Finding My Zen

Earlier this year I did something I’ve always wanted to do in a place I’ve never been: a yoga retreat in  Costa Rica! I was so thrilled to go for a number of reasons.

  1. I had never traveled to an exotic, rain forest-y place before and had been longing to do it. My sister went once, years ago, and told me how beautiful and amazing it was to zip line through the tall, tropical trees, spotting monkeys here and there. So, yeah, monkeys.
  2. I know a lot of people who have done yoga retreats and they seem to be stress-free for years on their return. Everything about them screams ‘At peace with myself’ when they return and I was needing that in the worst way.
  3. 99.9% of my trips out of town are for/with family and sometimes work. Yes, I go to Mexico every year. Yes, I go to California multiple times a year. These trips are great, they really are, but they are to the same place in a very comfortable setting. It was time I acted like a 32 year old and went somewhere new and different. This is not to say that I’ve ever had a bad time with my family, just a bit lackluster.
  4. Yoga is a newer hobby/passion/exercise/practice for me that 10 years ago I would have excelled at, but over time, my body is not as flexible. I like to be good at the things I enjoy doing. Two, 2-hour classes a day seemed like the best, most efficient way to improve.
  5. Also, I was in desperate need to clear my head and find my happy place again. Someone close to me had been dealing with addiction and I was letting it affect me and take me to some really dark, terrible places. I had lost my Zen, my patience, my sanity, and I really wanted it all back.
Costa Rica Travel

Heading to Costa Rica!

The trip was amazing and fulfilled everything I was hoping it would. The RAINFOREST is absolutely stunning. Just the exotic sounds constantly coming from it was enough to make me catch my breath frequently. The cicadas were doing their annual noise making, pretty much drowning out any attempt at conversation three times a day. You could set your clock to their schedule. And we did during our yoga practice. By the time we settled into Savasana the bug’s song would be going at full-volume, creating an intense aural pattern that deepened my meditation.

Yoga-ing in the jungle

Yoga-ing in the jungle

When I wasn’t doing yoga or resting in my tent, I was checking out the other amazing things to do in the area. The first adventure we went on was a hike not far from where we were staying. It was guided by one of the gardeners at the retreat and he pointed out flowers and small animals for us. One of my favorites was a blue shrimp in the freshwater stream.

Blue Shrimp in Costa Rica

It was humid and hot, but gorgeous and green. There was a very refreshing waterfall at the end of the trip too.

Waterfall in Costa Rica

Photographer Kristen Cheatwood was kind enough to capture us all in this heaven.

I did end up zip lining, which was so scary, but beautiful. I would like to go again because I was focusing so hard on not scaring myself or running into the poor guy waiting for me, that I didn’t have a chance to really enjoy my surroundings. Being so high up in the trees though, that was an emotion in itself. You could feel the movement of the giants as we each landed on the platforms and hear so many different, unfamiliar sounds around us. The family who owned and operated company was wonderful. Each guy was incredibly nice and obviously loved what they did, and where they lived.

Costa Rica Zip Line

Me being so dainty while zip lining.

The last, & most terrifying, take-off platform.

The last, & most terrifying, take-off platform.

The other adventure I went on was probably my favorite. Four of us went horse back riding up a trail into the jungle where our guide pointed out the super-cool Golden Orb Spider, so named for making beautiful golden webs that can be used to make Kevlar material. To prove it, our guide took a little bit of web, spun it a bit, and had us try to tear through the string. It was impossible. We also saw toucans and a very sleepy monkey hanging in trees. At the end of the trail was a beautiful, secluded waterfall that we had to take a dip in.

Waterfall

Perfect to cool off

My friend Val, a fantastic architect out of Tucson, was kind enough to pose for me.

ValWaterfall

Tree in a Waterfall

After the hike, we took the horses through a field with those beautiful white, soft-looking cows that you see in these parts of the world. This guy was very curious about my horse Colibri and I.

CostaCow

And moo are you?

We ended the ride by galloping on the beach, just like the movies, or a cheesy cliche. It was amazing.

OntheBeach

That’s my way-too-excited face.

That day, I skipped the afternoon yoga class while Kristin {photographer extraordinaire} and I hung out at the little cantina and learned more about the locale. I felt more alive and empowered that day than I had in a long time. I was nervous about the horse back riding because of the galloping that I knew was coming. But I did it, and I did it very well, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself.

There were only two more days of this amazing trip, and they were equally eye opening and special. I spent time in town with an old friend and we talked about everything, and that night I welcomed the evening yoga class to focus inwardly. Dinner was delicious as usual, and the evening was left for us all to talk about our wonderful experiences, what we had learned and what the future held for us.

