Monday, May 30, 2016

Listen to Your Body:
The Importance of Recovery
After a Race

I was so naive.

I thought I would be able to go from half-marathon training to marathon training with just a few days off. I had been training five days a week for 12 weeks, so I didn't think it'd be a problem. But there was a flaw in my plan: My body decided it needed a break.

My calf had a sharp pain when I walked or ran. My shoulder was still uncomfortable, though the pain had subsided. I took four full days off and then tried Orangetheory to see how it would go. I immediately felt the pull in my calf. I stuck to walking during base runs and jogging during push paces. It was clear I was not ready to get back into it, but I did enjoy the weight room portion of class. 

The next day, my friend who has a background in physical therapy in the sports arena assessed my situation. She worked on the knot she found in my calf for a while, which hurt so good. Afterward, I immediately felt relief. It was not completely gone, but I'm hoping a couple of days of yoga and light stretching will bring me back to normal. 

In addition to taking it easy exercisewise, I have been using Dr Teal's Epsom Salt Soaking Solution with Chamomile. It was sent to me because I won the brand badge contest (along with other products) after participating in the Cheers Vox Box campaign from Influenster. It's been a nice way to unwind and find some relief this week, because I've yet to mention that we also have been finishing up our move. It's been exhausting. 

I am really excited to begin marathon training for the Chicago Marathon when my body tells me it's ready. I still have time to do a complete 16 weeks of training for the race, so I am not worried about time off. I plan to try yoga in the meantime and perhaps taking it easy at Orangetheory.



Shop Dr Teal's (affiliate):


I was not compensated by Dr Teal's to mention them, but I did receive free products, as I mentioned. I still loved the products. This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Phoenix Eats: Herb Box Midtown

One of the things I miss about Phoenix is my neighborhood. The area surrounding our condo has seen lots of redevelopment recently, adding trendy new restaurants and bars. I try to check out a new restaurant each time I visit Phoenix. This month I was able to try the Herb Box's new Midtown Phoenix location on Seventh Street just north of Missouri Avenue.

The Herb Box is in the Colony development project, which will also house other new restaurants. I watched an abandoned senior-housing complex be torn down to begin construction before I moved to Chicago last year. The restaurant has a great patio that will be nice in cooler Phoenix months. 

I met my friend there for happy hour, during which most drinks are $11. The house wine and beer were $5. (I chose the white house option, which was Chardonnay. Not my favorite, but I'm on a budget.) On a Thursday afternoon, only a few other tables were occupied.

 I started the meal with the Avocado Love, which by the description sounded like avocado toast. When it was delivered to the table, I was shocked. Where's the avocado? Instead I saw a mountain of arugula covering the toast. Don't get me wrong; it was delicious, but I was not expecting this much arugula. I had to scrape a bunch of it off onto a plate so I could eat the avocado toast. (I later ate the arugula at home as part of a salad.) The sweet-hot Serrano glaze is delicious!



I also ordered a side of gouda mac and cheese, because I was looking for a smaller pre-dinner meal. It had a smoky flavor and was filling enough for me. 



My friend ordered the butternut squash and corn enchiladas, which I tasted and loved. I would definitely order it again on a future visit. It was served with a salad. 

My first impression of the Herb Box is that it is a nice option for healthier fare than the norm. The prices are a little high but seem to be in line with other trendy restaurants that serve fresh food.

Have you tried the Herb Box? What did you think?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Chicago Summer Goal:
Get on the Water


I have always felt a connection to the water and boating. My grandfather was a fishing boat captain in Mexico for many years. I remember visiting him on the boat during summer vacations and loving every minute of it. 




Now, boat is still accessible to me via Discover Boating's Get on the Water tool, which shows boat classes, charters and rentals in my area, as well as around the country.

While I don't get to go on fishing boats often anymore, last summer I was lucky enough to experience a Chicago sunset from a boat on Lake Michigan. It was one of my favorite summer memories in our first year in Chicago. This summer I am determined to recreate that experience as often as possible. My mission: Get on the water. 









