30 for 30 fitness challenge wrap-up

I participated in Hilary Phelps’ 30 for 30 fitness challenge in April.  I made 27 for 30, which I am just fine with.  I kept track of what I did on a separate page that you can find at the top of the blog.

What did I learn?  I make a choice every day.  Do I get up or do I sleep an extra hour?  If I sleep an extra hour do I find time later in the day to workout?  For the most part I have gotten into the early morning routine and this challenge helped me get back on track.  I was having a hard time getting up for a while.  I also took different style yoga classes and went to classes with different and new teachers.  I am really enjoying my renewed yoga practice quite a bit and it is interesting to practice new styles even if I don’t think they will be my long term practice.

My off days.  I needed a day off mid way through the month.  I also took two days after my week of travel – one to catch up and one because I have a minor injury that I am trying to let heal.  I don’t beat myself up for rest days.  I know my body better than I used to and I know when I absolutely need some down time more than I need a 20 mile bike ride.

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The most fun I had all month was at the Yin Yoga Intensive.  It was a wonderful two days and I am looking forward to the next workshop that I am going to at the end of May.  I am really hoping to teaching Yin Yoga soon.

I am glad I took the challenge.  It re-energized me and helped me get back on track with my daily routine.  I also paid more attention to what I was eating and started prepping better again.   What I love most is the choices that I make to be healthy.  That is ongoing and won’t end with the end of the challenge.

yoga kim

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Yoga homes: A week of Yin Yoga

I am grateful2015-04-24 17.14.54 for all the yoga homes that I have found as I have traveled this past year.   Bala Yoga in Kirkland, Washington is a special place for me; however, because it is the place where I returned to my practice.  I was fortunate enough to both practice at Bala Yoga last week and participate in a Yin Yoga Intensive training over the weekend, led by Pamela Chang.  It was so nice to meet Mike and Gabriela Baiocchi, the owners of the studio.

Yin Yoga emphasizes poses that are held longer than in most styles of yoga.  Poses are held 2-6 minutes (maybe more), depending on the part of the body being stretched.  These long holds stress the deep connective tissues of the body resulting in strengthening joints, ligaments and fascial networks.  Most poses are on the floor.  In Yin Yoga we look for the edge – the place of being uncomfortable but not in pain – and then hold the position for the time.  Bernie Clark says two things that are helpful to remember when thinking about and practicing Yin Yoga:

If you are feeling it, you are doing it. 


We don’t use our body to get into a pose, 

we use the pose to get into our body. 

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I feel honored to study with Pam Chang, a sweet and compassionate teacher who has so much knowledge to share.  There were 25 yinsters in the Intensive over the weekend.  We spent time talking about philosophy, meditation, sequencing and doing a posture clinic.  And we practiced several times.  On Friday evening we were fortunate enough to have Richard Grace, one of the other Yin teachers from Bala Yoga, bring his singing bowls for practice.

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I look forward to returning to Bala Yoga the next time I am in Seattle.

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Different practices

I hadn’t realized that it has been almost two weeks since I posted.  I still have a list of topics I want to write about – my continuing ed training with Hearth to Health, a post on DNF’s and the world not ending, and this one about the new yoga classes I have attended this week.

On Sunday I went to a Kundalini yoga class for the first time.  I really was not sure what to expect. I had heard a few things about kundalini yoga but experienced none of them in the class.  What I did experience was a practice that included chanting, meditation, asanas, kriyas,mudras, and rest.  I really enjoyed the experience and I will return to the class. Poses are held for several minutes.  There were some that I was unable to do for various reasons. It is difficult to sit on my knees for a long period of time. I am unable to do head or shoulder stands due to my eyes.  There were modifications, however.

The amazing thing about the kundalini practice was the gong that Chris played for several minutes at the end.  The sound enters the entire body.  It is difficult to explain in words.

This week I have also had the pleasure of returning to Bala Yoga in Kirkland, Washington.  I have been to two Yin Yoga classes with Pam Chang and will spend the next two days with her in an intensive teacher training.  Yin is one of my favorite styles of yoga  The poses are held several minutes in this style as well.The focus is on letting go and softening the body.  When this happens, you can go more deeply into the pose than imagined.  One class focused on shoulders. I learned some lovely poses that I will use at home.


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Weaving many colored threads: Breath, Chakras and Yoga in the Park

20150412_223717I left this past weekend of teacher training thinking about the threads of my life that are being drawn together through this process.  It is an amazing and marvelous thing.  The weekend focused on breath, meditation and the chakras.  There were lots of deep discussions, practice teaching, and yoga practice.  I will try to capture the essence of the weekend.