CostaDinenr

The dining room

The trip home was long and arduous, as it always is when traveling to and from Sun Valley, but it gave me time to reflect on what I had learned and experienced, and how I wanted to live my life from that moment on. I still do yoga, when I can, and have recently gotten back into CrossFit. I try to not let the little things get to me and to not judge others so harshly.

My life is still complicated, but thankfully not nearly as much as before this life-changing trip. Knowing that I have the ability to find calm and peace in the chaos that can be around me makes life that much easier. Namaste bitches, and thank you Beth, Patrick & Carling for the unforgettable experience.

Setting My Intentions

In the first half of almost any yoga class, the instructor asks the class to set their intentions of their practice for the day. I’ve always let that part of class go one in ear and out the other, throwing it out to the Universe if anything. What do I need to set an intention for? I’m just there to stretch and take a nap at the end {thank you Corpse Pose}.

But the other day at Gather Yoga Studio, I realized I had an intention to set.

First, what is an intention? It is not a goal. According to YogaJournal, a goal is an attainable thing, act or outcome. I have plenty of goals that I have set and some that I’ve even accomplished! {Sorry laundry, you ain’t one of them.} When you set your intention, you are

setting a path or practice that is focused on how you are being in the present moment.

I didn’t even realize I didn’t know exactly what this meant while I was sitting in the cross-legged position at the beginning of class. The understanding of this simple practice came to me immediately and naturally. Like a light bulb going on in my head, I knew at once what my intention was that day and the rest of my days until I felt it had been set completely: my intention was {and still is} to heal myself inside and out. I made a

commitment to align [my] worldly actions with [my] inner values.

For sometime I have been feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually toxic. There have been personal issues in my life that have affected me negatively which in turn have made me into a negative person. I don’t like being a negative person. I can’t be supportive. I can’t be understanding. I can’t be fair to others or myself. And I imagine I can’t be very fun to be around.

Rather than send my intention to the Universe, I kept it for myself that day. I am not focusing so much on how I attain my intention, but rather focusing on when to change my negativity as I feel it coming on. This practice also helps to stay in the present which is important to me as I intend to heal myself inside and out.

Thank you Universe for showing me the meaning of setting my intention.

yoga

The Benefits of Practicing Yoga from the Moment You Leave Class

Thank you Huffington Post for all of your open-minded, educational and entertaining articles, and thank you especially for this easy-to-read infographic touting the benefits of yoga, from beginning to end.

I’m still a proponent for CrossFit in terms of strengthening muscles {which ladies, you MUST do to prevent osteoporosis in your Golden Years!}. I find that including yoga in my exercise regiment {which,  to be completely honest, has been absolutely nothing for the last 2 weeks} improves my performance at the CF gym.


yoga infographic

What do you think about Yoga? Are you practically a yogi master or a young novice? I’m on the novice spectrum but will be attending this AMAZING Costa Rica Yoga Retreat with Yogi Master Beth Stuart to strengthen my practice. And to go to effing Costa Rica of course!

I Love A Good Challenge!

I was introduced to the coolest fitness site yesterday. It’s called 30 Day Fitness Challenges and is just what it sounds like: a site that helps you to better different exercise moves in just 30 days. You can perfect just about any technique from toning your Triceps to busting out Push Ups, from killing it with Burpees to impressing friends with the Splits {which I’ll be starting this evening}. If you aren’t sure how to do an exercise they have a very user-friendly, easy to read Fitness Technique page that covers the basics. The start date isn’t a calendar day so you can start any challenge, any day of the week. It is set up with 1 rest day a week which is important for your body when working out frequently.

I’ve taken on the Ab Challenge because who doesn’t want a flat, toned tummy? {Just because bikini season is over doesn’t mean you want to let it all go.} It’s a simple combination of Situps, Crunches, Leg Raises and Plank holds. By the end of the challenge I’ll be doing 125 situps, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises and a 2 minute plank hold. Here’s my schedule.

30 Day Ab Challenge

Today will be Day 2. Oh yeah! Can’t wait to see that firm stomach!

Flat, Toned Abs

Who’s with me?

My August PR Was Awesome!

Due to the recent, large and disgusting fires in my neck of the woods, my CrossFit gym has been keeping high energy workouts on the back burner. This means we’ve been focusing on strength, which I love. It always makes my day to see how much heavier I’m lifting than the time before when we’re focusing on strength training.

