas, I stumbled upon it.  July has been quite the transitional month for me, so a little reminder of some life lessons should be excellent.

It is Marvelous Monday, after all.  I’m linking up with Katie.

I picked out some of the lessons that most strongly resonated with me.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”

Holy cow, do I need to remember this one!  I have been working hard to follow this idea.  I try not to complain too much (although, I admit, I do spill it out on my fiance and sister in law every once in awhile).  The real effort for me is also underlined.  When something is bothering me, I really try to take a step back and ask myself if there is anything I can do to make a change.  If there is, I try to do it.  If not, I need to reframe my thinking and find a way to let it go (or at least deal with it).

“I did what I knew…. When I knew better, I did better.”

This quote is so simple, yet it speaks volumes.  I have encountered this in soooooo many stages of my life.

  • Running my first 5K, and improving from there.

5K finish

  • Choosing friends that may not have appreciated or accepted me, and learning to move away from those people later’
  • Allowing my fear of flying to keep me away from amazing views like this, and then deciding to bite the bullet and travel!
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  • Running too hard in marathon training until I injured myself, then having to lay off much more than I wanted to.
  • Teaching my first yoga class and trying to be someone else.  Now, I have to be myself!

 

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

Yes, even my messy hair is enough. Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Yes, even my messy hair is enough.
Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

This is something I am constantly trying to remember in my big career change.

I know that people, even those closest to me, have judged my decision and even maybe bashed it behind my back.  At first, it bugged me a little.  Now, I see it totally differently.  I know that what I am doing is the right thing for me.  Whatever people may think about it doesn’t matter.  I am working hard to be successful and do what makes me happy, I have a fiance who backs me 100% in this, and that is all I need.

Do any of these lessons resonate with you?  Tell me your story!

Wedding Excitement Part 1: The Proposal

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

As you may have seen in my past posts, I am engaged.  Invitations are in the mail, and this thing is getting real!  Our wedding is only 2 months away!

So, I thought it might be fun to take some time every once in awhile to give a little insight into the wedding prep and all that good stuff.  I figured I would start at the very beginning–the proposal.

Ring

Last November, we went on a little weekend trip with Danny’s brother and his wife, Danny’s parents, and some friends of theirs.  We went to Starved Rock State Park and stayed at the lodge there.  We got in a little late Friday night, spent some time with the family, and headed back to our rooms to prepare for the next day.

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I was completely oblivious, but he told the whole family that night that he was going to pop the question.

In the morning, we ate some breakfast and prepared to go for a little bit of a hike.  In retrospect, it made sense that Danny’s sister-in-law was distracting me with arm wrestling contests, since Danny was talking to the front desk people about the best place to propose on the trails.

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We headed out to the trails and did some hiking.  We ended up making a little bit of a loop, so Danny asked if I wanted to try to take a picture out on this cool ledge.

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I thought my sister-in-law would be joining us, but she was hanging back.  This confused me a little, as she would typically be the first one to jump out on that ledge.  But, I shrugged it off, took the picture, and turned to head back to the steps.  Then, Danny grabbed my hand.

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We were so lucky to have his family with us, so we got this amazing picture that his brother took on his phone.

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The funniest part was, when I realized what was about to happen, I half-shouted, “Are you seriously doing this right now?!?”  We laugh now, but it made Danny nervous.  I really was just in disbelief, but it totally sounded like he didn’t pick a good time, haha.

For the rest of the day, we did a little more hiking, went out to lunch and dinner, and did a lot of nice celebrating with family and friends.  It was a super special day that I will never forget!

Have you ever been to Starved Rock?

Engaged/married people: Where did you get engaged?

Fitness Classes I Teach

Happy Friday kids!  I can’t believe we are already looking at the end of July.  Next week is my LAST WEEK of Yoga Teacher Training!  Time sure has flown.

Now that I’ve truly gotten my feet wet in this new career of mine, I thought it would be nice to give a little insight into the classes I teach and how I prepare for them.

HIIT Core + Core Strength

This is the first class I taught, and it is definitely fun.  The ladies I get in the class so far are “regulars” and are super sweet!

Typically, I run this class like so:

  • Warm up- about 10 minutes, starting with cardio and working into abs
  • Abs section- either a timed HIIT set/tabata, or a more traditional strength set for about 10-15 minutes
  • Cardio/full body section- timed intervals for about 10 minutes
  • Cool down- yoga-inspired stretching for a little less than 10 minutes

Ashtanga Intermediate

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

The Ashtanga system is the focus of my Yoga Teacher Training.  My instructor is great, and she has a lot of faith in me.  I started teaching this class in my first week of training!

