Moving with intention (another proud moment)

At the barre on Monday night, I looked in the mirror and watched as I moved with intention
…the up and down of the bicep curl, making sure to extend all the way to straight and back up, squeezing that bicep in tightly at the top.
…the tuck of my hips, the gentle bend at the knees, shoulders pressing up and down, up and down. Tiny moves. Intentional moves.
…feet in a ‘piece of pie,’ heels connected and lifted high, knees pushing down and out, hips tucked (yet again). Down and hold. Down and hold.  
…glancing over at my sister, beside me at the barre; watching her move with such focus, such strength, such intention.
…remembering how far we’ve come in this barre n9ne journey together.

Yes. These were the thoughts that flooded my brain during class on Monday (remember: brain. It was as if I was on the outside, looking in. Watching myself from afar, almost as if in one of those retrospectives you see in the movies sometimes. Surreal almost.

But really? This entire journey has been surreal. I feel ridiculously lucky, blessed to have found my passion – a passion that has instilled such confidence in me and my sis, and a true sense of self. Finally. After 32 years I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I like who I’ve become.

In fact, I kinda love her. I love how strong she is. I love how happy she is.  And yes, I love how fit she is. But most of all? I love how “me” she is. 

And that makes me so very proud

I used to refer to this barre n9ne challenge and subsequent journey as a total transformation. But then I stopped and thought about it: a transformation almost makes it sound like I’ve become somebody else...but that’s not quite right.
…I’m still me.
…I’m even MORE me.
…Just as I was intended to be all along. 

Moving with intention (another proud moment)… 2012, bring it on, barre-style. 

6 months later, a thank you

Tomorrow is November 12th.

Six months starting the barre n9ne 60-day challenge.

Six months that have changed my life in such a profound way that the words “thank you” simply do not do it justice.

In re-reading one of my first posts just before the start of the challenge, I am surprised (though I shouldn’t be) to see that every single one of my expectations for the challenge came true. A snippet from that post:

I’m excited. For change – in body, but even more so in mind. I want this to reset my thinking on what I believe my body is capable of.  Far too often I think I sell myself short in this area. I have doubts. I don’t always trust my body to carry me through whatever challenge it faces. I want to see that end.

…But I’m ready.
To embrace. 
To let go. 
To learn. 
To transform.  

To say that this challenge changed me physically is an understatement, for sure. I look in the mirror now and am happy with the person I see smiling back at me. I’m no longer afraid of the scale, it does not control me.  My clothes fit better – well actually they fit worse, but that’s because they’re all too big! I guess that’s what happens after shedding more than 15 inches (haven’t done the final measure-in yet!) and yes, some lbs too (though that was never a focus for me during this challenge).

But WAY more important to me than how I look on the outside? How I feel on the inside. Transformed

I’m practically bursting with pride and confidence
I trust myself, my body, to do things I never thought it could do.
I finish what I start,  and not with a wimper through that finish line, but with a bang.
I’m comfortable in my own skin.
I’m happier than I’ve ever been.  

I feel honored to wear the barre n9ne spokesmodel title proudly (I’m even on the website now, check me and my sis out, hehe). I’ve met and hopefully inspired (even if just a wee bit) so many beautiful and wonderful women who are all well on their way to their own refined lives. Paying it forward was such a big part of this experience for me and I love that I’ve gotten to do that through the awesome barre n9ne community that is now bursting with such energy, it makes me smile big everytime I step into the studio.

So today, I sit here feeling so thankfula phrase that *still* doesn’t do the past six months justice. 

Tanya I wish I had other words to use…but this will have to do. Thank you. For helping my sis and I to see what we are capable of. For helping us to recognize that we’re worth it.

If the past six months were this life-changing, I cannot even begin to imagine what the next six months will bring.

6 months later…thank you. 

Community: defined.

Until recently, I never really thought of myself as “community” kinda gal.

I sort of equated anything “community” related as something you feel like you “have” to get involved in, like community service, and stuff like that.

I realize now how silly I was to equate “community” to something so very unappealing (to me).

Last night right before barre n9ne class started, I suddenly recognized that the wonderful, happy, excited, energized women around me is my community: defined.

In the relatively few months that I’ve been part of this community with my sister, I’ve seen it absolutely flourish into an amazing phenomenon. One that I’m not quite sure what I’d do without…it’s become such a passion of mine, not just my own personal growth since starting the barre n9ne challenge in May, but to see other women get involved in the challenge has been nothing short of amazing.

That is community to me. Encouraging eachother to work hard, play hard, and celebrate every single success along the way. Just last night, I was talking to one of the newer challengers who was absolutely bubbling over with pride at the inches she’s already lost just one month into her personal challenge journey. To see her eyes sparkle with pride and confidence and with a huge smile on her face? Awesome.

