There is nothing you can’t do, if you set your mind to it. Anything is possible. – Rick Hansen

So far I’ve learned that blogging can make people feel uncomfortable, happy, relieved, bitter, elated and everything in between. I’ve learned that just because I’m confident in sharing my ups and downs, others just aren’t. And while there’s oodles of support out there, unfortunately there are just as many Debbie Downers.

So the primary focus of this blog is to chronicle my journey to half-marathon. If it helps inspire other people, that’s fantastic and a true honour. I share these details so that others know it’s alright if you can’t walk to the mailbox right now, lift 100 lbs weights or just feel crappy. There is light at the end of the tunnel. So I thought I would also share more details on where I was a little over a year ago.

I was only wearing yoga pants. And though I’m mortified to admit it, I was still wearing some of my maternity clothes (my son was born Feb 2011). I was busy worrying about how horrible I’d look at the gym, rather than just getting my arse into gear and going. I HATED having my picture taken, at least from the waist down; and for all those out there who like to take skinny-photos, talk to me I know all the angles! I never shared many photos like the one below because I was really ashamed of myself. I was worried about what others would think of me; how I had “let myself go”; “gained soooooo much weight.” etc. It’s always funny when word gets back to you or you hear whispers of what people think. Most of the time they’re totally off-base; and generally lack the life experience to pass any type of judgement. I have to laugh though, because it’s usually the same people who have something to say about everything. And never nice. But now I realize now how silly I was to feel that way. So what if people thought I got fat? I did!

A year ago I couldn’t do a push-up. Not one. Seriously. I couldn’t. I would’ve liked to blame it on just having a kid and having no..uhh..chest muscles, but that’s not the case. I could never do one. Ever. I also couldn’t do a side plank. At all (unless I cheated with one leg on the floor.) And I definitely couldn’t do a back bend. Are you kidding me? At my first yoga class I sat there in awe of everyone who could. And silently thought to myself, “There’s no way I’ll ever be able to do this.” Yet, being as stubborn as I am; watching others successfully complete the pose was the impetus I needed to get my arse in gear.

But now a year later I can do them all. I don’t look pretty whilst in the process, but it doesn’t matter. And I’m certainly not a pro. It’s sort of like running. If you run, you’re a runner. If you try to run, you’re a runner. These may seem like minor things to those of you ultra and elite athletes out there, but it’s been a huge deal to me. I’m healthy. I can run around with a kid and actually enjoy myself. I don’t sit on a bench, on my iPhone and watch him entertain himself. I actually get down in the dirt and play.

  There are lots of things I couldn’t do a year ago and still can’t – like a headstand, which is next on the list. But I plan on tackling my list of “cannot” and turning it on its arse. Hey -anything is possible!

 Finally, when I have days where I need some added inspiration or motivation, I always consult my absolute favourite collection of words. 

Oh & PS: I did a cartwheel at the park the other day. It was awesome. Haven’t done one in years.

Holy Crap, Yoga with Mark G is tough!

So I tried out about an hour of the 75 minute video from Mark Gonzales. It was tough. VERY tough. ESPECIALLY the arm balancing. Okay people, I just figured out how to do a proper push-up!

It was a great video though – he did a fantastic job explaining each posture and also demonstrated alternatives. I found the dolphin pose sequence particularly difficult, but I was also being pushed around by an 18-month old who also wanted to share my mat. Obviously the balancing was quite tough, but I was pleased that I could do the extended versions (something I have never been able to do before without falling over.) I love the variety of postures he uses in this video – it was really close to classes I’ve had. I enjoyed that the flow wasn’t too fast or slow, but perfect for someone not quite a beginner, not quite intermediate 🙂

Needless to say, I will definitely be trying this one again – maybe even tomorrow after my 3 mile run.

For those of you who gave it a try – how did it go?

Day 5: Rest Day from half-marathon training

Today is my glorious rest day – YAHOO! Actually, I’m feeling great and if I wasn’t following a training schedule I probably would’ve fit in a run today. However, in listening to my body I’ll instead get my yoga on this evening.