I follow the Ashtanga primary sequence for this class, but I skip some postures based on the group I get that evening and time constraints.  It is fun in a totally different way from HIIT, as it is much more quiet and mellow, but I find it extremely rewarding.

Yoga Sculpt

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Earlier this week (or maybe it was over the weekend?  It’s all starting to blend together these days), I shared some ideas for fusing yoga and strength training.  This is really the focus of this class.  I take traditional yoga poses and modify them to include weights or a little more intense strengthening moves.

For last week’s class, I followed the Ashtanga sequence but modified postures.  This week, I am working with some of my own designs of flows.  Here is one that I put together today:

  • Samisthiti
  • Arms up
  • Fold forward
  • Look up and lengthen deadlift
  • Chataranga hold
  • Up Dog
  • Down Dog
  • High lunge, torso forward, grab weights
    • Lateral raise x5
    • Front raise x5
    • Rows x5
    • Bent-arm lateral raise x5
  • Up into full high/crescent lunge, tricep kickbacks x10
  • Windmill down to pushup, drop weights, hold chataranga
  • Up Dog
  • Down Dog
  • Repeat High Lunge with other leg
  • Jump through to stand
  • Look up and lengthen deadlift
  • Fold forward
  • All the way up, hands to sky
  • Samisthiti

Looked nearly identical to this yesterday…

Virtual high-five to the person who can guess which one in the Ashtanga photo is me!  (Little sisters need not guess, haha)

What is your favorite fitness class?

 

 

Four Books I Love

Hey there!  We are going to take a slight break from the norm to continue my work through the 10-Day You Challenge (which, for me, has become the 10+ Week Challenge, haha) that I found on PB Fingers.

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It has been a wild and crazy week, and I am discouraged, to say the least.  But I like to keep things positive here on the blog, so I am especially excited to share something that brings me a lot of positivity…books!

Four books seems like nothing to me, so I am going to just choose four that stick out to me.  There won’t be much rhyme or reason.  :)

1. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman


I read this book not long after we got engaged, and I thought it was so interested!  Not only did a learn more about how to better interact with my fiance, but I learned a lot about myself and my needs in the process.  It was a really interesting, and quick, read with a lot of positives in my life afterward.

2. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick


This is the first, and only, book I have “read” completely via the audiobook.  I got a free trial to Audible around the time of the marathon last fall and downloaded the book to have on tap in case I needed a distraction while running.  I only listened to the book for about an hour, but I ended up listening to it a bunch of other times: while cleaning, driving, working out, etc.  The book is almost painful at times, since you feel so bad for the speaker, but it really draws you in.  I haven’t seen the movie yet, but it is definitely on my list.

3. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead


This choice came from my school teaching career, so it is a book intended for young adults.  However, young adult books are some of my favorites; you can really get lost in them.  When You Reach Me was recommended to me by another teacher.  This teacher’s style was much different than mine, so I didn’t expect to like it.  I tried it anyway and LOVED it!  It has so many interesting twists and turns, and it is one of those books that all the little pieces tie together in the end and make you say “Ooooooh, I get it!”  Plus, the Kindle edition is only $4, so you really can’t go wrong.

4. A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron


If you are a dog/animal lover, this is a must-read.  Like seriously.  If you stop reading this post now, I will forgive you.  :)

This book follows the lives of 4 dogs.  You hear the stories from the perspective of the dog, which makes it all the more entertaining.  I found myself laughing out loud at some of the “logic” the dog gives for his actions.  The book explores the idea that every dog has a purpose, and, when they discover what it is, they cling to it.  This book is one of the few that can truly make you laugh and cry.  I had to put it down at one point and hug it out with my dog, no lie.

When talking about dogs, one must insert a picture of their adorable fur baby.  It's the law.

When talking about dogs, one must insert a picture of their adorable fur baby. It’s the law.

If you want more book recommendations, check out a post I did awhile back about my favorite motivating fitness books.

Have you read any of these books?  What did you think?

Do you have any book ideas for me?  I’m always looking to add to the to-read list!

Do you have a dog?  Tell me about him/her!  :)

*Book cover photos are Amazon affiliate links.  All opinions and book choices are my own.

How to Fuse Yoga and Strength

To start, let me clarify that yoga is strength, if you really focus on your form.  However, some people like to have more weight training in their workouts, so a yoga-strength fusion can be great.

Over the weekend, I started teaching a Yoga Sculpt class.  To teach it, I went through the Ashtanga poses I’ve been learning and added strength training elements to them.  I thought it was a fun workout, so I thought I’d share some of them with you.