While researching boat rentals, I came across this touching video titled "Good Run: A Boating Story." It reminded me of my grandpa and of all the reasons I love being on the water.  I love feeling the cool breeze, looking at the amazing city views and spending time with friends and my husband in such a fun setting. 

I found various ways to experience Chicago in new ways on DiscoverBoating.com, which makes boating accessible by providing everything you need to know to get on the water. I found 20 locations for boat rentals in the Chicago area to make my summer dreams come true.

Ideas for boating activities in Chicago found on Discover Boating:


  • Renting an island theme party boat with friends.
  • Chicago river boat rentals and cruises to marvel at the city's impressive architecture.
  • Night boat rentals to see the Navy Pier fireworks held during the summer.
  • Sunset boat rentals to see the gorgeous lighting surrounding the Chicago skyline.
  • Swimming and sunbathing sailboat charters.
  • Youth Boating Programs such as sailing classes and racing teams for children.
Want to go boating this summer? Discover Boating has tools to help you get out on the water, even if you don't own a boat! Those looking to buy a boat can find a Boat Selector tool on Discover Boating's website. It's a must-see resource for new and experienced boaters. 

*“This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Favorite Exercises
for Half-Marathon Training

I recently shared my least favorite exercises for half-marathon prep and why I still do them. I prefer to be more positive, so now I'm listing my top five exercises for half-marathon training! I do these (and many other exercises) regularly as part of my strength and marathon workouts.


  • Pulse squats (or regular squats). I could do these all day. They burn, yes, but I love them.
  • Lunges with one foot on bench with weights in each hand. I kind of feel like a bad ass doing these. It tests your balance and strength. 
  • Plank. Not to toot my own horn, but I can hold plank for a decent amount of time. In a recent Orangetheory class I held plank for three minutes! Planks are a great way to work your core as well as your upper and lower body.
  • Pikes on the Ab Dolly. With your feet on the ab dolly and hands on the ground in a plank position, roll your feet toward your hands until you're in a pike, or V-shape. It's a great core workout and challenges my fear of falling.
  • Half-mile repeats. I like that the runs are broken down to short distances for time, so that the workout goes by much faster than usual. They also build endurance and strength. I'm sticking with half-mile repeats because one-mile repeats are not my favorite. Runner's World has awesome tips on doing these.
What are your favorite workouts? Share them with me in the comments!

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Chicago Spring Half Marathon 2016


Pro tip: Don't fly across the country, move and then run a half-marathon in one weekend. It's as exhausting as it sounds. While this wasn't an ideal situation, all three events were incredibly important for Graham and me. All three were events I've been waiting for all year.

I spent the week before the Chicago Spring Half Marathon resting my shoulder, which had been bothering me since Week 12 of half-marathon training. It even felt sore the day before the race. I worried that I wouldn't be able to run the half-marathon. I tried to alleviate the soreness with a back massager and Max Freeze pain relief gel. It did relieve some of that tension, and I felt much better on race day.

I awoke about 4:30 on race morning and stayed in bed. That was a mistake. I finally hopped out of bed, muttering curse words, at about 5. I needed to leave the house by 5:30, so I threw on my race clothes, packed some rice cakes with almond butter and honey, and ran out the door. It takes 45 minutes to get to Lakeshore East Park on the L train. I ate my breakfast and drank water on the ride, while downloading my running app (Map My Run) on my new phone and unpacking my new headphones. I clearly wasn't prepared. I had thrown on shorts underneath my running tights, which I had planned to take off at the start line. I decided instead to change into just my running tights because the shorts were not as comfortable as they had been previously. They felt too tight, and nothing bothers me more than running clothes that are too constricting. I raced to the portable restrooms to change and, you know, relieve myself before the race. When I finally made it to my assigned corral, it had been closed and the runners were about to head out. I went to the next corral and cut throw a gap in the fence to get to my corral, because I wanted to start earlier. And we were off!