We all breathe. Of course, we do.  But do you think about breathing?  If you do, it will mess with your mind.  Try it and see.   For most of Saturday we discussed and practiced various breathing  practices, or pranayama. I had been exposed to most of them over the years of my practice but I have not practiced regularly. I found it valuable to concentrate again on how my body reacts to breathing, observing what happens when I inhale and exhale,  what happens when I think about it versus what happens when I just sit and breathe normally.


We moved on to a discussion of several kinds of meditation.  Again, I have practiced or at least been exposed to several of the kinds of mediation techniques we discussed. I am probably most drawn to mindfulness meditation and visualization.  I have read Dr. Jon Kabat- Zinn’s work over several years and have long wanted to study with him but have not yet had that opportunity.  I know he does not teach very often anymore so I hope I have an opportunity at some point soon.  Visualization is a technique that I have made use of in triathlons and racing.  I have found quite a bit of discussion about this in triathlon circles and it has been useful to calm me prior to races.

On Sunday we had an opportunity to teach in pairs.  This is an incredibly supportive group of women and we all helped one another work through teaching breathing techniques to one another.  I am enjoying teaching again and I am looking forward to teaching over the coming months of training.

Chakras chakra lecture

Sunday was also spent discussing the chakra system.  Again, I was already familiar with the chakras but I have much to learn (and a rather hefty book to read about the chakras before the weekend in May).  This was probably one of the first times I was involved in discussions about ways to balance the chakras and yoga poses that specifically align with each chakra. I am looking forward to diving into this study over the coming month.

Playing in the park 

Saturday was a beautiful day and we took advantage of it by going to a nearby park for our yoga practice.  We spread mats on the grass near a playground and Melissa led us through our practice.  Part of the practice was playing using the trees to do supported handstands and other inversions.  I actually did my very first handstand against a tree with Melissa’s help.  It was pretty amazing.

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The practice and play reminded me about my purpose and passion as well.  Look very closely at the photo below:


Did you just see several women doing backbends and handstands against trees?  Or did you also see what made my heart happy?  Look at the right side of the photo.  There is a father and his daughter (maybe 8ish years old) who joined in and was also doing handstands and backbends right along with us.   It reminded me of my purpose when I had to document why I should be allowed to earn the MA in Health Studies at UA since I was already a faculty member with a Ph.D.

In part, I wrote the following, in my justification:

I am keenly interested in four areas related to health education: advocacy and education, health issues which impact women and girls, prevention of diabetes and obesity, and combining the arts with health education. I believe that over 25 years in education as a teacher, librarian, and administrator and graduate degrees in English, Information & Library Science, and Storytelling provide a solid background for pursuing the degree. I will draw on my strengths and previous graduate work while pursuing the degree and in applying what I learn afterwards.

I have discovered that I have a passion for working with others to improve health and to establish healthy habits. As I have had opportunities to share what I know through classes, workshops, and work with non-profits, I have realized that I desire and need a stronger background in theory and practice. My training thus far has  been informal and has come from my own reading, taking workshops, my own personal training, and several years studying yoga, Reiki, and other Eastern practices. 

So far this blog, teaching classes at my church, and volunteer work have been my main venues for sharing my knowledge and passion for health education.   I do hope to change that and incorporate all that I have learned and continue to learn into something greater that will continue to serve others. In the meantime I will continue on my journey and see how the threads continue to weave together.



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Five rides, four swims and then some: Update on the 30 for 30 challenge


I have a number of posts in mind but I have not had much time this week.  I wanted to write a brief update on the 30 for 30 challennge though.  So far, so good.   Since the beginning of April I have worked out every day.  I’m back on track and back in my routine.

Getting back out on my road bike has been fantastic  The weather has been beautiful and I have ridden five times – 96 miles total since April 1.  My speed is improving again and I am back to being able to ride at 15-18 mph  for stretches.

I swam four times so far. Twice with Sam and twice on my own. One of the things that became reallyswim cap obvious to me this week was how much my yoga is helping my swimming. It’s all about alignment again.  I am feeling the work I have been doing in poses like warrior and triangle as I stretch into a streamline position and as my stroke continues to feel better.

I have also practiced yoga, of course.   I had a wonderfully challenging hour with Kim last week, attended a relaxing class on Monday and have practiced on my own.

