Life

Pensive reformer shot

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london-olympic-logo

Excellence. Respect. Friendship. Those are the 3 Olympic values, and three of the reasons I love the Olympics so much. For 16 days every two years, we get to watch excellence from the athletes, as they show respect for their sport, and build friendships with people they may not have met otherwise. For 16 days, there is unity in this crazy world we live in. For 16 days, I get lost in something that is bigger than myself, and I truly enjoy it.

The London Olympics had their closing ceremonies on Sunday, and while it’s been nice getting to bed before midnight, I was sad to say goodbye. The past two weeks were filled with lots of celebratory tears, excitement, and a little bit of anxiety. I covered my eyes, held my breath, and cheered the athletes along from my living room. I even stood on my couch and ran with Allyson Felix towards her gold medal in a race she refers to as her baby.

I get competition. I was an athlete growing up, spending most of my childhood in a gymnasium or on a diving board. But at the end of the day, I didn’t have the commitment it took to be an Olympic athlete. By the time college rolled around, I felt that I had given much of my childhood to that point, to my sports. And decided to leave it behind. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss it. Over the years, I’ve had many dreams that I still dive.

I’ve always loved the Olympics, however I believe they have meant different things to me at different points in my life. When I was little I thought maybe I could be like Nadia Comaneci and score a perfect 10. Now in my 30’s, I enjoy being a spectator and cheering everyone on. I know how much work goes in to being a high school athlete, and that’s worlds away from being an Olympic athlete. I remember the joy of winning, and I know the disappointment when things don’t work out the way you had hoped.

What draws me back every two years, is the desire to be inspired by athletes from around the world. People like Oscar Pistorius, because he defied the odds, running as a double amputee, the U.S. swimmers, who jointly brought home 31 medals, the Jamaican men going 1,2,3 in the 200 m, and Kirani James winning the first medal ever for Grenada. Just thinking about it all still gives me chills.

As one of the broadcasters said during the closing ceremonies about the athletes, “they have been living in fantasy land and now it’s time to get back to real life land”. For some more than others, they may be able to draw out the fantasy land. But for me, it’s time to get back to focusing on my life. I’d like to thank all the Olympic athletes for reminding me you can do anything you put your mind to.

What do the Olympics mean to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

stockhealth

A few weeks ago I completed a 3-week cleanse. I didn’t do it to lose weight, but to get myself back on track with eating healthy. As much as I love food that’s good for you, I also love chocolate, fries, and it’s pretty easy for me to finish a bag of pita chips in two days. So, after indulging myself a little too much with my favorite unhealthy treats, I decided I needed to press the restart button. What better way to do that than with a cleanse.

After the 21 days were over, the thing I noticed most was that I didn’t feel sluggish. Without that sluggish feeling, I feel like I have more energy to get things done. I’m also happy to say that I’ve picked up healthier eating habits, which is exactly what I set out to do.

For anyone considering doing a cleanse, below are 9 realizations and tips I thought I’d share:

1. Pick a cleanse that works for you. The reason I chose Clearvite-SF, which was recommended to me by my chiropractor/nutritionist office, is because I was able to eat full meals and snacks the whole time. Juice cleanses have never appealed to me because if I go a few hours with no food, I can’t function. But I have plenty of friends that don’t need to eat as often as I do. During my research phase I found this website, Green Lemonade, pretty interesting and helpful.

2. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of dishes I accumulated throughout the day, but made sure I cleaned them all before going to bed. Since I needed to use some of them every day, using the dishwasher (the most eco-friendly way to wash dishes) wasn’t an option. So I looked up ways to be eco-friendly with hand washing dishes and found this site helpful www.tipsonhomeandstyle.com/home/the-greenest-way-to-hand-wash-your-dishes.

3. Something I wasn’t expecting was the judgement I got from people when I told them I was doing a cleanse. I couldn’t really figure out why it offended people so much. In turn I started defending myself, for something that needed no defending. I was eating healthy for 3 weeks. After a few days, I realized less was more in my explanation.