Yesterday rather than do Kelly {which I was really looking forward to because I ♥ ♥ ♥ box jumps!} we worked on a 10 – 1 series of deadlifts. What that means is that we started out with 10 deadlifts at around 55% of our 1 rep max and increased the weight while going down in reps to 1 really heavy lift. {10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1}

My 1RM is/was 145 lbs. which I figured out when I did the CrossFit Total WOD and my partner’s is/was 135 lbs. We worked off of her numbers, starting at a measly 85 pounds. We increased by 10 lbs each round and figured we’d go that route until we could do no more. But do it we did!!

We did it 10 times, each of us reaching a new PR at 175 lbs!!

Happy Dance

Us doing the happy dance.

I could not have been happier! I can’t wait to cross the 200 lbs threshold like some of my CF girls have already done! Next time. . . next time. 🙂

Interested in Paleo? This is Good to Know

I’ve spared *all* of my dear readers the posts of my daily CrossFit workouts so as not to turn you all against me and make you quit reading but I do want to make people aware of this one thing pertaining to going Paleo: You’re going to become exhausted and lose your mind for 1 day and for me, that day was Wednesday.

Every time I do a Paleo challenge I remind myself that during the first week or so there’ll be a point where I’m absolutely exhausted and practically delirious but I forget how bad/weird it is each time. I was abruptly woken up on Wednesday morning with a nose bleed about 30 minutes before my alarm went off. That sucks whenever it happens because you know you’ve just lost that precious half an hour of sleep. However, I felt especially drained and couldn’t shake it all day. In fact, around 11:30 I thought I was going to have to go home and take a nap.

Fast forward a bit later in the day – I felt a little better after I had some tea and made it through the rest of work. I’m in the beginning stages of moving and decided I’d go to the new house and start organizing as I was feeling a little back to normal. About 2 hours go by and I’m feeling that tired, empty feeling again so I pack up and head home to make dinner. It’s almost 9 freaking p.m. I obviously waited too long to eat {what’s new} and was feeling completely loopy. My BF gets home and informs me I’m acting totally weird. I figured that after I ate dinner I’d start to feel better. Not so. I actually had to force myself to eat. My body was detoxing pretty hard and just smelling food was making me more queasy.

Anyways, I wrapped up the evening and went to bed in the hopes that the morning would bring me more energy. And it did. Yesterday I still didn’t feel completely 100%, but I felt much better than the day before. I also decided that even though I wasn’t feeling quite up to par, I was going to work out in the evening regardless. I figured it would help some of those toxins out of my body faster. I took it really, really easy on the workout but it still kicked my butt. You can read about that here {soon} for all the deets. {Ironically, or coincidentally – whatever, the coach asked those participating in the challenge if we had in fact had a day or two of everything I just described plus not being able to talk correctly. Yes! All of those things!}

Today I feel great. I felt well-rested when I woke up. I’ve eaten some really yummy things and made sure I felt full. My mind doesn’t feel as foggy and I’ve been able to concentrate. I’m even a little hyper!

I can hear naysayers right now, “That sounds so dangerous!”. It’s not. My body is detoxing sugars and other no-no’s that I’ve been ingesting for months. It’s not always an easy detox and honestly, it shouldn’t be. You can really feel yourself becoming healthier as the bad shit leaves your system. I’m just glad my crash came and went so fast. The first time I did this challenge I felt that way everyday for about 2 weeks so I was pretty healthy to begin with this time around. As my sweet young man reminded me yesterday, you just have to take it easy to let your body get better. 🙂

Oh Tomorrow

Tuesday is day 1 of 30 days of eating Pale/Zone. It’s going to be a struggle at first {because it always is} but will get better as time goes on. I won’t be boring but here’s a picture of what my groceries are going to look like for a while.

Groceries

Today since it’s Memorial Day the WOD at the gym was Murph which is a hero WOD in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. Sadly, there are a lot of hero WODS to choose from but this one is the gnarliest in my opinion. It’s a 1 mile run followed by 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats and finished with another 1 mile run. I used a big band for the pull ups and did the push ups on my knees. My time, which I am extremely proud of, was 58:51, under an hour!! I dedicated this workout to my Grandfather, a WWII vet {god, probably one of the few left}, not that he would know what that means. 😉

This particular workout is to be done in your own time, scaled however you want. It’s for remembering those who have fought for us in the past, continue to fight for us and will fight for us in the future.

And don’t forget, if you’re interested in following me throughout this challenge check out Paleo Challenge Numero 5 to learn all about the ups and downs, successes and failures, recipes, workouts, etc. Ta ta. 🙂