How you doin’?

How you doin’? <—said in my best “Joey” voice from Friends

But seriously, how ARE you doing today? 

Do you ever take the time to sit back and think about how you feel – I mean, how you really and truly feel? You might ask your sister, or brother, or husband, or wife, or mom, or friend, or colleague. But do you ever take stock of you?

I did that last night, actually during barre n9ne barre fusion class, believe it or not. In the midst of all those plies at the barre and endless shoulder reps, I took time to focus my thoughts inward. I asked myself “how am I doing today? Right now? How do I feel?” And to be honest, it was really the first time I’d ever really thought to ask myself that very question. I usually just go with the flow and spend more time making sure others are doing well (I guess I am a nurturer more than I realize, huh? note to self…) around me.

So anyway, when asking myself these questions, I came up with a few answers:
I feel happy.
I feel strong, sturdy even.
I feel confident.
I feel healthy.
And I feel worked.

And I know I’ve been saying this a lot, but I can’t help myself – much of these emotions I’m feeling are due to the incredible experience that is the barre n9ne 60-day challenge. Sure, I’ve been working on confidence and self-image for awhile now as you know, but feeling as strong and as “worked” as I do right now is most certainly due in large part to what we’ve been doing with barre n9ne and through half marathon training too, can’t leave that one out – it’s  a biggie.

So I guess my point with today’s post is this – that we all deserve to take time for ourselves. To really think about how we’re feeling, if what we’re doing is making us happy, making us feel whole. Similar to what Melissa started over at her blog, I think we need to start taking time for us – even just that mental 5 minute temperature check where you ask yourself “how you doin'” from time-to-time. You might be surprised by your own response.

Which leads me to my next question – warning, this takes participation, and I hope you’ll partake!

Just take just a couple of minutes today to ask yourself this:  “How you doin’?” and report back. Give me five words to describe how you are feeling today. Let’s call it “Temperature Check Thursday.”


On modifications…

So today I’m all about modifications. Three of them, specifically (and somewhat random, I must say).

Modification #1: mustard greens
My husband and I are giving the whole farm-share thing a whirl this season and so far it’s been awesome. Lots of leafy greens have been coming our way – in the form of bibb lettuce, red leaf lettuce, mixed greens (I’m in salad heaven over here), Kale (I have yet to experiment with) and…mustard greens. Huh? What the heck do you do with mustard greens? As it turns out, you can use them like you would swiss chard (which we actually just got in our pick-up last night, woo!) or spinach.  Last night’s dinner included mustard greens – made this way, but with two modifications: no sesame oil and the addition of red pepper flakes for some kick. In a word – YUM.

Mustard Greens (of course all of these items we eyeballed, there is no measuring in the Sutera household!)
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound mustard greens, washed and torn into large pieces
2 to 3 Tbsp chicken broth or vegetable broth (vegetarian option)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
red pepper flakes, to taste

In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant. Add the mustard greens and broth and cook until the mustard greens are just barely wilted. Toss with sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper. (and red pepper flakes!)

Modification #2: 4.5 miler vs. the planned 6.5 miler this AM
It was juuuust a titch on the muggy side this morning and I knew the minute we set out on our run that 6.5 miles would be rough. Aside from the mugginess, my legs were feeling heavy from last night’s barre n9ne workout (which ended up being a double – arms & abs followed by lean & tone, a nice combo I must say). So rather than push myself to get the planned 6.5 done (merely because it was “planned”) – I listened to my body and ran 4.5 and was totally happy with that. Even though the run itself was really hard all around, I got ‘er done and that’s all that matters in the grand scheme of things. Yeah?

Modification #3: I’m free! 
Yes friends, I finally went free, as in commando (TMI much, haha) on my run this morning. My fab friend Juliana at barre n9ne urged me to give it a whirl, telling me I’ll never go back after I run without those undies getting in the way of a good run. And you know what? My running shorts with the little built in undies worked like a charm. I wasn’t distracted by the uh, “bunching effect” if you will and could focus on the run instead. I know, I’m weird and just told you about my underwear issues right here on the blog but hell – it’s my blog, right?? Plus, I”m a giant dork and couldn’t resist including this little nugget of info in today’s post. It fit into the “theme” so well and all. 😉

So there you have it – on modifications. Work ’em into your routine, mmk? Any good modifications, tips or tricks you care to share (TMI or otherwise!) on this fine Wednesday morning?? Do tell. 😉

I got owned by the Barre

I have to admit something:

I got owned by the Barre last night.

