Happy Butt School Vibes

One of my favorite work out classes is Pop Physique. It is hard and gets harder the more you go, but I really enjoy it. I had to take a year hiatus because they hadn't opened a Pop in NYC while we were living there and I genuinely missed it. Now that we are back in CA I can start my addiction back up. And I did just that this week by going to two classes in a row!     I am incredibly sore, but am super happy to be back into my #buttschool routine!

Creating a Meaningful Life: Learning to Meditate

meditationI’ll be honest - meditating this week was frustrating. After sporadically meditating for the last six weeks, I buckled down and did it seven days in a row. That wasn’t hard. I would either wake up and meditate right away, or meditate after my workout. What was discouraging was how hard it was for me to keep my focus during the meditation. This week I gave all my attention solely to using a beginner’s technique of being aware of and counting your breaths. Sounds simple right? Not for me. I learned about this technique after some research on the internet. The idea is to sit or lay down, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Count each breath until you reach 10 and then start over. If a thought pops in your head, start the count over from one. Unfortunately, I would consistently only make it until two or three before some random thought floated in. I would get farther in the count if I visualized what my body and lungs were doing with each breath or if I thought in my head “breathe in, breathe out” with each breath. But concentrating for the entire six minutes (I decided to work my way up to 10 minutes) proved almost impossible. And it was a vicious cycle. I would get angry about my lack of focus, which would make it even harder to focus, which would make me more angry.

A few days ago I re-read the article to try and figure out what I was doing wrong and a sentenced jumped out at me that I hadn’t taken in before. “During your meditation, you may experience feelings of frustration, boredom, fear, anxiety, pain or anger — this is all normal. Acknowledge them, and then let them go…. ‘Your job is to not react,’ he (Todd Goldfarb) says. ‘Your job is to witness the process … and be OK with it.’” (How to Meditate: A Beginner's Guide)I had been obsessed with not letting any thoughts in, but that isn’t realistic. I am human, I have thoughts and I can’t turn them off completely. During my meditation in the days following that realization, I was less hard on myself when my mind wandered. I would acknowledge the thought, sometimes even laugh at the truly weird things that popped in my head when I was not actively thinking, and then send it away and refocus on my breath. I still wasn’t able to focus for an entire six minutes, and getting all the way to 10 was still a struggle, but I was less irritated and kinder to myself which I will consider a win!

So, this week I learned that fixating solely on my breath might not be the best way for me to meditate, at least at this stage in the learning process. I also learned that I prefer laying down to sitting. It is easier for me to relax my entire body when I am laying down and that helps me zero in on my breath. I also learned that while it was hard in general for me to concentrate when I meditated, it was much harder to concentrate when I meditated as soon as I woke up. I thought being half asleep would help me focus because my thoughts hadn’t had a chance to be thought yet, but I was wrong again. My brain felt like it went into overdrive and I couldn’t quiet it down. Meditating after my workout, while I am lying down is my most successful practice of meditation so far.

For the next week I am going to continue focusing on my breath, but I am going to add in listening to a repetitive sound like waves, rain or a gong and see how that goes. I have a sleep machine app that I am going to use to produce various sounds that I think are relaxing or meditative.

Did you try meditating this week? How did it go for you? Any tips you learned during your practice?

My Workout Routine -- Let's Get Healthy!

Working out is a chore for me. Something I have to do to keep my body healthy and active, but not something I enjoy or look forward to doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling I have after I have worked out, but it never lingers with me long enough to make me look forward to the next time I have to work out. The part I do enjoy about a workout is reading about what other people’s workout routines. I love reading the different exercises people do, and the creative ways that people come up with to make working out not such a bore. In case any of you are people who like to read about working out more than you like working, this post is for you! And I will admit, preparing to write this post has helped take my mind off the actual working out, thus making it a lot more enjoyable and bearable than usual.IMG_2577 Consistency  My goal is to workout at least three times a week. It is an easily attainable goal that still makes a difference in my life. I have had periods in my life when I worked out 5-7 times a week. While I really saw a difference in my body when I was working out that much, I couldn’t sustain it. After a few months I would burn out and eventually stop working out altogether. It has been almost a year since I made it my goal to workout at least three times a week and I have been achieving that week after week ever since. It’s the longest I have ever worked out consistently!

The Skeleton  My workout routine has changed a bit here and there in the last year. It began with going to a barre class (what up Pop Physique!) three times a week, morphed into a combo of barre classes and going to the gym, then just going to the gym, and now to working out at home. For the last six months, no matter if I am at the gym or at home, I have followed a similar routine. My routine consists of exercises I learned in my barre classes, exercises I used to do when I was a competitive cheerleader in high school, and exercises I have learned over the years by doing workout videos, working with a personal trainer and watching other people at the gym.

  • Cardio- I do at least 30 minutes of cardio to start. This looks like 30 minutes on the treadmill, elliptical, arc trainer, or most recently running 8 flights of stairs multiple times.
  • Strength Training- I follow cardio with three strength training circuits. Within in these circuits I do 3-4 exercises for each of these areas:
    • Upper body
    • Arms
    • Legs/Glutes
    • Abs

The Exercises  I am going to highlight a few of my favorite exercises, if you want a detailed explanation of my whole routine, let me know. You can also see some of the new things I am trying by checking out my Pinterest board called Let’s Get Healthy.

  • Upper Body
    • Regular plank, forearm plank, and left and right side planks
    • Held for at least 30 seconds each
  • Arms
    • Bicep curls, and shoulder press
    • 15-20 reps
  • Legs/Gluts
    • Squats, and calf raises
    • 20 reps
  • Abs
    • Straight leg crunches and leg lifts
    • At least 20 reps

Cool Down  The most enjoyable part of my whole workout is the cool down and stretching. Once I have done each set of strength training three times, I meditate. I take a few minutes to focus and calm my breath. After meditating, I stretch. Rob and I are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to stretching. Rob believes that it can do more harm than good so he never stretches. He has also been blessed with a very flexible body (he can put his legs behind his head while he sitting!). I believe that stretching is good for you and that it will prevent your body from stiffening too much as we get older. I make sure to stretch each body part that I worked out, but I never push myself to be more flexible. I do each stretch just to the point where it feels good, hold it there for a few seconds and then move on. I do believe that if you push too hard during stretching, you can injure yourself so I am very careful.IMG_2618

Water  I have a water bottle filled with cold water within reach at all points in my workout and I try to drink the whole thing by the time I am done stretching. Staying hydrated is indisputably good for you.

The Future  Despite everything I have said, there are a few workout related activities that I am excited to try.

    • Spotify  Recently Spotify came out with their Spotify Running feature. When you go for a run it will play music that matches your pace. I really actually want a feature that will play music that matches my goal pace. For example if for 3 minutes I want to run at a 5.5mph pace, I’d like a song to play that, if I matched my pace to the song, I’d be running at 5.5mph. Then I could make a playlist for running outside that would force me to change my pace from time to time just by listening to the songs. I prefer running on treadmills for this reason. I push myself to change my pace periodically. When I run outside, I am not good at pushing myself. I will go at one pace the whole time and get bored. But until the feature I dream of becomes a reality, Spotify Running is something I am excited to try.
  • One Song Workouts  On Pinterest I have seen mention of workouts that you can do within in the time frame of one song. This has been intriguing to me and I think I am finally going to give it a try. I pinned a Buzzfeed article that has some examples of songs and workouts if you want to give it a try too!

Now it’s your turn! I want to know what your workout routine looks like!