I felt good through the first half of the race. While it was much warmer, in the 70s, than weather during my training, there was a nice breeze that cooled us off. The Lakeshore Trail offers little shade, though, so sunglasses and a hat are a good idea. (I opted to just wear sunglasses.) Along the way, local musicians and DJs entertained runners. One of my favorites was a rapper when you get to the South Side. I am unsure of his name, but he had so much energy despite being the only person on stage and having no crowd around him. Running waved their hands in the air as they passed him, and he proclaimed, "I'm doing a marathon performance for two and a half hours!" 

I felt emotional during several parts of the race, as I often do. It feels incredible when people cheer you on and high-five you, especially during the last few miles. Also, I wished I had stopped to take photos of the view of the Chicago skyline when you turn around on the route. It's incredible and makes me feel lucky to live in this beautiful city. 

As far as pace, I kept at an average of 10 minute/mile pace. I started at 9:30 but then felt dragged down by wind when we turned north. The last 3 miles were even more difficult; we were closer to the water and the wind felt more powerful. I was trying to stay ahead of the 2:10 pacer but she passed me with 2 miles to go. I lost momentum and felt disappointed. My last half-marathon pace was 2:22, so I was trying to beat that, but I secretly also wanted to beat my PR of 2:08. I ended up finishing in 2:13:34. I am proud of myself for improving since last September, and now I have something to keep working toward. I love to PR at my next half in the fall (Chicago Fall Half Marathon). 

The post-race festivities included breakfast, a beer garden, lots of vendors, and free flowers! I loved that we each got a flower to take home.

Holding my medals and flower after the Chicago Spring Half.

Overall, it was a well-run race. The volunteers were great at cheering us on and giving us our water, gels and sports drinks. The medal is awesome: It has a spinning Ferris wheel on it! I would definitely run this race again next year.





Half-marathon training recaps:



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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Hawaiian Birthday

Last weekend I hopped on a plane to Hawaii for a 1-year-old's birthday party.

Just kidding, the party was in Phoenix. The guest of honor was Olivia, my niece. She looked adorable in her grass skirt, Aloha shirt and flower hair clip. Guests got lei'd on arrival to get the party started.

The theme could not be more perfect for a birthday pool party in the Phoenix summer. My mom cooked barbecue pork, macaroni salad and potato salad, and we also munched on fruit cups and sipped tropical (adults-only) drinks through pineapple straws.

Hula girls danced atop the Hawaii-themed cake. Hibiscus flowers decked out the patio space we used for the party. And we tried to stay cool as a Hawaiian breeze.

My nieces splashed around in the kiddie pool, and I melted. It wasn't the heat; it was the love!

An afternoon in the sunshine with family was just what I needed after a rainy and stressful few weeks in Chicago. 

Watch my short video of the party on YouTube and follow my channel if you're so inclined. Mahalo!



Ready for a summer bash?


Inspired to host a Hawaii or pineapple theme birthday party this summer? Check out these adorable decor items I found online!


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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Carry-On Essentials

My most recent flight reminded me I need to get it together when it comes to being prepared. The Wi-Fi wasn't working on the plane, so my plans to blog were out the window. I was left with nothing to do but sit there and listen to songs already downloaded on my phone. I ended up listening to the same 15 songs on repeat for three hours. I was also shivering. I had closed the air-conditioning vent above me and was still feeling a blast of cold air. I put my hoodie on and tried to sleep in my seat. I didn't have a pillow, so my head was just drooping down toward my chest, bobbing from side to side. It was after this uncomfortable experience that I decided enough is enough. I will make sure I have all of the following items on me when I fly to make it a more enjoyable experience. I added an extra at the end that isn't always necessary (or is it?) but would be nice!



Are you someone who is frequently uncomfortable on planes? Hope this lists helps make flying a little more fun!