Although I left that barre n9ne class practically wimpering (thank you Julianna!!), I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I walked out the door of the studio last night.

I distinctly remember looking around the room and all I saw was power, strength, sweat and a whole helluva lot of sheer willpower.

At one point, I looked down at my legs while we were in Julianna’s new favorite move at the barre – in this plie move with one leg in front of the other, on our tippy toes (as if in a pair of stiletto heels) doing those teeny tiny up/down movements I’ve mentioned that are at the very crux of barre style workouts. I looked down at my legs and then glanced at my neighbor’s legs, and kept on going down the barre. It was just so very cool and amazing to see every single one of us working as hard as we possibly could…if for no other reason than to not give up.

And then it hit me – THIS is why I love barre/non-barre workouts at barre n9ne so very much. It forces me NOT to give up.

So even though that barre totally and utterly owned my a$$ last night, I did NOT give up. If you could’ve seen the look on my face – my face all scrunched up in determination, eyes shut at some points of the class, exhaling during the “working” part of every move.

I was struggling, sure.

But I did NOT give up.

Owned. Yes. But not a quitter.

Case in point: I’ve secretly been dying to get through the killer shoulder series at the beginning of the barre n9ne method class (this series also appears in fusion, lean & tone…basically every single class I take at barre n9ne except for long & lean legs!). And guess who owned that shoulder workout tonight?? Yep, that would be me. Owned it!! Got through the whole shoulder series without stopping!

So my two questions for you today? When was the last time you were utterly owned by a workout? (felt awesome, didn’t it?). Conversly, when was the last time you owned a workout (and felt equally awesome as a result)?

Because BTW, it’s show and tell day at EatDrinkBreatheSweat. So please, share away, please. 🙂

Let’s rock this week, shall we?

I hope ya’ll enjoyed my picture-filled post from yesterday – I tried to include as many shots as I could since I so rarely include lots of pictures in my posts. It was an amazing weekend, can’t say it enough!

<oh and before I forget, check me out at InMyTummy, I wrote a guest post for Lee while she’s been in Mexico celebrating her anniversary. It’s all about barre, what else?? ;-)>

But alas – the week is upon us and guess what? I’m ready to rock this week. Just about three weeks left of the barre n9ne challenge and I’m itching for a butt-kicking this week. I’m also itching to continue to up those miles so I have some good, longer runs on the books for the week. And I’m ready to kill it.

Know what else I’m ready to kill? The food log – which I must say, I am damn proud of myself for keeping things well under control this weekend in NYC. I made smart choices, ate mindfully, but I enjoyed myself. I didn’t feel deprived – and on the flip side, I didn’t feel like I gorged myself at all. Which is quite the change for me when it comes to vacations and weekends away. I have the tendency to really stuff my face overdo it when it comes vacations so the fact that I stuck to my food log (for the most part) and still came away from the weekend feeling happy and content? That is a huge step for me. Another “win” on what continues to be an awe-inspiring 60 day challenge. Can’t say it enough.

So let’s get to it, shall we? Are you ready to rock this week like nobody’s business?? Here’s my plan (like I always say, blogging out my workout schedule for the week is huge for accountability!):

Sunday – rest (lonnnng day of driving home from NYC!)
Monday – 5.0 mile run in the AM: barre n9ne method in the PM
Tuesday – no AM run (sniff!); barre n9ne lean & tone in the PM
Wednesday – 6.5 or 7 mile run in the AM
Thursday – 6 mile run in the AM (rundate style!); barre n9ne long & lean legs; barre n9ne fusion in the PM
Friday – rest
Saturday – aiming for an 8 miler

(Almost) Wordless Sunday or NYC in pictures

Amazing weekend in NYC. Knocked off a bucket list item. Spent lots of time with some of my favorite people. Embraced the mirror. And celebrated love…

“Cozy” room at the Yotel (really cool hotel, I must say)

Like I said, embracing that mirror! This is us before a delicious dinner at Bar Americain (Bobby Flay’s restaurant) to celebrate 7 years all over again…

(isn’t he cuuuuute?)