And then to get a text from my fit friend Steph with her most recent challenge results (which are amazing, she is HOT !!), and my heart soared for her. She finished her text with “happy!” And that made me ridiculously happy for her
…and for all of the women in this beautiful community of ours, who are putting their health and fitness first.
…who are making time for themselves and not feeling guilty for doing so.
…and are becoming confident and happy and in love with who they are today.  Amazing.

So now when I think about “community” — my definition is quite different.  It’s about finding common ground. Above all else. Kind of like this amazing fitness and healthy living community that I am damn proud to be a part of. A beautiful phenomenon…another community where I’ve made friendships that I cherish, with awesome women (and even a few guys!) who I’d never ever have met if not for this blogging thang.

((Community))…it’s a beautiful thing, and something I value so much more than I ever thought I would. 

Is it ‘hard’ or is it ‘challenging’?

The other day I was talking to my sister about her recently-returned running struggles, trying to coach her through how she’s been feeling lately about running.

And I asked her to clarify something for me:

When you have a “bad” run, is it because it’s hard or is it because the run challenged you? 

I think that’s a very important distinction when it comes to running, a conclusion I only recently came to myself. (as for my sis, she’s struggling with something that this girl overcame last year and I *know* my sister can overcome it too…so c’mon, give her your vote of confidence today, mmk?)

I used to always categorize a run as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ the run felt. But it wasn’t until recently, when I find myself hitting my running stride, that I’ve been categorizing the majority of my runs as ‘good’ – but not because they are easy (they are never easy), but because each run is a challenge. Sure, there are moments where I feel like my legs are humming right along without *as* much effort as normal, but 9 times out of 10, I’m pushing it, struggling and slogging through those miles.

But it’s at the end, when I’m huffing and puffing and catching my breath, that I look back at each mile I ran and I’m happy. It was a good run. Because it was a challenging run.

I’ll let you in on a little secret:  Running is not easy for me. Not at all. Every day, every run, tests me physically and mentally. It’s draining. But it’s worth it. This is why I run. Not to achieve as many ‘easy’ runs as I can, but to achieve as many good, challenging runs as I can.

Because really, isn’t that why so many of us have a love/”hate” affair with running? Because it’s challenging. It’s work. It’s an experience I’m endlessly grateful I get to have, especially when I know that others either aren’t able to run at all, or are sidelined with injuries right now.

So next time you lace up and hit the road? Try not to categorize your run as ‘hard’ and instead approach every run as a challenge, a good challenge you’ll happily take on any day of the week. Because you (and I) can.

(editor’s note – for those of you that do not run for whatever reason, this mindset totally applies to any workout that challenges you, not just running. Just thought I’d call that out. :)) 

On finding your ‘happy place’ and befriending the mirror

For those of you who don’t know Erin from The Healthy Apron – first of all, you should – she has a great blog with lots of awesome recipes and insights into living a healthy, happy lifestyle. But second of all, she’s just kicked off an awesome series called “Share your Scale Relationship.” It’s all about finding confidence – with or without the scale, and how we got there. I was thrilled to take part in her series, mostly because I’m just now at a point where I’m finally finding that “happy place” – and I’m proud to say I’ve done that without a scale anywhere near me.

Since that post was such fun to write, I thought I’d capture bits of it here for you – but please do hop on over to Erin’s blog to check out the rest of this post and the rest of the series. It’s an awesome idea!

On how I got to my “happy place…”

Well, I’ll let you in on my secret: it all came down to a real focus on building mental strength. It started out as a way for me to focus on training for my next half marathon in a way that would leave me feeling proud of the race I run vs. focusing on making a certain PR time (and yet another number!). And that focus on mental strength was also applied to a new style of working out (for me) that I’ve since fallen in love with – because, aside from running, it’s the only workout that has built up not only my physical strength but my mental strength and endurance at the same time.

Enter barre n9ne…. something that has paired nicely with my half marathon training – and focusing on believing that my body can and will carry me all 13.1 miles to that finish line…and with a smile on my face. That’s my goal – to finish what I started, and with a smile, not a wimper.

On finding confidence without a scale…

It’s through this experience of mine…that has given me confidence and mental strength. In me. And it’s because I’ve grown to trust my body that I’ve grown to love that body that gets me through as many tough workouts as I can possibly throw at it. No body is perfect – least of all mine. But it’s my body – one that I work hard to strengthen; one that doesn’t let me down; one that I can trust. And THAT gives me confidence. A scale could never give me that level of comfort in my own skin that I’ve always wanted. But finding something I love and focusing on mental strength? It’s given me more confidence than I ever had before. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.