  • Headphones + pre-downloaded songs. I will be sure to have at least an hour's worth of songs.
  • Journal (and pen) or Book. Right now I'm using The 52 Lists Project* journal I received for my birthday.
  • Snacks. Rice cakes (with almond butter and honey) have been my go-to lately, but hummus and veggie chips/veggies would be tasty, too. 
  • Mints or Colgate Wisps. I wear Invisalign aligners so this a much pretty much always.
  • Wet/face wipes.
  • Tissues. 
  • Neck pillow (or something I roll up into a pillow).
  • Sweater.
  • Water bottle.
  • Face mist. I've heard wonders about this one.I just think it would feel great after the flight.
  • Eucalyptus or lavender oil for headache (or your favorite headache remedy).
  • Carry-on Cocktail kit.They come in various cocktail options; champagne or Old Fashioned would be my picks.
What are you flight must-haves? Share them with me in the comments!

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Half-Marathon Training, Week 12

The Chicago Spring Half Marathon is Sunday! I'm ready. I just hope the weather is nice, and by nice I mean in the 60s and not raining. Is that asking too much? It IS Chicago. ...

I battled some anxiety as well as physical pain this week. My shoulder has been sore for about five days, so I'm looking forward to a few more days of rest and recovery before the race. The anxiety stems from unexpected financial obstacles we're facing that are really the last thing I need right now on top of moving and big changes on the way for us. I can't take much more of this stress this year. But that's a story for another post. 

Here's how the last week of training went:

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: 1,7 miles at Orangetheory.

Floor exercises included:


  • Deadlifts to rows
  • Lunges to single-leg squats with straps
  • Planks to knee tucks
  • Tricep extensions on bench
  • Single-arm swings from squat position
  • Bicycle situps with weights
  • Bench jumps

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: 2.5 miles of inclines at Orangetheory. One block was at 2 percent incline, one was at 3 percent and the last one was at 4 percent. We also did two 300-meter rows.


Floor workout:
  • Incline chest press
  • High rows on TRX strap
  • Reverse crunches
  • Knee tucks
  • A bunch of other chest and shoulder workouts

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Rest day.

Sunday: 5.31 miles.

Week's mileage: 9.51
Yoga minutes: 20 minutes


Reflections:


I did not intend to have four rest days this week, but I crumbled amid my stress this week. You would think it would motivate me to burn off the tension, but it had the opposite effect: I wanted to curl into a ball and not move. The weather didn't help matters; it felt like 35 on Saturday morning. I put off my planned run until Sunday.

Resting my shoulder and yoga are my plans these next few days before the race. I need to take my own advice about my yoga practice: Breathe and remember you can't control anything but your reaction. Wish me luck, please!

What are your fitness goals? Let me know in the comments!

Previous recaps:




Thursday, May 12, 2016

Recent Beauty Products and Reviews


I enjoy reading about products people are using to find new ones to try. I have a list of items I'd like to start using, including jojoba oil, rosehip oil and the Yes to Tomatoes charcoal mask. Here's what I've been using lately:
Origins Antioxidant Cleanser with White Tea: I love the creaminess and smooth lather; it's luxurious. I also love the citrus scent. What I don't love? The price. I don't know if I can justify $24 for facial cleanser. Perhaps if I can buy when there's a sale going on. ... I have since moved on to a cruelty-free and naturally derived option that is more affordable.

Herbal Essences Naked Volume Shampoo: I am always lured by labels that say no parabens. I like using this shampoo, though the Environmental Working Group rates this product as a score of 5, representing a moderate hazard. It has a clean scent that I enjoy. I am unsure if this is cruelty-free but I have since moved on to a natural option.

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Complete Anti-Wrinkle and Firming Moisturizing Eye Cream: I've been using this for a couple of weeks now. It has firmed my skin somewhat, though I think I also need an anti-puffiness cream or roller to go along with it. A little bit seems to go a long way. EWG rates this product as a 5 in terms of hazard.  I have decided to look for natural and cruelty-free ways to reduce my eye concerns.

e.l.f. Makeup Mist & Set: I like using this to set my makeup and to feel refresh throughout the day. I bought this on recommendation of Meg O. on the Go. I am obsessed with her makeup videos and she's right about this one. You can't beat the price of $3!

