Balance & Inner Peace – My First Time Doing Yoga

Namaste, downward dog, and the tree position was all I knew about Yoga until this past Saturday when I went to my first ever yoga class with my brother.

Yoga’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while but never had the courage to go on my own for the sole reason of me being a complete and utter newbie. It dawned on me one day though, that duh, my brother does yoga religiously, why don’t I go with him? So that’s what I did – told him I wanted to go and he made it happen. Also, turns out that the place we went to was literally down the street from my condo, so that was a nice bonus.

We registered Friday night for the Saturday 11:30am yoga class; I was nervous but super excited it was finally happening. I had plans to start my Saturday relatively early to get some things done for the blog and around the house but that didn’t end up happening at all, and frankly not even close. I was still eating breakfast when my brother messaged me to say that he was on his way (and my parents live about 10 minutes away from us with no traffic.) And surprise surprise, I was running a little late.

We arrived at the yoga studio (shout out to Barre Life Studio in Oakville for being so friendly and very cute) and quickly completed our paper work. Once we finished that, the receptionist showed me the change room and off we went to enter the softly lit and quiet room. For me, this part was the most intimidating. I had no idea where to put my matt, how to sit while we waited for the instructor, and where to look, but then I just followed my brothers lead and I was good, lol.

After the awkward sitting and wandering eyes, it wasn’t long before the instructor entered the room. Her name was Laura and she was cute and friendly, which helped make it a little less daunting. She had asked the class who was new to yoga (LOL I was the only one who raised my hand) so she said to just do what I can throughout the class – I thought, alrighty then, we’re off to a good start. But Laura talked us through everything and I was able to ease into it lightly.

At first I felt super awkward. I don’t remember what we did initially but I remember feeling weird about my body positioning and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to keep staring at Laura (most people had their eyes closed.) But as awkward as I felt, I pushed through and kept telling myself to embrace it – everyone has to start somewhere. And just like that, after doing some warm up stretches and such, I became more comfortable doing the poses and positions and didn’t feel so bad when I couldn’t. I was there to learn and enjoy my experience. Laura was really good at explaining how to do the different movements and kept reminding us to breathe throughout them. Funny how when you’re doing physical activity, you actually need a reminder to breathe, something so natural to us.

Throughout the class, Laura taught poses and explained how to do them while repeating the instructions if some of us needed it. She also went around the class to ensure we were all doing proper positioning, which I liked and appreciated. If someone doesn’t correct you, how do you know you’re doing it right? One thing she also did was encourage us to hold the poses. She didn’t give us a timely countdown but kept using encouraging phrases like, “You can do this, you’re stronger than you think” which for someone like me who’s mind always gets the best of them, this helped a lot. Laura also said things like, “This is your yoga, treat it how you wish,” which I thought was a nice touch because everyone meditates in different ways.

Although Yoga is a calming activity, I did find myself coming close to laughing when I couldn’t do a movement or when I would fall out of balance. It’s definitely something I need to work on. I genuinely enjoyed doing the different positions, though; I found them intriguing as to what muscles I was stretching and working on. There was this one stretch we did though, I believe called the Pidgeon (?) that stretched my glute muscles, and let me tell you, that was a feeling I’ve never felt before. This was one of the times I almost started laughing because all I could envision were my butt muscles tearing and never being able to sit again, lol. However, quite interesting if I do say so myself. But my tree stance… that one I nailed 😉 but the downward dog? That was hard for me and it was also corrected by Laura.

For the most part, I’d have to say I don’t think I did too bad for my first time. There were definitely moments where I was struggling to keep the position but I altered my stance and continued on with it. I went home feeling good, and had a refreshing sense of calmness, believe it or not. I also went home and showed Shaun my tree stance which I thought was pretty good – he laughed but then tried it himself. I’m glad I went and grateful that my brother took the time to go with me (or me with him) so that I could experience it.

We have tentative plans to go next Saturday again, but until then, Namaste.

The Gym Doesn’t Have to be Your Enemy

Putting aside your gym clothes, making sure your gym days line up with your hair washing days, and trying to balance your work life with your gym life – the worst, am I right?

Going to the gym and getting into a routine can sometimes feel like the most daunting thing ever, trust me, I’ve been there. And I’ll admit it, I’ve been that person who’s bought a gym membership and then completely lost my motivation to continue on with it once the whole, “New Year, New Me” crap dies down. But not this year.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I have been constantly unhappy with the way I look and feel about my body – so much so that it’s time for me to make a change, for real this time. I figured that if I blogged about it and did regular updates as to how my routine and gym-life is going, that it’ll give me that extra something that I’ve been missing.

At first, my goal was to go 3 times during the week and 1 day on the weekend – I felt that for myself and schedule, that would work. I planned on starting on January 2nd (once the hangover was cured) and get started on my new routine. That was until I spoke with someone at work and they suggested that I go everyday – because we all know that that one day off and first day back, absolutely sucks. So, I’ve been doing my best to go everyday and so far…so good.

I’m fortunate to live in a condo and have a gym right underneath me, so there really are no excuses any more.  And although my plan and goal is to go everyday, it’s important to remember that life does happen and sometimes the gym isn’t an option, but I pick up where I left off and get back to it.

So, what do I do when I go, you ask?