And, my advice on ways to find comfort in your own skin…

Find a workout you love, and make it your own. (for me, it was finding barre n9ne and pairing that with an existing love in running)

…Every single time you workout, focus on trusting your body versus just going through the motions or giving up (on a move, on a new distance, etc.) for fear of your body letting you down. Guess what? If you push through, I can almost guarantee that you’ll surprise yourself and go farther than you think your body is capable of. Do me a favor – next time you face a daunting workout, give this a whirl: When you think you can’t possibly take another step, lift another rep, spin that wheel anymore. Try. Feel your body working hard. Trust it. The feeling of trusting yourself is indescribable.

Embrace the mirror; toss the scale. Next time you look in that mirror, pick out two or three things you love about your body and celebrate it. And the next time you take a peek, pick out two more. The freckles on your nose. The way your nose is just a little bit crooked, perfectly imperfect. The strong arms that carry you through a series of pushups. These are the things about you that make you uniquely you. A scale, a number – it says nothing about who YOU are. Focusing less on that and more on you, the you that you are today, the you that you can trust, mind and body? It’s priceless – and no number could ever properly quantify that fact.


According to Wiktionary, willpower is defined as follows:

Willpower: The unwavering strength of will to carry out one’s wishes

I kind of dig that definition of willpower versus the more-traditional definition that talks about self-control as a form of willpower.

Because truth be told, willpower can definitely be about self-control. As in, I’d rather have scrambled eggs and toast with peanut butter for dinner than those cookies I was talking about on twitter yesterday with Amber, Sam and Jess. 😉

But, willpower can and does mean more than that to me. Especially as it relates to my continued healthy living journey I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Now that the official barre n9ne 60-day challenge is behind me, for example, I’m reevaluating how I approach each class. Asking myself “how can I push myself harder, challenge myself more, experience more?”

The simple answer to that is willpower.

Pushing myself to hold those plies at the barre as long as I can, letting my legs shake versus giving them a break during a set and not getting to that “hurt so good shake” that invokes such change if you let your body get to that “shake” moment in class. This is a big area of focus for me – getting to that shake, focusing on letting my body do something my mind wants to tell me isn’t possible.

…Believing that I can hold that plie for 30 more seconds.
…Believing that my body can handle it and pushing through the flash of self-doubt that happens right before I’m about to give up on those last few seconds.

That’s what I focused on almost entirely during last night’s barre n9ne method class. And you know what? That willpower, that sheer determination to get through the set? Hell, that sh*t works! I held almost every single move at the barre last night for the entire set (count ’em – three sets for every single move…).

…Because I CAN do it.
…I’ve just been letting my brain dictate what my body does.

Similarly, during yesterday’s AM training run, there was probably at least six times when I thought to myself, hmmm…maybe we’ll turn around a little early. Or, maybe this 6.5 miler isn’t meant to be today. Maybe I should do 4 today, 6.5 another day this week. Maybe I should stop.

Hold up. Stop?? Um…no. Not an option.

So, considering I was “option-less” – I did just what I set out to do. I ran 6.5 miles. Even though it was muggy as hell out at 5:15 in the morning. Even though I was lethargic and sleepy because of it. Even though I was so thirsty and just wanted to give in. I ran and I ran. THAT is willpower. Determination. Strength.

As I’ve mentioned to you all before, this training cycle (the half, and the 60-day challenge) has been largely about mental strength and determination. And yes, willpower. This is where I’m discovering new-found confidence. Because I’m finally believing, trusting, commiting.

So yeah, me and willpower? We’re apparently becoming fast friends. I’m thinking maybe BFF’s by the time we get to the half on August 14. What do you think?

Speaking of willpower, confidence and strength – please go check me out over at the barre n9ne studio blog where I pour my heart out about how amazing and incredible the barre n9ne 60-day challenge has been for me. Y’know, since I clearly can’t stop talking about it, thinking about it, walking on clouds because of it. 😉

Barre n9ne week #2 – it’s on!

<Editor’s Note – is it me or did this weekend FLY by in a nanosecond?? I can’t believe I’m typing this up at almost 9pm on Sunday. How did that even happen?? Hmph. Anyway, carrying on…>

Yup, last week – week #1.5 of the barre n9ne challenge – rocked.

Every workout presented a new challenge. A new “way” to sweat. And each time I ran, I took what I’d just learned in barre n9ne and did my best to apply it to running, where possible. And it’s making this girl, very, very happy, indeed.

So what’s on the agenda for barre n9ne week #2? Let’s just say that it’s on – and I’m ready to kill it:

Sunday – speedy 5k
Monday – 5-ish miler in the AM (unless it rains); Barre n9ne signature method
Tuesday – 4-ish miler in the AM; Barre n9ne lean & tone
Wednesday – 5-ish miler in the AM
Thursday – Barre n9ne long & lean legs followed by Barre Fusion
Friday – rest
Saturday – Barre n9ne signature method followed by annual memorial day cookout at the Sutera Manor (that would be the fancy name we gave to our house, hehe)

Looks pretty similar to last week, though this week I’m hoping for 5 chances to run. I’m getting closer and closer to committing to a half marathon (more on this later) so I’m trying ever so hard to get that running mojo going on overdrive.