4. The weekdays, not weekends, were much easier for me to stay on track with my meals, which surprised me. But what I realized was that there was much more structure to my workdays. The weekends were a free for all, and I would forget to eat or not drink enough water throughout the day.

5. For one week of the cleanse I had to cut out all meat and fish. This concerned me the most before I started, as I eat turkey or chicken almost every day. I survived though, and it wasn’t the end of the world. It made me realize that I don’t need to eat meat every day. I have found this site (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=158) helpful in giving me other ideas for ways to get enough protein.

6. Even though my reason for the cleanse had nothing to do with weight loss, I did end up losing a few pounds. For those looking to lose weight, remember a big part is what you eat. You don’t necessarily have to do a cleanse to drop the lbs. Just be more mindful of the foods you are eating.

7. When I decided to do this, I thought I’d save so much money from not drinking and going out to eat. I definitely didn’t spend as much as I usually do, but I spent more than expected. Buying organic and only shopping at Whole Foods certainly didn’t help. However, there are ways to be more frugal, and this article can shed some light on that as well as ideas on smart food shopping http://www.MindBodyGreen.com/0-4570/Top-10-Tips-for-Food-Shopping.html. I just wish I found it sooner.

8. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I wasn’t worried about a caffeine withdrawal. When I started having headaches I was a bit perplexed. I quickly realized it was from sugar withdrawal, but luckily it only lasted a day or two.

9. Last but not least, it’s important to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. It helps to flush out toxins, and keep you hydrated. This article goes into detail on why hydration is important www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283. It’s nothing new, but it’s good to be reminded.

 

inspire_1006a

Do you find it challenging to be inspired as a Pilates teacher? When I was going through my Pilates certification program, I wasn’t sure I’d make it out the other end successfully. There were moments that I totally doubted my ability, especially after a lesson with a teacher who I admired and respected. Each one was unique, yet the same. As they say in Thailand, “same same but different”. They were all knowledgeable, challenging, present, and passionate about Pilates. In those moments of doubt, I couldn’t imagine being like them. However, they became my inspiration for the teacher I would strive to be.

In order to get there, I realized a few things. To increase my knowledge, I would have to take lessons on a regular basis because if you don’t know how an exercise feels in your body, it’s very challenging to teach it successfully to someone else. A co-worker told me that Romana used to say “you teach a body from you own body.”

Along with lessons I knew I’d need to seek out continuing education courses as you can only learn so much in 9 months. And I began to teach as much as I could for practice. Bob Liekens, one of my mentors, says that the real learning begins once your certified. There is no better way to become familiar with bodies than working with them. Studying anatomy won’t hurt either.

My teachers all managed to challenge me in a different way. Some moved me at a quick pace, while others were a bit more deliberate. They all had the ability to make slight adjustments that would drastically change how an exercise felt. No matter how they chose to teach the exercises, they were all very present. Nothing seemed to distract them, no chit chat was allowed, and there was always a plan. Most of all, it was so apparent to me how passionate they all were about what they did. I always left with a deeper appreciation of the method.

While my passion for Pilates has never gone away, my love for it has slipped at times. But like any relationship, I’m always able to find my way back. It takes work, and effort though. I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping up with your own Pilates lessons. Make appointments and put them in your calendar. One lesson will give you ideas that could last weeks. If you think your clients are bored, it’s usually because you are bored. After your lesson, jot down some notes about new things you did. I have pages of notes I’ve taken since my certification 9 years ago. Even as a teacher trainer, I still do it.

Inspiration is all around you, in the teachers you take lessons from, and even the clients you work with. On days you feel less inspired, think about the teachers who helped lead you to Pilates. You chose this path for a reason. Remember that inspiration is endless.

