Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cardio Barre Is My New Therapy

I recently started taking my first ever Cardio Barre class.  

If you've never heard of Cardio Barre it is a full body workout class that helps lengthen muscles, lose weight, correct posture and increase fitness.  It was created by a former professional dancer, and the exercises are based on ballet moves.  It's particularly good for anyone with old injuries because it does not put stress on joints, and here are no jumping or kicking motions. 

Let me start by mentioning that when I was younger I had many years of formal ballet and other dance training. So I am often attracted to classes that incorporate dance movements. I assumed this class should be relatively easy for me since I am familiar with the poses and ballet exercises.  Initially I couldn't decide on whether or not I should sign up for the beginner class or a more advanced class.  I decided to start in the beginner class since this was my first try at Cardio Barre.  

Man, was I glad I chose the beginning level!   I have to say I was very surprised on my first workout on the level of intensity and difficulty.  This workout will definitely test your limits and get your heart rate up.   If you are looking for a workout that will really amp up your fitness level, this is it!  I am definitely going to stay in the beginner class for a while! 

Now I know this is just the type of workout I have been searching for.  It combines all of the elements I love in a great workout like cardio, muscle lengthening strength moves, ballet and dance poses, and stretching; while leaving out some of the things I try to avoid, like too much pressure on my joints. 

So after saying for months that I wanted to take a class, I finally just signed up. I go on weekend mornings when my husband can stay with the kids.  It's only a couple of times a week, but it has been enough to make some really positive changes to my everyday life.

I spend most of my time being a stay-at-home mom (working part time from home) so I am always with my kids and most of my energy goes towards meeting their needs.

Like many other moms I often feel somewhat lonely, isolated and feel like I have lost myself - my identity as a person.  I often feel like I'm not really ME anymore, but instead I'm 'the mother of my kids'.  That is not necessarily a bad thing!  I love my kids, and want to give them all the attention and love that they want and need. But, the loss of my own interests and hobbies, not to mention my career can make me feel somewhat depressed at times.

So, initially when I started taking this class, my goal was to just get back into shape and do something for myself, by myself, for a change.  It has turned out to be the best decision I could have made for my life right now.  It gives me a chance to be by myself for a bit, and focused completely on myself.  The instructors at the place I go for classes are so inspiring, they push me to be my best and give 100% intention and intensity to my workout.  I know that there are many classes that can have this same effect whether it's yoga or running or a pottery class or whatever. But, I just wanted to share how much I love this class, and how good it has been for me, my health, fitness and most of all, my sanity ;)

My instructor said to us last week:
"The only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday". 

In a perfect world, all the mothers out there should have something like this to help them feel good too.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Peak Challenge

As a huge fan of the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon, I was pretty excited when the tv series came out on Starz last year. 

This is a painting I did inspired by #Outlander - clearly a bit of an obsessed fan girl! But in all seriousness, the book series are probably some of the best books I've ever read.

Of course I started getting my fan girl chops on and following the Outlander cast on social media like every other obsessive fan girl.  In the process I learned that swoon worthy Sam Heughan, the Scottish actor who plays the role of Jamie Fraser, has created a fitness challenge that helps fundraise money to support a charity organization called Bloodwise which helps support blood cancer research.

Here's a promo pic for the program featuring Sam Heughan - super fit (and extremely good looking) guy who climbs mountains and runs marathons.  Not sure I'm even close to that level - but I am excited about my goals!

I became interested in what he was doing, and after connecting with a lot of fantastic Outlander fans who were participating in the challenge, I decided to set my own fitness goals and give it a go. 

The program is called My Peak Challenge  and it encourages participants to set their own health and fitness goals while connecting with others in the community. 

I'm fairly excited about it!  I wanted to join last year but I had just had a baby and didn't feel ready to jump head first into a fitness challenge with a newborn and another toddler at home.

Anyway / my youngest is now 14 months old so now I feel ready to be a part of the #MyPeakPosse #BearStength community.  I just signed up for the My Peak Challenge Prep Program and ordered a My Peak Challenge starter pack - which comes with a really cute t-shirt.

First things first, I need to set my goals.  I'm happy to say that I already did a weight loss challenge shortly after my daughter was born and I have been back to my pre-baby weight for several months now.  So now that I am feeling good about my weight, I am ready to set some more challenging fitness goals.

Sam provides some awesome fitness tutorial videos, nutrition tips and a course plan.  I'm hoping to follow along with the workouts and as much of the plan as I can.   

Since I have a crazy schedule with my kids I'm making my pledge realistic for me to follow - So here is my plan and My Peak Pledge:
mypeakchallenge #mypeakpledge

- I will attend my cardio barre class at least once a week
- I will go for a long walk/ hike with my daughter at least once a week
- nutrition goals - I will eat at least 2 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- Follow along with the program and make adjustments to fit my schedule and fitness level
- I will focus on core strength and toning my butt and legs by doing at least 2 sets of squats (15 each set) and 2 sets of bicycle crunches on at least 3 days of the week.
- I will work hard to increase my daily water intake and carry my water bottle with me everywhere.
- maintain my current weight and improve my muscle tone, energy levels, strength, flexibility and nutrition
- I will limit my intake of alcohol and chocolate to no more than 2 glasses of wine or beer a week and no more than 3 small servings of chocolate a week
- I will log on to myfitnesspal every day until May 1st to track my progress

Okay! Let's do this!