L'Oreal Ideal Moisture Day Lotion for Dry Skin with SPF 25: I have been using this daily for a few weeks now. I like the scent and that it's not too heavy. I also like that it has SPF 25, because that's one fewer thing to worry about applying. It's also affordable, which is always a plus. It has a rating of 3 for low hazard on the Environmental Working Group's website, or at least its 2013 formulation does. I have decided to go cruelty-free as much as possible, so I won't be repurchasing this product.


Try the products:




What have you been loving lately? Let me know in the comments!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Setting a Goal vs. an Intention
and How to Do Each

Each month I set goals. I share them with the world  or whoever clicks on this blog. (Thank you, by the way, for reading this.) Why do I do this? Because sharing my goals is a form of holding myself accountable and manifesting my dreams. The goals I regularly share on this blog are smaller goals that I hope will eventually lead to the life I want to create for myself. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of manifestation and goal-setting. But what's the difference between setting a goal and an intention? The words goal and intention are often used interchangeably, but here's what I think they mean and what the differences between the two are. Below I share tips on doing both. Hope this helps you! (Fun fact: Helping people is one of my larger lifelong goals, so writing this post is a smaller goal that aligns with that.)




Brainstorm and Analyze.
Create lists of what motivates you, want you desire out of life, etc.
Write down words that describe your priorities. Ideas: Friendship, love, money, music, strength, confidence, generosity, admiration, nature, laughter, comfort, travel, family. Identify the areas that are most important and use them to guide your goals.
Ask yourself: What do you want your life to look like? What are your passions?
Write down what you want to achieve. If it helps, break the goals down into categories for different parts of your life. (Career, health, personal, etc.)
Ask yourself why you want to achieve a certain goal? What's the underlying desire?
What resources can you list to help you achieve your goal? (Trainer, friends, books, classes, etc.) Write them down.
What investments (of time or money or anything else) do you need to make? Identify them.

Dream big but make more realistic short-term goals to work toward that big goal.
Try to find a middle ground between setting too easy of a goal and too unattainable.
Leave fear out of the goal-setting process. It has no place in it.
Leave judgment out of goal-setting. You might be worried about what people think. Put your own thoughts of why you want to achieve the goal above all other opinions.
Do you have a goal that you think it's too late for? Repeat this: It's not too late! Write down reasons and ways it can still be achieved.

"If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives." -Lemony Snicket

Be specific.
Write down exactly what you want (when, with whom, and how). The more specific you can be the better.
Start with one or two main goals. Once you have your main goal(s), you can break those down into smaller milestone goals.

Remind yourself of your goal(s) and your "why."
Write them down and display them around your desk, bedside, in your wallet, etc.
Make a vision board or create a Pinterest board.
Set reminders on your phone of your goals.
Share them with friends or on social media.
Surround yourself with people with a similar goal(s).
Meditate or pray about that goal. 

Schedule time for your goals.
Break your goals down to smaller goals and plan out when you can work toward each goal. 
Ask yourself: What small steps can I take today to bring me closer to achieving my goal? What can I do each week? Make working toward your goals a part of your daily to-do list.
What's a realistic timetable for achieving your goal? Write down due dates. 
Practice single-tasking. For each day or each week, consider focusing on just one goal. Focus all of your energy on it until it's accomplished, then move on to another goal/milestone.

Observe the changes/Hold yourself accountable.
Measure your success. This is why I check in with myself with my monthly goals. Where did you fall short and can you break that goal down even further into smaller steps?
Celebrate your successes and don't beat yourself up about the failures. Try again. Adjust in areas where you didn't hit your shorter-term goals, but keep working toward them.
Don't compare yourself to others. This is YOUR journey.
When you're feeling discouraged, think about times in your life that you overcame an obstacle. You can do this!


What's the difference between setting a goal and an intention?


Goals Intentions
Relies on reasoning, logic. Relies on emotion, comes from a place of love (not fear).
Has a time frame. Surrender to the process.
Action plan is put in place. Have faith. Believe in the magic/the universe.