 

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I love January, the beginning of a new year, and a time for reflection. While I’ll forever live in the world of semesters where September is the start of a new year, January is always the time I look at my life, make resolutions, and feel excited about it all. I’ve learned to make my resolutions very specific, and I try to cover different areas of my life like work, health, and relationships. However, even with all my good intentions, I let life get in the way. One day goes by then another, and all of a sudden months have passed without me working towards most of my goals. It happens every year.

In my quest to break this pattern, a friend suggested I check out Livifi, an i-phone app (also available on the web) that helps people set and track goals related to mind, body, and relationships. My curiosity was peaked, first because it sounded exactly like something that could help me, and second because the CEO & Co-founder Lowell Winer, came up with the idea while fighting cancer. I’m always motivated by inspirational stories. With endless questions bouncing around in my head, I decided to call up Lowell and get the 411, not only about the company, but also about his story

In 2006 Lowell was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, a type of blood cancer. Treatments like chemo, stem cell transplants, radiation, and multiple drug trials failed to show positive results. When told he may have only 2 years to live he made the decision that he wasn’t going to accept the status quo, and wanted to be proactive about how he chose to live, which was as healthy and happy as possible. This path helped him discover yoga, become a vegetarian, start meditating, and stop drinking, and also to eat better, get more sleep, and spend more time with family and friends.

Then in 2010 he began taking a drug that on average was giving people 6-7 months of remission. 18 months later he is still in remission himself, and contributes this greatly to the lifestyle changes he made along the way. While Lowell is slowly recovering from his treatments, he has learned to live with the uncertainty about whether the cancer will return, however he says, “I’m not sure I would change anything—cancer has been my guru.”

On Lowell’s path to become a healthier and happier person it wasn’t enough for him to accept that all he had done was good for him. He wanted to know the how and why. And he wanted other people to as well. What came from all his research was the idea of a science based life coach in your hands, to help you take strides to healthy living. Something to keep you accountable, help to create healthy habits, and improve your health and well-being. In his quest to help himself and other people, Livifi was born.

If you’re an i-phone user you can get the app for $4.99. I recommend checking out the reviews on i-tunes. For such a new company, they’re very impressive. The web version is in beta (for the computer illiterate like me that means it’s new and still in testing, and free for now). The site is easy to use with plenty of instructions. There are 40 plus science-based healthy behaviors to choose from for your body, mind, and relationships. Each behavior has a summary of how to achieve your goal, why it’s important, and references. The goals will default to daily or weekly based on scientific research, however you have the ability to change them depending on your needs.

Remember to set realistic goals for yourself so as not to get too overwhelmed or feel defeated. Livifi has plans to add a social feature down the road because according to Lowell, we are social creatures and enjoy the encouragement and support of others as well as the ability to collaborate with one another. While I don’t have an i-phone yet, I’m excited to use the web version to help me track my goals. This is my first step in breaking my pattern of giving up. I highly recommend getting online to read more about Lowell, the company, and all it has to offer. Make yourself a priority this year.

 

thanksgiving

I think I had been living in LA for a moment, when I had one of those only in LA things happen to me. Or at least in my world it was only in LA. I was walking down the promenade in Santa Monica, on my way to my car after work, when this guy and girl asked me if I wouldn’t mind answering some questions. I figured they wanted money, as most people on the promenade who talk to you do, so I tried to politely get away.

But the girl begged for me to stay by saying I was exactly what they were looking for. Which by the way, was someone dressed in yoga apparel. Not too hard to find in Santa Monica, as I’m pretty sure it’s the yoga capital of America. I was still the one they picked none-the-less. And they quickly told me they were doing one of those people on the street things for Glamour. That seemed pretty harmless, so I stayed.

They asked me a few questions, all forgotten except for one, “What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?” I didn’t even have to think twice about that one. It’s hands down going to my aunt and uncle’s place in Connecticut. My aunt’s an amazing cook, and it’s like walking into Martha Stewart’s house, but possibly even better. My mouth is watering just thinking about her mashed potatoes, stuffing, and apple pie.