Since I’m single-parenting this weekend, I won’t be able to make it to the Trico Centre for yoga class. But thanks to brains of Leonard Kleinrock (internet) + three amigos from PayPal (YouTube), I can get my workout in at home. Now, you all know that I have a severe allegiance to Bryan Jones and his great videos on YouTube, but upon further research I found a video by Mark Gonzales, which you can find here. I have a few reservations about the 75 minute video based on the comments (tough; people are sore etc.) but there are others who claim it’s the best workout they’ve ever had so I’m excited to give it a try. I’ll report back and let you know what’s what and if it’s a good one or not.

Not much more to report right now. It’s a grey, rainy day here in Calgary – hope it’s nicer tomorrow for our 3 mile run through Glenmore Reservoir!

Happy Trails!!

Never say never: lessons learned through yoga

I’ll admit that when my sister suggested I try yoga, I wasn’t sold on the idea. I didn’t quite understand how stretching and holding positions could help me – after all, I had a lot of weight to lose and a steep climb to fitness. In my experience, hardcore cardio was the answer, but she continued to press me to sign up. Shortly after her visit and through the magic of Groupon, an amazing deal came along. I figured, eh, $20 for 20 sessions, what’s to lose? (other than dignity, of course.) Early one Saturday morning I got up the courage to drive to Kensington to attend my first class at Yoga and Beyond. 

The first hot yoga class was tough. Real tough. I liken it to Mr.Harvey’s basketball practices in which I thought I was going to throw up 99% of the time. There was one point in the session where I thought, “I should have updated my will.” For a solid 75 minutes I thought that there was no other torture but hot yoga. And then it was over. I felt terrific – albeit, lighter due to water loss. 

The teacher was fantastic. She took time to help me with my poses; showed me the correct form and gently encouraged me to push harder. It was different than any other sport I had tried. Though I love team sports, the yoga environment differed in that I never felt self-conscious. It  was wholly supportive – though it was obvious I struggled, everyone was eager to encourage rather than judge or worse yet, ignore. I still distinctly remember being in downward dog (with blood rushing to my head; pins and needles in my fingers and sweat pouring off my face) when the teacher claimed that soon it would feel like a resting position. That we would gain strength and feel normal like this. I don’t know if my scoff was audible or not, but oddly enough, when I practice nowadays down dog is comfortable. She also said that without realizing it, the poses and sequence will become so natural you’ll no longer feel awkward moving through them. She was right. She said I’d have more energy. I do. I’ve experienced several benefits from yoga, but I know there are still lots of people out there (like me) who will be hesitant to give it a try; Hear me out:

I’m a normal chick. Not an athlete. Not a skinny, lululemon girl. But I practice yoga and I love it.

I never thought that I would ever consider downward dog a resting or comfortable position. Now I do DDs every morning when I get up to stretch. AND I never thought I would be able to do downward dog with both feet, flat on the mat. I can! 

I never ever thought I would be able to complete a full-bind. I have. 

I never thought I would be able to “gently float my feet back to the mat”  which is another way of saying going from standing to plank position gracefully. I do. 

I never thought I’d be able to do salutations properly – because I could never do a push up. I’m proud to say I can do a real, proper push-up AND salutations!  

I never thought I would be able to do a proper bridge pose or a full backbend and even laughed when it was suggested that I try. It took a while, but I did that too! 

After just over a year of practice, I’ve accomplished a pretty awesome list of things I thought I would never be able to do. I wholeheartedly recommend that you try yoga. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hockey player, a runner, bowler, whatever! Young/old ... Yoga is amazing. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be like this lady when they grow up -> 

Yoga while you travel

Despite being hesitant to try Yoga, I’ve since become a total junkie. While at home on vacation in Cape Breton I felt a little lost without it and that’s when YouTube and Bryan Jones came in. Bryan has awesome power yoga videos on YouTube. He clearly demonstrates and coaches on sequence and despite being a complete novice, I managed to make it through the entire practice without injury! Now, you’ll definitely sweat (so have a towel handy); plenty of water and maybe do it somewhere quiet. He does a great warm-up and his videos are anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes (very manageable). Give it a try, you’ll feel terrific afterward!