Manifesting/Intention setting:


I credit my yoga teacher training for helping me let go of fear of judgment. During teacher training, we each talked about our intentions. I was afraid. My fear emerged in the form of tears. My heart pounded. I felt threatened. But the response from my fellow teacher trainees had no judgment whatsoever. We all have dreams we're afraid to share. Sometimes we're afraid of judgment when our dreams evolve.

I consider my journal and this blog a safe space. It's an outlet that houses my dreams, adventures and thoughts. It's a daily reminder that I am working toward my intention.

I recently read this quote: "What's on your mind becomes what's in your life. So think the thoughts you want to see." (Karen Salmansohn)

Those words capture perfectly the process of manifestation:

  • Set an intention. Visualize the end result. Meditate on it. Write it down. Feel it!
  • Observe the signs. The universe is listening. You will notice signs everywhere that relate to your intention. 
  • Hold your intention. Default to happy, grateful thoughts.  Act as though your intention has already come true. Keep imagining the outcome.
  • Trust the process and realize your manifestationFeel the gratitude and reinforce your trust in the process.


A few resources on goal-setting:

  • A search on Pinterest yields countless pins on goal-setting, along with many printables and checklists.
  • The journal "Start Where You Are" by Meera Lee Patel is an illustrated workbook journal to help you work on goals and self-exploration.
  • The book "The 52 Lists Project" was recently given to me as a gift, and it contains prompts for lists of everything from goals to your favorite things and things you want to add to your life. Creating lists and journaling can help you identify what you want your goals to be.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Half-Marathon Training, Week 11

It's tapering time! I'm so excited to be done with my longest runs. The race is less than two weeks away, and my longest distance will be 6 miles. It felt amazing to finish my 12-miler on Sunday!

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: 2 miles. I did four half-mile repeats. My paces were 9:42, 9:00, 9:11 and about 11:00. I obviously wasn't feeling that last one. I also did 36 lunges, 35 pulse squats, 20 regular squats and core work.

Wednesday: 30 minutes of yoga. 50 hip raises, 50 crunches, 15 single-leg V-ups each side and a 1 minute plank.

Thursday: 3.1 miles at the Cinco de Mayo bar crawl with my running group. We ran to three different bar/restaurants that were about a mile apart. It was a lot of fun and I got to know some awesome runners in Chicago. I also did 20 pulse squats and 20 crunches.

Friday: Rest day. I ran/walked .25 mile to just get outside on a busy workday. Other than that I did about 10 minutes of yoga.

Saturday: The plan was to run 14 miles. I went to Starbucks to get some coffee before my run. When I returned, my key wouldn't open the hallway leading to my apartment. I was locked out of my apartment for two hours, ruining my plans to run. I had to meet a friend around Wrigley Field later so I couldn't push my run back that day. I decided to go to Orangetheory instead and do my long run on Sunday before the game. I was frustrated and defeated, so I did my best to adjust to the new plan.

The Orangetheory workout started with 2.34 miles on the treadmill. We rowed 450 meters, 300 meters, 150 meters and 800 meters as well.

Floor workout:
  • Alligators with TRX straps
  • Speed skaters
  • Hip raises with heels in TRX straps
  • Squats onto the bench with weights
  • Double-tap crunches

Sunday: 12 miles. The plan was 14 miles but I ran out of time before needing to get ready for the Chicago Cubs game. I have actually never done 14 miles before a half marathon (usually it's up to 11 or 12), so I was OK with going up to 12 miles. I felt that if I had enough time I could have kept going for another 1.1 mile, so that's all that matters. The weather was finally perfect! I stopped to admire the blooms and take in the views of the city along the lakefront path.

Week's mileage: 19.69
Yoga minutes: 50



Reflections:


I'm struggling with what my goal pace should be for the race. Should I try to set a PR or be happy with running faster than I did at my last race? I'm really not sure. I know that if I don't run a faster pace I would be disappointed after all the hard work I've done for the last three months.