The other part of the tradition, and the second part of my answer, is that I still love sitting at the kids’ table-even though I’m 33 (which I was at the time). I sometimes wonder “when do I get to make the jump to the adult table?” But my sister, cousin, and I always have fun catching up, gossiping, and being kids, which I feel like we would have to leave behind if we moved those two feet to the dining room table from our beautifully set folding table.

Seeing as how I haven’t been able to make it home the past 3 Thanksgivings, choosing to fly back for Christmas instead, it’s very possible that the jump has been made without me. I however will always picture Thanksgiving in Connecticut, at the kids’ table. I like the simplicity that goes along with the memory, but just the memory is enough (most of the time). I’m extremely grateful for where I am today, and lucky I have such great friends willing to take me in every year. Of course I miss my aunt’s cooking, and more importantly my family, but they are with me in spirit as I trust I am with them.

 

no-television

The other day I drove past a DirectTV van and thought, “I can’t wait to get cable again.” But then something strange happened as I quickly found myself thinking, “or do I?” For this to make any sense, I should give you a little history with my relationship to tv. Forever, I was the one people would ask what shows to watch and when they were on. My sister at one point even nicknamed me, TVguide. I couldn’t really take offense to it since it was true. I knew when everything, or almost everything, was on. When I didn’t have anything to do, or if I wanted to procrastinate, tv was my go to. So it’s been a bit of a surprise to people who know me, and to myself, that I’ve gone without cable for over a year now. While I’d like to say it was a conscious choice to cut cable out of my life, that’s not really how it’s gone down, at least not until recently.

After living in a house with cable (over 500 channels) that the landlord paid for, I moved into an apartment with a stranger. She wasn’t willing to split cable, which was fine, and I knew the day I moved in that I wouldn’t last long there, which, I didn’t. So I found a great apartment to live in alone, but I had to make some sacrifices for a while, cable being one of them. To be fair, it’s not that I don’t watch any shows at all. I do watch a bit on my computer as well as on my television, through Hulu Plus. But it’s not the same experience, and because of that I’ve found that there are many shows I can live without. Shows I now consider fillers.

What I’ve come to realize, is without all those filler shows, I have a lot more time on my hands. And with all that time I’ve become much more productive. In the past year I’ve read “Anna Karenina,” “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest,” “Wuthering Heights,” “The Help,” “The Paris Wife,” and “The Glass Castle”.  All books I would recommend by the way. Along with reading I’ve become more productive than I’ve ever been with work. I’ve been able to put more focus into the Pilates teacher training I’m involved with. And probably most importantly I’ve learned quite a bit about myself. One thing being that when I didn’t want to deal, I used to just plop myself on my couch, grab the remote, turn on cable, and turn off my mind.

While the decision of cutting out cable may not have initially been what I wanted, it turned out to be what I needed. Now when I don’t want to deal, I have to because there is nothing to distract me. I used to find comfort in watching hours of tv, and now I feel like I’m wasting my time. Something inside me has shifted. Will I ever get cable again? Probably, but I have a feeling it will be a while. I’m enjoying this sense of accomplishment too much right now. Never in a million years did I think I would choose to not have cable.

 

Running

About 3 years into my teaching career, I was living in Boston, and working at a Pilates studio Every Body Pilates, in Belmont. It was clear to me very early on that my time in Boston was limited. I ended up staying for almost 2 years, mainly because of the owner of Every Body Pilates, Kirstin deFrees. I knew that I could learn from her. Besides being a kind and loving boss and friend, she’s an amazing teacher. I remember thinking “I want to teach like she does one day… with her patience and ability to get clients to do what she asked.” In fact, during a review with Kirstin one of her pieces of advice to me was to make sure when I ask a client to do something, that they actually do it. Make their movement effective.