Running through Central Park (um, it was as awesome as I’d hoped!)

Our sweaty selves (totally posted this picture even though I hesitated because it’s not the most glamorous shot but then remembered Dorry’s post recently and stuck it in here…perfectly imperfect, yeah?)

Celebrating love – a gorgeous wedding in Central Park at the Shakespeare Garden. Perfect. ❤

Of bucket lists and resolutions

So – as I was getting ready to draft my post today, which I fully intended to be short and sweet (best intentions, I swear!), I stumbled on  my 2011 resolutions post.

I was really just digging around trying to find the “bucket list” post I wrote awhile back. Why? Because I’m about to knock something off my bucket list that I probably never even mentioned as one of my “bucket list, fitness-style” goals.

But alas, it *is* a bucket list item of mine:

I’m going to run in Central Park this weekend!! 

Seems like such a small thing – especially if you live in NYC and Central Park is just another park to you – but for me, it signifies the quintessential running experience, somehow. I’m not even really sure why, but for me – it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m really excited that I’ll get that shot over the weekend.

I’ll be in NYC to see one of my favorite friends get (re) married to her total soul mate. They are actually getting married right in Central Park (so NO RAIN, please!) which I think is just the coolest thing ever. I promise to take lots of pics to share – including a few of me rocking a new dress that I am hoping looks pretty killer after all this work I’ve been putting into things. 😉

But back to the whole resolutions and bucket list thing – I was re-reading my 2011 resolutions post and it dawned on me: I’ve almost killed the entire list already and we’re only halfway through the year! 

For example:
I’ve kicked fat talk to the curb – and I do believe it is gone for good. Yes, please.

I’ve gotten over my hatred of yoga/pilates style workouts – um hello, barre n9ne challenge!!

I’ve signed up for my next half marathon. Oh yes, I have. Bring it on, baby!

I’m learning to give myself a bit of a break – letting my Type-A tendencies go just a wee bit. I can’t say I’ve killed this one (yet) but hey – work in progress, right?

The only thing I haven’t touched yet is the whole I wanna do a triathalon thang. I kinda need to learn to swim first. Oops. Have gotten nowhere on that one. Note to self – teach self to swim at the lake this summer.  Um, maybe??

Oh – and while I’m at it, another item I’d like to add to my “bucket list” for this year? A return to NYC for a barre bootcamp weekend – an idea I concocted with Dori. I think it’s a pretty fab concept, personally. I’m trying to get Sam at Mom at the Barre, Jess at FitChickintheCity and Ali at AliontheRun (so I can convince her that barre workouts ARE truly awesome afterall, haha). Anyone else want in on this party?? 😉  (Tanya and Jo, perhaps?)

And with that – I’m off to get my workday accomplished (very long to-do list, oy) and then the road trip to NYC begins bright and early tomorrow morning (with a packed cooler – gotta keep my game face on, challenge-wise, food log, I will continue to own you!).

Weee! 😉

The mirror

What I see in the mirror today – 30+ days into the barre n9ne challenge – is quite different from what I would say I “saw” just a month or two ago.

Previously, mirrors revealed flaws.

Mirrors left me questioning, wondering, wishing.

Now, mirrors reveal something new:






When I looked in the mirror during Monday’s barre n9ne method class, I made a point of staring at myself in the mirror. Without shame. I stared at my legs as we plied and plied and plied some more. I stared into my own eyes and watched them sparkle with joy (yes, I find joy in the oh-so-painful barre work that makes up much of that class!).

And for the first time – the mirror didn’t make me question, wonder, wish.

Instead, the mirror showed me the good in me. Not the flaws.

Sure I still have flaws. We all do. But I didn’t see them this time. I looked past them and saw the good, the things that I’m proud of. It felt like a breakthrough.

And once again this reminds me that I am so grateful for this (barre n9ne) opportunity.