Seeing as I’ve just started back up again, I’ve only been doing 20 minute runs with 5 minute cool downs, to start things off. Once I’ve completed my run, I usually do 3 sets of 25 of my favourite muffin-top crusher, Russian Twists. And after that, I do some weights or exercises depending on what I want to work on that day. I try to not plan it out too much, because sometimes I may not feel like doing a certain workout and I don’t like that discouraging feeling and getting down on myself because of it. So I go with what feels right that day, but usually alternate the muscles I’m working on.

I’m super excited to be going on this journey and logging it all here – hopefully there will be some positive updates in the future 😉

Any workouts you wanna share?

My New Gym Routine

Since I can remember, I have always had negative thoughts about my body. Always hating on something, wishing I could change something else, and never being quite fully satisfied with how I appeared.

Growing up, I often felt like the “the bigger one” out of my family members because everyone around me was super slim. Looking back at how I used to see myself, I was absolutely crazy. Being throughly engaged in sports (mainly hockey and soccer) but dabbling into other sports as well, I was the most fit I had ever been. But I remember being in my teens, absolutely dreading my thighs. Dreading.

Fast forward a decade, I am still an active person, playing hockey when I can and running occasionally, I am no longer the size 3 I used to be. I now hover between a size 6 and 8, depending on what brand I’m wearing. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I feel overall, very unhealthy. When I look in the mirror, I feel my teenage self returning in my head, pouring out negative comments about how I look when I’m naked. This is too big, that’s not firm, this needs some work.

So, with some reflection as of late and being as objective as one can be, I’ve decided to get back into shape – better yet, be comfortable in my own skin as a twenty-seven, almost twenty-eight year old woman.

And that’s why I’ve created this gym schedule for myself. I am by no means a fitness trainer, but these are workouts that I know work for me, and ones I know I’m capable of doing. I am approaching this journey lightly, remembering that I’m human and not perfect, leaving little to no room for guilt on this new journey of mine!

Below is my weekly schedule of what I’ve been doing:

Sunday: Off

Monday: 30 minute run, 25 Russian Twists, 25 Squats

Tuesday: 35 minute run, 25 Bicep Curls, 25 Tricep Extensions, 25 Chest Press

Wednesday, 40 minute run, 25 Thigh Curls, 25 Hamstring Curls, 25 Calf Raises

Thursday: 45 minute run

Friday: 50 minute run

Saturday: Off

After each week, I start back at the beginning, but increase my reps by 5. I love working out, but hate the preparing for it process. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it shouldn’t be looked at as a chore, but rather something that makes you feel so much better, both psychically and mentally.

Think of all those endorphins you’re releasing 5 days a week! What’s your favourite exercise to do?

144 Floors Got Me to The Top of The 6ix

On October 23rd, I participated in the CN Tower Climb for United Way – a climb of 1,776 stairs (144 floors) for charity. At first, the idea was brought up very casually amongst some family members and I, and it didn’t seem like it would actually happen. Then when the date got a little closer, we discussed it more and by the end of it, my dad, brother, aunt, cousin, and I were gearing up to climb. Shout out to my dad, because he’s the one who really got the ball started for us. He set up all of our fundraiser pages (you had to donate (or fundraise) $100 for the climb), and before we knew it, the time had come. For this event, I was able to raise $145.

Leading up to the climb, I kept telling myself that I should start running again, or at least go to the gym and hit some weights but that didn’t happen. Instead, I would tell myself that taking the stairs up to our condo would be enough prep – we live on the 6th floor of our building and park in parking level 2, giving me 8 flights of stairs to do every day when I got home from work. Doing this helped, but I was having some serious self-doubt days before.

My boyfriend and I had some of our friends over the night before (not the smartest thing to do seeing that we had to be up by 5:30am the next morning) and I told them I was really nervous for it. Being the great friends they are, they told me I would be fine and do great (along with my boyfriend who had been telling me that for the month leading up to it lol).

That morning, on our way to meet my family at my parents’ house, Shaun and I blasted some music so I could get hyped up, and obviously, it was to my favourite Backstreet Boys songs :P. Once we arrived at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, I was fired up and ready to go. My plan was to take my time, and pace myself – all I wanted to do was be able to complete it. Once I began climbing, though, I put my big girl pants on and began repeating to myself that I could do it. So, I climbed in the slow lane to get started, and once I got my rhythm, I ventured into the fast lane. Toggling between the two, I took advantage of the fast lane when I got bursts of energy, and then ventured to the slow lane when my thighs would need a break. I also didn’t break my climb – I was determined to make it to the top without stopping, even if that meant I went really slow.

But it was around the 125th floor or so, when I looked at my Fitbit and glanced at my time – I was at about 18 minutes. Knowing that there were 144 floors, and that I was so close to getting to the top, I kicked it up a notch and did the rest of the floors in the fast lane. At that point, I decided I could finish with a decent time and that I could complete it around 30 minutes or so. And…I did it! I completed the 144 floors in 25:55! I was beyond proud of myself; it truly was something that felt so good to do and completing it better than I could have imagined. There’s nothing like having a great workout and letting all those endorphins come out to play and all for a good cause!

Each one of my family members had great times, as well – we were all very proud of ourselves, and of each other.

It was such a great experience that I would love to do again, and work to better my time! It was also great doing it with my family – definitely something that made me happy and that I look forward to doing again with them. ♥

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Have you ever pushed yourself to do something you were nervous about, only to prove you can do it beyond your expectation?