Yoga Sculpt Poses

Down-dog Pulse

Go through a sun salutation (reach up, fold forward, look up and lengthen, jump back to yoga push-up, up-dog, then down-dog).

Please excuse the hair chunk, dog crate, and dog bed.  :)

Please excuse the hair chunk, dog crate, and dog bed. :)

Hold in your down-dog for 5 breaths.  Then, lift your right leg into the air, so it is about parallel to the ground.

Pulse your straight leg into the air with your foot flexed about 15-20 times.  Repeat with the left leg.

Padangustasana Deadlift

At the top of your mat with feet hip with apart and parallel to each other, fold forward to take a hold of your big toes.

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Let go of your toes and take hold of some dumbbells.  Slowly come back up to standing, using your glutes to pull you up.  Make sure to keep a straight back and nearly straight legs (a microbend in your knee is helpful).

Side Angle Shoulder Sculptor

Start at the top of your mat.  Jump out to the right.  Bend your right knee, and place your right hand flat on the ground outside of your right foot.  Sweep your left hand up to make your body take a 45-degree angle to the floor.

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After holding here for a bit, take hold of a dumbbell and rotate your arm up to the same position.  Pulse the back of your hand up toward the ceiling 10 times.  You will probably end up making an EEK face like me, haha.

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Put down your weight, come up to standing, reverse your footing, and repeat on the left side.

Play around with adding some of these poses to your workout, and let me know what you think.  I hope these poses help you have a marvelous Monday!

As always, thanks to Katie for hosting the link-up!

Which do you prefer, yoga or traditional strength training?  Why?

Product Review: A Better-for-You Protein Powder

If you read back when I discussed some of my food sensitivities (I guess “some” isn’t the right word, because there are a LOT), you know that I have a fairly limited list of options for what to eat. When I started following the FODMAP diet, I noticed right away that my stamina and intensity in my workouts dropped dramatically.

Around when I started eating differently...one of my favorite pictures of us, but I masked my hangry-ness well.  :)

Around when I started eating differently…one of my favorite pictures of us, but I masked my hangry-ness well. :)

I sort of chalked the issue with my workouts up to lack of protein, or at least proper post-workout nutrition.  Danny is a big protein shake kind of guy, but his protein powder had several no-no ingredients for me.  Not to mention, that stuff does NOT taste, or smell, good at all. So, I did some research into more natural protein powders and came upon Nutribiotic.  I decided to give their vanilla brown rice protein powder a try, and I ended up loving it!  Their brand is the only protein powder I have used since I started with this one. Nutribiotic was kind enough to send me a container of my favorite stuff, along with some samples of the chocolate and mixed berry flavors! I tried the chocolate on its own mixed with almond milk in a shaker bottle.  It was great!  Danny is a chocolate protein powder fan, and I typically gravate toward vanilla.  This chocolate flavor didn’t have that nasty synthetic flavor that I feel like many of the products like it have.  I still have one more packet, and I am going to save it for when I need a chocolate fix.  :) I have tried both the mixed berry packets I got, but they weren’t quite as good as the vanilla and chocolate flavors.  I completely chalk this one up to personal preference, though, as I typically prefer creamy flavors over fruity. I know there are a lot of protein products out there, but here is what I love about Nutribiotic that makes me stick with their products:

  • They are affordable!  I just did a quick search of prices, and a 3-lb. container (aka HUGE) will run you $28.  That’s a steal for the regular stuff, let alone the product made for people with allergies and sensitivities (which is no cheap thing to deal with, I must say).
  • They keep it simple.  Each of the products I have mentioned have only three or four ingredients.  Try finding that on some of the competitors.
  • They taste really good!  None of that nasty synthetic taste.

There are some other great things to know about these products.

  • They work best when mixed with milk, not water.  Maybe this one is personal preference again, but I have tried a couple of times with water and couldn’t finish.  In milk, however, I am loving it!
  • The texture will require a little bit of getting used to.  Since these powders are made from brown rice, they don’t dissolve completely in liquid.  I never have a problem with it settling, though (maybe it’s because I chug it down too fast, haha).  It’s not bad, just different.  So, don’t expect the typical.
  • Ordering online is your best bet.  When I’ve looked for this product in stores, I have had to pay a pretty penny.  Deals online are WAY better.
  • Nutribiotic offers lots of other natural products including hair care and personal care items and vitamins/minerals.
  • Nutribiotic has excellent customer service.  This quote came directly from the company:  “we guarantee our products 100% and anytime that you are not completely satisfied with our products, you may return them to where you bought them for a full refund, credit, or replacement. In turn, we are happy to credit the store for the product.”