So I urge you – next time you look in that mirror, do not let it “show” you the flaws. Let that mirror “show” you all of the things that you’re proud of. The freckles on your nose or arms or chest. The way your shoulders stand proud when you stand with proper posture. The way your face might not be totally symmetrical, but is still perfectly imperfect. How your eyes look when you smile back at yourself in the mirror. Look for beauty. How does it make you feel?

barre n9ne –what’s working (for me)

<warning – uber long post, sorry!>

Well, a lotapparently. 😉

But seriously – I figure a lot of this barre n9ne challenge feels a bit like a mystery to all of you so I thought I’d break it down a little bit more for you. Especially the “what’s working” piece.

I’ve already talked a little bit about what makes a barre-style workout so awesome, but I thought I’d dig a layer deeper and talk about why this particular style of workout works so well – not just the barre classes, but the non-barre work, too. And as usual, this is coming from me, the non-fitness professional – just a diehard wannabe fitness professional. 😉

The barre n9ne challenge – what’s working for me:

The food log – this is at the top of the list for a reason. Admittedly, the food log scared the pants off of me at first. And it scared me for a reason, clearly. I needed it. In a big way. In a MUCH bigger way than I realized going into this challenge. I was so afraid I’d feel utterly chained down and restricted and that I’d hate every second of the log. Instead, it’s turned into an amazing tool, and a giant eye-opener. Not that I was eating bad – I wasn’t. I was just eating a lot more calories than I needed – albeit healthy foods made up most of that list, but like I said, it was too many calories for what my body needed. The whole “calories in/calories out” rule totally applies. Now, I eat the same amount of calories regardless of it being a Tuesday or a Saturday. I might be having wine on Saturday vs. on Tuesday but I’ve learned to plan for those indulgences. Instead of eating all that I want AND having a couple of glasses of wine, I’m eating a little bit less (or going for foods that are less calorically dense) so that I can afford to have a glass of wine (or chocolate brownie or whatever) on a Saturday night. Before this, I used to routinely have a cheat weekend day where nothing was off limits. Calories didn’t matter. Oy. Not anymore. And surprisingly, I’ve adjusted to the “planning” aspect of the weekends ridiculously well. I’m personally shocked that it’s not been nearly as painful as I thought. Um, wow. I’ve been jabbering on about this food log here, I guess I should’ve written a whole post just on that, who knew!?

Moving on…

Lotsa reps and teensy tiny movements – I sort of covered this in my last post on what makes these workouts so awesomely effective, but I wanted to make the distinction between the barre work and the none-barre workouts that make up the barre n9ne challenge. As I’ve said, those barre workouts are incredible with their tiny up/down movements that leave lasting “damage” effects on those legs and that butt. It’s the isolation of each body part combined with a ridiculously long set of those tiny moves per body part this is killer. The light weights used for each exercise (either bodyweight – at the barre, during planks and pushups – or very light 1-3 lb dumbells) is also pretty critical here. Light weights/high reps is an endurance style of weight training – it’s meant for increasing your overall endurance and typically produces leaner muscles than heavier weight training routines do (that focus on power vs. endurance). And this is why I love it. For the first time, I’m seeing more defined muscles. They look “pretty” versus “jacked” – if that distinction makes any sense! And NOT that “jacked” isn’t a hot look – because it totally can be – but for me, I’m digging the “pretty” defined/lean look my body is starting to take on. I credit the balance between the barre work and the non-barre work for that. I’d call the non-barre work a more focused concentration on core and upper body strength with barre work focused more on lower body conditioning (though, there is PLENTY of lower body conditioning happening during the leg work in Tanya’s long & lean legs class, lemme tell ya!).

Cardio – Although barre n9ne classes are a major focus of this challenge, cardio is an important component as you’ve no doubt seen by now. Especially since I so-very-smartly decided to sign up for another half marathon in the midst of the barre n9ne challenge! So, mixed in with barre n9ne classes, as most of you have seen, I’ve been running 4 (sometimes 5) days a week. I definitely put this in the “what’s working” for me category of the challenge. Personally, my body responds best when I’m doing a good amount of cardio so I knew I couldn’t nix it from my routine during the challenge. I made sure Tanya knew this going into things – my one caveat was “I can’t stop running” to which she happily obliged. Thank god! 😉

I guess what I’m trying to say here is this – at it’s very basic, the barre n9ne challenge has been about three things:

Healthy eating;
total body conditioning;
and cardio.