I have never forgotten what Kirstin told me, and I can pinpoint that time as a turning point in my teaching. I credit her for helping me get to where I am today, a teacher trainer for the Equinox Pilates Institute in Los Angeles. I’m in the position to pass on this invaluable piece of advice, as one of my jobs is to make our trainees effective teachers. If you can learn this tool early on in your teaching, it will make you stand out among the many teachers out there. And your clients will stick with you because they will see results. Anyone can teach, but not everyone has the ability or awareness to teach effectively.

What does being an effective teacher actually mean? To me, it means when asking your client to do something, make sure they are actually doing it. It’s the exact advice given to me 5 years ago. Be present as a teacher, follow through with your instructions, and don’t just go on cruise control. In my opinion, there are layers to learning to teach. First you must memorize the information, then you may imitate those you admire and respect, and finally you’ll take what you’ve learned and come into your own as a teacher. This will happen in stages; however, what you can do from the start is guide your clients with effective cueing. Get them into positions where they don’t have the option to not use their muscles. It’s actually a pretty simple concept: Be Present and Aware. Advice that can also be applied to your life.

 

9-11towerlights

I didn’t realize how apropos the timing was for my recent trip to Jackson Hole, WY, until I was there.  I hadn’t been back since I moved a decade ago and memory upon memory came rushing back.  None were quite as strong as the morning of September 11th, 2001, the day that was planned for my going away party.  After a 6 month stint of living in Jackson turned into a 3 year one, I had made the decision to see what life would be like in New York City.  I went to bed on the 10th overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness for  leaving the breathtaking Tetons, but awoke to a much greater sadness,  that in retrospect affected me more than I realized.

At 6:50 am (mountain time) on the 11th I was awoken by the ringing of the house phone.  Assuming it was one of my roommates fishing buddies, I didn’t pick up.  Moments later I heard my name, my door opened, and my other roommate informed me I needed to turn the tv on.  Worry quickly set in and tears appeared before I could even see what was on the screen.  Immediately my worry was confirmed.  The call was from a friend working at the Jackson Hole airport, who remembered that my father worked in one of the twin towers.

It’s hard to explain exactly what I was feeling at that moment I saw smoke coming from the tower.  I do know that I was confused as to what was going on and couldn’t remember what building my father worked in.  Then the second building got hit, and suddenly what building he worked in didn’t matter.  Many calls were made to and from my house, but no one had heard from my father.  I remember thinking that he had to be in his office because on Tuesdays he had an early morning meeting.  Then I thought, okay if he was in the building it looked like the plane hit above where I thought I remembered his office to be, and it seemed likely he could have gotten out.  With that thought I found a sense of calm for a little bit.  Then I watched the first building fall, which at that point I knew was his building.  I went into shock and have to admit  I got a glimpse of the rest of my life without my father present.

Time was moving very slowly, and after what seemed like 4 hours but was probably only 2, I called my uncle, my father’s younger brother, as I wanted to hear a familiar voice.  My mother needed to keep her line open, and I couldn’t reach my brother or sister.  My uncle, in a very calm tone, informed me he had just gotten off the phone with my father, who was okay.  The gravity of the situation was still very much there, but I cried tears of happiness knowing my dad was alive.  And I couldn’t call him fast enough to hear his voice.

About a month after the tragedy, enough time to gain the courage to board a plane, I flew back east.  Life was moving forward again for people, and it was time for me to find a job.  However, my plan of moving into New York City didn’t seem as appealing anymore for many reasons.  Even with the feeling of unity, there was a darkness.  I went on numerous interviews, did a lot of temping, and much more soul searching, coming to the realization that New York City was not the place for me.  It was during this time I made the decision to become a Pilates instructor, because I wanted a job that I loved, not one I thought I should have.  The corporate world was one I thought I had to enter because I went to college, and that was the next step.  It wasn’t until after 9/11 that I realized how short life can be, and how important it is to make the most of it while you are on this earth.  I don’t want to have any regrets, and so far I don’t.