Post-teaching shake

Post-teaching shake

As a little bonus, Nutribiotic shares some recipes on their website.  I will be trying the Banana Cream recipe very soon, probably tonight, haha.  I need a little break from my norm:

  • A handful or two of frozen strawberries (fresh is even better, just not as convenient)
  • A banana (frozen is better too, but I usually forget to freeze them…bananas don’t last long in our house)
  • A handful of GF oats
  • 1T vanilla protein powder
  • 1T flax seed meal
  • 1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • Almond milk (as much as makes me hit the consistency I’m looking for)

Any smoothie recipe ideas to share?

Has anyone tried Nutribiotic products?

*Products were donated to me by Nutribiotic.  Photos of products are Amazon affiliate links.  All opinions are my own.

The Best Compliment I Could Have Gotten

…at least in my yoga teaching so far.  :)

Last night, I taught my 3rd ever Ashtanga class.

If you read about the first time around, it was not pretty.  There were three regulars in the class, who have been practicing Ashtanga pretty regular for a year and a half.  At this point, I had only practiced three times.  So, as soon as I made a mistake and they corrected me, my confidence faltered, and I sort of fell apart.

Yeah…should’ve looked it up first.

I was relatively certain that those three would not be back if my name was on the schedule.

Well, last night, one of them came.  I felt really good about the class; I kept my confidence and was myself.  I tried not to worry too much about what she thought; I focused more on the cues she needed (and the rest of the class, of course).

After class, she came up to me and said, “You’ve had quite a week.”  I smiled, then she went on to say, “That was a great class, a really great class.”

I wanted to jump up and down, but I just thanked her (probably too many times) and made sure she knew how much her comment meant to me.

Another sweaty, but happy, selfie.  Please excuse the weird hair situation.

Another sweaty, but happy, selfie. Please excuse the weird hair situation.

Today, I was telling my YTT instructor (this student’s typical teacher) about it, and she was so excited for me.  She pointed out that this particular student does not give out compliments freely.  She told me that even for her it took a long time for her to feel like she had “won her over.”

On a day that I was feeling a little discouraged about myself as a yogi, let alone an instructor, this compliment really turned my day around.

What is the last compliment that really changed your day?

Can’ts into Cans: My Yoga Body

It’s been awhile since I did a Can’ts into Cans series post!  I figured now is a great time, as I am a week and a half in to yoga teacher training.  Let me tell you, 1 1/2- 2 hours of intense yoga per day is no joke!

With my practice jumping from occasional to six days a week, I have noticed some significant changes in what my body can do already.

Pre-yoga teaching...this is a better picture than after.  If you've seen my sweaty selfie, you get it.

Pre-yoga teaching…this is a better picture than after. If you’ve seen my sweaty selfie, you get it.

1. Forward fold

As ridiculous as it sounds, I thought my runner hamstrings would just never loosen up enough to truly touch my toes.  It only took a couple of days of practicing Ashtanga for me to get there.  Now, I get a little further in every day, and I know that I will get to the “full” posture if I don’t give up!

2. Marichyasana

 

Another posture I never thought I would get into.  Now, I can tell you that mine doesn’t look nearly as pretty as Kino’s, I have to struggle to get my finger tips to clasp, but it is so exciting to be there!  I’m looking forward to continuing to deepen in this one!

(Side note: If you’ve never seen Kino MacGregor’s videos, click around!  She is amazing!)

3. Headstand

This posture is one I’ve always been a little afraid to try.  One day, though, my teacher helped me get up and try to hold.  The next day, continued to be a struggle.  The day after that, I got up by myself.  At this point, my headstand doesn’t last long on it’s own, and I definitely need the wall to support me.  But, again, I’m looking forward to seeing it progress!

It’s truly amazing what the body can do with practice and dedication.  I’m only a third of the way through my teacher training, and I can’t wait to update you on my can’ts that become cans through the rest of the process!

Any yogis out there?  What pose did you think you would never get into, but you finally did?

 

My Yoga Clothes Shopping Spree

Happy Monday, ya’ll! I’m linking up on Katie’s Marvelous Monday today. This weekend was rather uneventful, as I was wiped out from yoga training all week. Friday, though, I made sure to have date night with my favorite guy.