Essentially – a very well balanced and focused wellness program – but one that absolutely requires 100% 24/7 dedication. But it’s a wellness program that works. Like 6 inches gone, “works.” It’s stunningly effective and I *almost* want to hit fast-forward to see where we land in 30 more days. But then, the challenge would be over and well, I’m just not ready for that yet. 😉

I hope this rambly, wicked long post explains some of the “why it works” for all of you. If not, I promise you’ll see a post from Tanya soon that goes into more detail (since she *is* a fitness professional, hehe). <–and oddly enough? As I was drafting this post up tonight? I noticed that Tanya posted a little bit more on why this program is working on her blog, check it out (so weird, we have ESP or something?!)

Listening, learning ‘n stuff

This past weekend involved some of this:

First strawberries of the season – yum.

And a little bit of this:

Much-needed “present” time with loved ones – this is us on our “date night in” after strawberry picking (which was a reward for a particularly tough mentally – and physically – training run…but we won’t go back to that run, onward, right??)

This weekend also involved a rest day – which brings me to my main point of today’s post – on listening and learning.

Last week’s little surprise sickness-from-nowhere was a great reminder to maintain balance – something you all know I try very hard to maintain.  So I’m listening to my body and learning to include more rest – something I believe I fully need  (and deserve – you’ll see why in a sec) right now to perform my best, to feel my best, to do my best.

And with that – here is my workout plan for the week:
Sunday – rest
Monday – 6.5 miler in the AM; barre n9ne method in the PM
Tuesday – barre n9ne lean & tone in the PM
Wednesday – 5 miler rundate with the sis in the AM
Thursday – 6 mile rundate with the sis (and Scott) and barre n9ne long & lean legs; barre n9ne fusion
Friday – rest
Saturday –  4-5 mile run…in Central Park!! (we’ll be in NYC all weekend! More on this later)

You’ll note two things:  two rest days and yes, one less day of running (sob!) which was a lot harder for me to “agree” to than the rest day! I’m in that mode where I’m sincerely LOVING every workout and just want more, more, more! And even though I know I can do more, I am going to listen. Instead of five days of running plus 4-5 days of barre n9ne classes, paring that back to *just* four days of running will make a big difference. Especially as I continue to up the miles in preparation for the YuKanRun half in August. I mean really – what’s one day less of running in the grand scheme of things? I might miss my little bunny friends in the morning on Tuesdays but that’s ok – I’m listening and learning, right?

So there you have it – listening, learning ‘n stuff.  I’ll be back later to fill ya’ll in on the NYC plans for next weekend and to chat more about this whole barre n9ne thing, less than 30 days to go – and more inches to be lost. 😉


Sixeggs in a half dozen.

Sixsides on a dice.

Sixstrings on a guitar.


Sixinches lost. 30 days into the barre n9ne 60-day transformation.


Nevermind my sister who lost over EIGHT inches, overall.

In 30 days.

I am floored. I honestly went into this challenge with no expectations other than to see *some* change. To learn a lot. And to have some fun along the way.

30 days in and I’ve gained (or lost!) so much more:

a real friendship in Tanya, the owner and lead instructor at Barre N9ne (and awesome blogger, check her out!). She truly cares about us and has been an amazing source of inspiration and encouragement. I feel lucky to have met her through this challenge. And I sense great things to come between the three of us, 60 days in and beyond.

more confidence in my abilities. And a willingness to trust my body to do what my mind doesn’t always think is possible. And watching change happen almost before my eyes.

an even stronger bond with my sister, my sister who has struggled recently with body image issues. To see her eyes sparkle again with pride, to see it in her text message to me right after we got off of our skype chat with Tanya last night (where she revealed our inches lost) that said: “wow :)” And I knew, just by that short text, that she was REALLY damn proud of herself (and me). It made my heart swell with joy.

losing inches. Like legit inches lost. Six to be exact. I am still in total awe.

I’m in total awe yet now I am that much more motivated to keep my game face on (within reason, don’t worry!) for the last 30 days of this challenge. And — I’m incredibly thankful. Thankful to Tanya for giving us this amazing opportunity. Thankful that my body has not let me down. Thankful that this challenge isn’t over yet! 😉

So, like I said when we kicked off this challenge in May, I’ll say it again…Bring. It. On.