Perfect weather on Sunday was such a gift! It renewed my motivation and made me grateful to live here in Chicago.

Previous recaps:



How are you doing on your fitness goals? Let me know in the comments!


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Thursday, May 5, 2016

My Guide for Practicing Yoga at Home


My at-home yoga practice is incredibly important to me. It complements everything I learn at the studio and it's where I deepen my practice. When I first started yoga, I would only do yoga at the studio. I never implemented anything I learned at home. It wasn't until I later that I realized the importance of both.

Are you interested in practicing more yoga at home or beginning to practice yoga in general? Here are my list of tips, poses, resources, books and more to get you started.

But first, you need your yoga essentials.

So what do you need for an at-home yoga practice? These are suggestions that can enhance your experience, but you don't necessarily need all of these items. You can really practice yoga with just your body.

Yoga essentials (besides a yoga mat):
  • Essential oils such as lavender.
  • Yoga strap.
  • Yoga blocks.
  • Water bottle.
  • Yoga sock or gloves.
  • Comfortable yoga attire.
  • Yoga towel.
  • Bolster.
  • Eye pillow. 
  • Blanket.

Things to consider when buying a yoga mat:
  • Consider the width, size and texture of the yoga mat. Taller individuals may want to look for a longer mat than the standard size.
  • Consider whether you want one made from recycled materials. 
  • Determine the amount of money you want to spend on a mat. You can find mats at all price points.
  • Pick a design/color you like.
  • NOTE: I suggest buying a mat in person when possible to see the texture. I prefer mats that are more absorbent and prevent me from slipping when I sweat a lot. (When I used some of the more affordable mats out there, I noticed my hands would slide forward in downward-facing dog.)  

Online yoga resources/classes:

  • Yoga Journal has videos demonstrating poses, breathing techniques and full classes.

How to Practice Yoga at Home or During the Work Day:

  • If you can't do a full practice, at least give yourself time for savasana. It helps my husband Graham and me sleep better at night when we take 15-20 minutes before bed to get into corpse pose. (I outline what we do below.)
  • Take breaks from work or household chores with yoga poses. (Examples are also listed below.)
  • Begin and/or end your day with even a few minutes of meditation or journaling.
  • You can even practice yoga breathing techniques while sitting at your desk or commuting to calm you down and help you focus.
Poses I Do Regularly at Home/Work:
I practice yoga at home regularly, but these are my recent favorites. Find detailed instructions on how to do any yoga pose on Yoga Journal's website.
  • Tadasana: Stand with equal weight on all corners of your feet. Spread your toes and lift them and them place them back down on the mat. Feel your kneecaps lifting. Feel your navel lifting up as well. Move your shoulders away from your ears. Make sure the crown of your head is above your pelvic. Squeeze your inner thighs and rotate them inward. Bring your hands your sides, spread your fingers and turn your palms to face forward. Breathe and feel the strength of the pose. 
  • Standing forward bend: From tadasana, bring your hands down toward the floor, bending your knees softly. Make sure your weight is evenly balanced from the front and back of your feet. This is a great pose to use blocks if your hands down reach the ground, which is totally OK, by the way. This pose feels good after sitting down at a desk for a while. 
  • Utkatasana (Sometimes referred to as Chair or Fierce pose): From tadasana, place your feet closer together. Toes are together and heels are slightly apart. Bend your knees, which are together. Gentle "tuck" your tailbone and lift your navel toward your spine. Make sure you can see your toes. Lift your arms up overhead, with your arms next to your ears. This pose can give you power to deal with stress in your life. I recommend this when you're feeling overwhelmed or defeated.
  • Vrksasana (Tree pose): From tadasana, bring your weight onto one side of your body. Lift one foot up and put it on your opposite ankle or thigh, but never your knee. Tuck your opposing side in so your hip isn't sticking out. Bring your palms to heart center or lift your arms up. Focus on something that is not moving in the room. Lift your navel. Make sure your toes are pointing forward. Repeat on the other side. This pose is good to do to remind you to invite balance into your lift and to be more playful. I like to play around with the arms, sometimes waving them around to test my balance and focus.
  • Balasana (Child's pose): From tabletop or downward-facing dog, sink hips back to your heels. Knees spread outward as you sit back. Bring your forehead to the floor or a block. Reach your arms forward and bring hands to the mat. I like for them to face up. Breathe into your back. Close your eyes. Soften the muscles in your face. This is a good time to set an intention for your day or practice. You can use a bolster under your chest or put a blanket under your knees for support. 

