What I Learned about Life from taking a Pilates Reformer Class

Last Monday I got to do something I had been dying to do for two years: take a private Reformer class. And, for those curious about what a Reformer looks like, here is an example:

The instructor lives in a beautiful loft apartment in my town and teaches there to keep costs affordable. I love that! I was excited and nervous about going but mostly eager to be learning something new and getting some hands-on instruction to use in my personal mat practice.

This sweet lady got on to demonstrate and told me I would be doing some innocent sounding exercises called “footwork.” Piece of cake, right? Well, except for the fact that this is Pilates so every exercise is designed to be total body and is never simple.

I loved the lesson and can say I was a bit sore for two days after that! And the biggest takeaway for me was this: Nothing is as easy as it appears to be.

We often watch other people flow through life. Things seem easy and success effortless. But there are always hours of learning, re-learning, sweating, and shaking that precedes any change.

If you are doing Pilates “right,” your entire mind and body are engaged and in the moment. And so it is with life off the mat. But the time spent to learn how to do something right is crucial to living your best life.

So please, don’t compare yourself to others. Try something new. Let yourself be a beginner. And live in deep satisfaction of soul that comes from knowing that you experienced the adventure of being yourself.

What lessons are you learning lately? Head over to my Facebook page and let me know.

Meeting your Wellness Goals in a Perfectly Imperfect World

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I was recently asked some readers for feedback on my Facebook page about what keeps them from meeting their health, fitness, or wellness goals. Here were some of their answers:

  • Distraction
  • Depression
  • Illness
  • Work
  • Children
  • Busyness
  • Unexpected Curveballs
  • Lack of focus
  • Long-term health issues

 

I felt overwhelmed with what these wonderful women shared with me. I wanted to help but I had no easy answers. And what I do know is going to sound so trite. Because it all boils down to this: Life gets in the way of our best-laid plans.

 

 

So what do we do? Especially those of us Type As who want to do it all and do it perfectly?

I recently talked with a friend who was reading a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. While the title was off-putting, I looked into the main point of the book. You know what it boils down to? Embracing imperfections in yourself and the world around you. And not seeing every flaw as something to be improved upon.

And that’s just it. What if we give ourselves a break? What if we look at areas we really struggle with (perhaps getting up early for a workout or not eating lots of sugar) and dig deep into the why of it. Why do I struggle with it? Is it really important to me? Maybe I need to embrace seeing exercise, nutrition, and wellness as something I do “good enough,”  rather than perfectly, always striving for some elusive or impossible goal. What if I make my health, fitness and nutritional goals serve me. Now they’re something I do to improve my ability to enjoy my life and live better. Once I do this it becomes much easier to make a fitness plan that fits into this total package that is my imperfectly perfect life.

So let’s agree to embrace wellness and not just fitness. I think we’ll discover that it changes the dialogue in our minds about our health journey. Sometimes giving ourselves a break can lead to our best breakthroughs.

Cardio For Haters Like Me


Any other Pitch Perfect and Rebel Wilson fans out there? Anyone else out there who wishes Anna Kendrick had the lead and played Bella in Twilight?

Oh, wait…Cardio. I avoid it and avoid talking about it! I love getting up and walking my dog with my husband most mornings but other than that, I am with Rebel Wilson on this one.

I know it’s good for my heart, cholesterol, blood pressure and stress-all inherited family traits, by the way. So a couple of times a week I try to skip my walk and add in some extra oomph. I thought I would share my three favorite free Cardio channels on YouTube with you so you can find something that might work for you as well.

Cocolime Fitness 


A recent find, this is fantastic for beginners or those with conditions that make it hard to exercise. Suzanne is a certified trainer who suffers with fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism so she understands fitness for those of us who aren’t athletic or have medical conditions but who still need to move. She is encouraging and has a wide range of videos with great music. Her site is about way more than cardio, too. Here is a link: Cocolime Fitness YouTube Channel

Pahla B Fitness 

Pahla has a fantastic channel! She is a marathoner and certified trainer and is very responsive to her “Killer Bs,” as she calls her followers. She offers plenty of encouragement and a friend-next-door feel through her wide variety of workouts. I love HIIT (high intensity interval training) because you get a ton of benefits in half the time, haha. I have flat feet and slight scoliosis and hate high impact and burpees! Pahla shines in the area of low impact HIIT and I use those workouts the most. Pahla has a fun group on Facebook, too. Check out her channel here: Pahla B Fitness YouTube Channel