The final thing workouts I will mention are weights and my Sam workout.  I actually did what Sam wrote down for me in the weight workout. Shocking.  Weights have been hard for some reason. I like strength work and want to do it but have avoided it everytime I can for months.  I don’t know why.  It felt really good to be back.  There is no good way to describe a Sam workout.  You just have to experience it.  It’s hard and I sweat puddles all of the floor.  It’s always good even if I complain or make faces.

I registered for Rocketman Aquabike at the end of August and for the Hot Hundred.  These will be my main events that I will work toward besides swimming at Augusta.

Eating well is also back on track but I will write a separate post about that.



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Caught the bug: Fitness challenge

how farWhen I told Sam that I was ready to register for a race again, his response was, “you caught the bug.”  Yes, I’m back. I have not done much cycling since Augusta and I don’t think I have run a total of 3 miles, if that.  I have done a fair amount of swimming, some weight work and started my yoga journey.  I’m choosing my races carefully this year – not a crazy year of lots of racing – just a few to keep me going.  I had already committed to the swim leg of Augusta in September.  I’ve only added a few more events and they are all for fun.  In June I signed up for a fun swim in San Francisco Bay.   It’s actually inside a dock area so I won’t be out in the Bay this time.  In July I will ride the Hot Hundred and I am attempting the 103 miles this year – at least that is the goal.  And in August I am registered for the Rocketman Aquabike.  I’m still really not certain about running again but that may come back. I won’t rule out running but I am not registering for anything that requires it right now.

The fitness challenge part of the title comes from the 30 for 30 fitness challenge I joined this week  This is the 5th  year that Hilary Phelps has issued her Genuine Joy 30 for 30 Fitness Challenge – 30 workouts for 30 consecutive days.  I need to get back to that kind of routine so it came at a perfect time.  I created a page (see the link on the top) to track my workouts this month.  I also need to eat better.  I have been decent but not great.

specializedbikeOne of the things that makes me really happy is that I have cycled 43 miles so far this week.  For lots of reasons I haven’t had much time to get out on my bike for months.  It has been really good to be back out on the road.  It will take me a few weeks to get back up to the pace I was at last summer but I already see improvement.

On Monday I was not able to track my ride because my Garmin was dead.  It has been months since I had used it or had tracked any workout.  They are both charged and ready now.  I am back to tracking what I am doing.  I find that does help me see what I have done and to set goals.  It really was good to take a break though.

In addition to cycling I am, of course, practicing yoga at least a short time everyday.  In addition to all the other wonderful benefits of yoga, I am noticing my arms getting stronger.  You can’t do some of these poses over and over and not see your arms not get strong.  I had just never realized it before or thought about it because that is not why I practice.  It’s a nice side benefit though.

I’m looking forward to the challenge this month and tracking my progress.   I’ll be reporting on how it is all going.



Posted in Augusta 70.3, bikes, challenges, choices, exercise, Hot Hundred, mountain biking, nutrition, passion, progress, Sam, starting, training, training pace, yoga | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Eat local: Fresh goodness

Somsnows bende of my fondest memories of childhood are going to the farmers market with my mom.  There were rows of produce in baskets, bright colors, and lots of fresh foods.  I learned how to pick out melons, how to tell if vegetables were ready to eat, think about how much one place was charging vs another.  I  also have fond memories of eating food from family and friend’s gardens.  Floyd’s new potatoes and peas,  cooked in a white sauce,  remains a favorite but I could make an entire list of the foods and flavors I remember.  What do you remember?

I have been fortunate throughout my life to live in places that have wonderful selections of produce.   I lived in Grand Rapids nearly a decade and went to the wonderful market most Saturday mornings when the weather was nice.  Ann Arbor also had wonderful fresh produce available.  Since the addition of the Tuscaloosa River Market, the farmers market has been much better in Tuscaloosa.  I don’t always think about going this early in the year per my Michigan roots.  Saturday morning I saw a note on Facebook that my friend Hope was th20150330_125051 (2)ere and to come on by.  I was not sure what I would find this early in the spring but I was pleasantly surprised. Tables were full of greens, tomatoes, root vegetables and cheese. I tried a local tea shop that goes to markets and events.  My salad is Swiss chard, kale and tomatoes – all from different vendors at the market last Saturday.  I am going to be more attentive to what is available by season this year.

I’m looking forward to the market starting on campus in a few weektomatoess.  It provides a nice option during the week to pick up fruits and vegetables.

My challenge for you is to find a local market and explore the offerings.  Try something new.  I’m trying to figure out what to do with collards since there seem to be plenty available at the market.  Explore.  It’s a grand adventure.

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