Why do the pictures get all fuzzy when you flip the iPhone camera?  Grr

Why do the pictures get all fuzzy when you flip the iPhone camera? Grr

Saturday, he headed off to a bachelor party, and I was lay-zee!  I did a little blog work, read even littler of my personal trainer textbook, and read a lot of my for-fun book back in bed.  It was pretty delightful. That afternoon, I had some quality time with the sister-in-law (to be, but whatever).  She is basically the queen of shopping, so she and I went to Marshalls, as I needed some more yoga clothes badly.  Twelve hours of yoga and three classes to teach last week really wore out my fitness wardrobe! So, I thought I’d share some of my finds.  I must say, I nailed it.

Zone Training Yoga Towel: $12.99

The one I bought is lavendar.  I was going to just get by with towels from home, but the SIL convinced me that this towel was more professional.  She’s a persuasive lady.

Sweet Romeo Striped Sweater: $10 (on clearance)

Weird arm placement...

Weird arm placement…

This sweater will be the perfect cover-up when it starts getting chilly.  It can work for more than just yoga as well.  At ten bucks, I really couldn’t say no.

Balance Collection by Marika teal tank, $9.99

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I LOVE this brand!  The material is such a great combination of soft and moisture wicking.  It’s so comfortable and functional.  The pattern on this one is great too.

Reebok graphic tank, $12.99

My wedding colors!

My wedding colors!

This tank is totally adorable.  I may have to hold off on it for non-workout things, as it might be too cute to put on my sweaty self.  :)

Marika Tek capris, $14.99

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These capris are this great material called sanded dri-wik.  They feel almost like a soft, cozy t-shirt, but they’re dri-wick.  I haven’t worn them in action yet, but they seem awesome.  I did goof and bought them in a size too big, but wore them to training today and they were fine.  Just a little saggy in the waist, but nothing crazy.

Balance Collection by Marika striped tank, $9.99

(The picture is not cooperating with me, so I am giving up and having you use your imagination.  :))

I’m really drawn to stripes for some reason.  So, this tank was a given.  I’m wearing it to teach HIIT tonight, so that should be a good sweat-test.  It also has a hot pink hem on the seams, which makes for a cute little pop of color.

Avia sports bra, $9.99

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I was looking for a bra with thinner straps, as most of my bras are for higher-impact workouts and, therefore, have thick straps.  So, this one was the perfect price and had the perfect straps.  When I tried it on at home, it fit like a glove.  So perfectly.  Tomorrow, it will get the true yoga test, but I am confident that I will be going back on the hunt for more of these bras.  Oh yeah, it has removable pads, which I promptly took out.  But they’re there if you want them.

Reebok Yoga Tank, $12.99

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I think this one is pretty self explanatory.  I wore this one for adjustments/modifications class after practice.  The knot in the back was a little tricky at times.  So, it might be a non-yoga top.  We shall see. Aside from this awesome stuff, I bought some PJs and flip flops.  It was a pretty epic shopping experience.

What is your favorite brand of workout clothes?

If you don’t have a favorite brand, where do you buy your workout clothes from?  

*The first link is an affiliate, but all others are “normal.”  All opinions and choices are my own.*

Five Foods

It’s been awhile since I took a minute to continue this little survey-ish thing I found on PB Fingers.

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If memory serves me correctly, I’m on to five foods.  So, here we go!

1. Almond butter

There are few foods in the world that I would rather have than almond (or peanut) butter.  If my breakfast doesn’t involve it, I am likely to be hungry soon.  Unfortunately Lucky for me, my dietary restrictions only let me have one serving a day.  If not, I can definitely feel that my stomach is not thrilled.

2. Carrot cake

This is probably my all time favorite food ever.  A restaurant near some of my family has gluten free carrot cake, and I pretty much freaked out when I saw it on the menu.  If it wasn’t a bit far away for most of my favorite people, I would be having my party there for the big 3-0 coming up!

3. My favorite gluten free pizza

At the restaurant where we had my bridal shower, the chef “knows” me from my pizza order.  Gluten free pizza with brisket, cheddar, and sliced tomato.  Last night, Danny and I went there for date night, and I switched it up.  It just wasn’t the same.

Why do the pictures get all fuzzy when you flip the iPhone camera?  Grr

Why do the pictures get all fuzzy when you flip the iPhone camera? Grr

4. Bananas

Pretty much the best fruit ever.  The riper (more ripe?), the better.

5. Smoothies

These things have been a lifesaver after our intense yoga practices this week.  I finally found a mix that fills me up:

  • Frozen strawberries
  • Banana (preferably frozen, but I have been forgetting, so fresh works too)
  • Flax seed
  • GF oats
  • Protein powder (I use Nutribiotics Vanilla Rice Protein and love it…reviewing it here soon!)
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Almond milk

What are some of YOUR favorite foods?