Watch a Recent At-Home Practice:








SAVASANA

  • Play wordless music that you would hear at a class. I also really love Native American flute music.
  • Use essential oil and dab a tiny bit on your third eye or inhale some of the fragrance. You can also mix it with base oil to create a massage oil. 
  • Lie down on your mat or a blanket. Move your arms outward with palms facing up. Let your feet fall outward equally. Make sure shoulders are resting on the mat evenly as well.
  • I then massage Graham's scalp, jawline, neck, shoulders, arms, and legs for about 10-15 minutes. He returns the favor so I can also take savasana. If you're on your own, you can massage your scalp, jawline and temples.
  • Get an awesome night's sleep!

Books to consider reading:


  • Light on Yoga, Sutra of Patanjali, by B.K.S. Iyengar
  • Bhagavad Gita, Anonymous
  • The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living by Stephen Cope
  • Happy Yoga, by Steve Ross

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May Goals

April was a month of uncertainty. There was so much unpredictability that it was making me anxious to the point where I was losing sleep. At the beginning of the month, we had no idea when we would have to move or where we would live. We had no idea how to pay for the move that is being forced upon us. (Our apartment building was sold and our units are being converted.) I had no idea whether I would be running a marathon this year. I didn't know whether the family member dealing with addiction would get help. I had no idea what changes this year would bring for Graham and me (and I still don't). I'm grateful that things became more clear by the end of April. That brought me a little more peace at night and has renewed my inspiration for the new month.

Before I get into my May goals, let's check in with my previous goals.

April goal check-in

  • Continue looking for freelance writing and editing work. I didn't find any freelance work in April, but I also didn't really look. I'm going to really focus on this in May. I'd like to also grow my own blog and newsletter. (Please sign up here!)
  • Film one video for YouTube. Success! I filmed the Yoga & Mimosas event at the John Hancock Building in Chicago and our weekend in Kentucky for Thunder Over Louisville 2016, as well as a yoga video that will go live this week. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel here.
  • Stay on track with half-marathon training. Done! I ran about 50 miles in April and stayed on track with training. I also found out I'm running the Chicago Marathon in October. I didn't complete the Orangetheory Marathon, but I helped out Care for Real, a food pantry in Edgewater (Chicago) that provides food, clothing and referrals to people in need. Read my half-marathon recaps.
  • Adjust my diet to cut out more junk. Somewhat successful! Eating mostly healthy, unprocessed foods is harder than running a marathon! I ordered farm boxes, which helped me eat more vegetables. I have been following some fitness bloggers and vloggers who have helped me find healthy snack options. I plan to blog about this at some point.
  • Continue saving and paying down debt. Any money I saved had to be used for moving and general life expenses that came up. We have paid down debt and plan to have an account paid off by June. I am also super close to paying off a student loan, and I can have the other paid off this year. It feels like it's taken a million years.

May goals:

  • Declutter a bit more, pack and move into our new apartment! 
  • Find freelance writing and editing work.
  • Continue half-marathon/marathon training, and beat my previous half-marathon time at the Chicago Spring Half. I want to set a PR, but I don't know if that's realistic given my times during recent long runs.
  • Limit personal spending to $50 a week. 
  • Grow my blog community and social media presence. Won't you help a girl out?
  • Live in the moment despite the anticipation of what's to come. We have some big changes on the way, and I want to be able to enjoy the journey instead of letting stress kill my vibe.
What are your goals this month? Share them with me in the comments!


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