Jessica Smith TV

I have been using Jessica’s workouts for years! She is my favorite in the area of ballet and barre and walking workouts, but you will find everything here! A certified trainer and wellness coach, Jessica offers fantastic cueing, an encouraging vibe, and an adorable French Bulldog named Peanut who makes appearances in her videos. Jessica also has a wide range of professionally produced DVDs and downloads. My favorite workouts with her are Cardio Ball Blast, Cardio Ballet, 9 Minute Low Impact HIIT, and Terrifying Tabata(featuring Peanut in various Halloween costumes, haha).  She offers challenges, Q&As, and much more. Check it out! Jessica Smith TV YouTube Channel 

Now, if you like high impact, running, jumping…go for it! Whatever makes you happy. And on Jessica Smith TV and Pahal B Fitness, you will find high impact and burpees along with the low impact choices~something for everyone.
What do you like to do for cardio? Walk? Run? Exercise on equipment at the gym? Tell me or share your favorite channels or DVDs.

Are you a River or a Pond? Why I Decided to Blog

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I will never forget the day I heard the parable, as I call it, of the river and the pond. It changed my approach to life. Have you heard it?

A pond is stagnant. No inlet or outlet. It sits, still and pretty. And can become a pit of pond scum and bacteria, rendering it unsafe to consume or be in.

A river flows. It has a beginning and an end…a destination. It moves constantly over rocks and branches and its bed, weaving its way to an endpoint to join a larger body of water. That keeps it churning, fresh, and healthier than a pond.

I thought about my life as the parable asked me to do. What was I doing with all I was learning as a stay-at-homeschooling-mama? I taught Bible studies or Sunday School occasionally. I even preached once a year or so (because my husband has an engaging smile and demeanor and I can’t say no to him, haha). But I love learning so I  read a lot and wrote, and studied and kept most of that to myself. I spent years seeking out information on living a full, abundant life as a woman of God in the 2000s.

So along came this blog. I’ve graduated two children and they’re off in college and the work world. I think they’re great and they still want to be around me and ask my advice from time to time. 😉 And I have one at home for two more years who is light years ahead of me in most of his work. But hey, he’s great at tech support and making me laugh and teaching me about higher math and making me think. So I decided I had time to share my life with the “blog world.”

I have no idea if anything I share helps. You’ll find lots of different types of information along the way in my eclectic blogging. But it’s all geared to share and learn and not become stagnant. And the focus is to be women who, at the end of our lives, look back and say, “That was a life well-lived.”

So that’s why I have a hobby blog. No affiliate links as I’m not making any money off of things I share. If that ever changes, you’ll be the first to know. I do add links to other blogs and websites I think you might enjoy and who I give credit to for things but that’s about it. The rest of the information is my “thinking out loud” and hoping you can learn from my life. And as you comment and share with me,  I can learn from yours.

And you take anything you learn from me, as I will, and share it. Let’s give one another rivers of encouragement throughout the ebb and flow of our lives. And channel hope to others.

Thanks for reading, fellow river woman. Go live life well.

No, Mary, I Didn’t Know! The Need to Slow Down and Think

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Hang with me today if you’re not a Jesus person. I am, and a total Bible Study nerd, so that colors my perspective and my worldview. But tucked away in the Bible, in a book called Luke, there are a couple of verses that have the power to help women live life well. I promise not to get preachy, so let’s dig in!

The story is about the birth of Jesus. Mary has been really pregnant, riding on a donkey for days (for which she deserves heaps of credit. Trust me, as a woman who has  given birth three times, when I say that I could not have done that!) She had the baby in a cave and no one was there to help except her husband. But, a group of shepherds showed up and told her angels appeared announcing Jesus’ birth. They were so excited that they ran to see this baby and his mother.

Right after that is the little sentence I want to think about: “Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them.”

Treasured all these things. Always thought about them. Some Bibles say “Pondered” them. It’s sort of like a cow, ruminating with it’s food. Digesting, re-digesting. Pulling all the nutrition it can out of that food. This is what Mary did.

Today is so fast paced and busy. Life is complex and we’re told to multitask, think fast, eat fast, go, go, go. We often have no time to breathe, let alone think or take care of ourselves. But, what if that’s not the way to live? What if we as women are hardwired with a need to think, treasure, reflect? What if we really can live the type of life we want by DOING less and PONDERING more?

For me, this translates into doing something I don’t like: Going to bed earlier. A total night owl, I still go to bed earlier (this took training) so I can get up and begin my day in quiet. I roll out my Pilates mat and move, I make a smoothie or smoothie bowl,  I drink my water, and I slow down and study my Bible. I journal. I think.

What could pondering look like for you? Would it be a “first thing?” Or, would your pondering be better when the baby sleeps, or at night, when everyone is in bed?

So today, I’m thankful for the story of Mary. Of the reminder to BREATHE deeply, think deeply, and treasure my life in my heart. And I want to encourage you to carve out some time to do the same for yourself.