In the meantime, I’m loving every single second of this challenge (clearly!). I’m loving this time to bond with my sis, I’m loving getting to know some fabulous Barre n9ne instructors (seriously, it’s impossible not to love them!), and I’m loving that I’ve discovered a workout that feels so incredibly life-changing, in a way I really can’t describe. It’s just left such an impact on me – especially in mind, even more so than body.

Barre N9ne week #2 – it’s on.

Me – “refined”

Thanks to a certain blog friend, Melissa – who inspired this very post today. Her “new inspiration” post is what did it. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do.

As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about my body, the changes I’d like to make, the honesty I’m dealing with in facing some habits and such that I’d like to see change – all thanks to the Barre N9NE challenge my sis and I just kicked off this week.

Well? I’ve come to a conclusion – about what my goal is coming out of this challenge, in just 58 days from now.

I’d like to be me – “refined.”

So what does that mean, exactly?

Similar to what Melissa mentioned in her post today, this is about me looking to simply refine who I am. Sure, this has to do with how I look, but it also has to do with how I feel, perhaps even more so…

I’d like to feel as healthy and strong as I deserve to feel.

I’d like to feel confident in my body, trusting that it’ll never fail me (especially when running when those mind games always kick into high gear for me).

I’d like to look just a little bit more fit – feeling as good as the work that I put into my workouts (and into my eats).

I’d like to feel more like the “me” I’ve always wanted to be, but sort of feel like I’ve always come up just shy of. As if I’ve been holding back a little bit. Not allowing myself to reach as far or as high for the stars…as if I don’t trust myself enough to own whatever it is that I put my mind to. (reminds me of something I heard on Biggest Loser this week about Austin…who always gave up right at the end of whatever challenge he faced – a soccer game, a class assignment, whatever)

You’ll notice that none of this is quantifiable. No numbers. No scales. Nada.
Sure – I was measured earlier this week to see where I’ve made changes in the shape of my body. And that’s fine. But it won’t define “success” for me at the end of this challenge.

Success for me at the end of this challenge is simple…

I want to be “me – refined.”

And I can’t wait to meet her.

Core Fusion, live with Fred DeVito

Life changing.

That is the only way I can possibly describe tonight’s Core Fusion class at the newly opened Exhale Spa at Battery Wharf in Boston.

Now, my sis and I took our first live class together yesterday at the same location…it had been at least a year or two since we last attempted a live class. Well before we initiated our Core Fusion Challenge a month or so ago, even.

And lemme tell you, that was an experience in and of itself yesterday.

But when Dori alerted us (love you, girl!) that Fred DeVito – THE Fred DeVito – was coming back to the Battery Wharf location tonight to teach one class, we HAD to be there. Just had to. I left work a full 90 mins early just to get there (and good thing I did, directionally challenged, much??).

And it was completely and utterly life-changing.

I honestly don’t even know how to capture our experience tonight in this post. Words seriously won’t do it justice. But I’ll try.

Fred DeVito, in a word? Has such an amazing presence about him. He’s calm, he’s extremely centered and ridiculously inviting and encouraging. (jobo commentary: hey, you stole my line, that’s exactly what I thought! He was radiant, calm, balanced. And happy. All sorts of happy!)

He immediately asked where his “twitter friends” were – um, that would be us! He welcomed us in with a warm smile and a handshake. And from there, we were off. He instructed us not to listen to his instruction but to just do what he said, without thinking. And you know what? That is EXACTLY how the class went.

I didn’t think. I just moved.

And it was unreal just how motivating it was, and incredibly detoxfying. I even tried some moves I was only modifying before and I was stunned to see that I didn’t do a half bad job at the “real” version of flat back, for example. Just his encouragement was all I needed – he came by during that very move and said “tomorrow – you’ll get there” and just smiled. And I beamed with pride. (jobo commentary: this is where he held my legs up higher and really pushed me, and to my surprise, my legs *did* go higher and I was able to hold it. It felt incredible).

He believes in his students. I mean, TRULY believes. And here I am gushing away, but that’s exactly the reaction he brings out in his students. He instills courage and pride and strength and focus. (jobo commentary: he came over to me as I was doing the curl, lifted my back up and slid his kneees under my back and whispered, ‘lean back. Now hold your arms out wider, lengthen your legs and just hold it.’ And having that guidance was exactly what I needed. And damn, did I feel it, like whoa!)

He wills you to push harder. And you do. No thinking. Just doing.

I’m sitting here in utter awe at how changed I was by tonight’s experience. I am completely and totally re-commited to Core Fusion like never before. Seriously. I want to see even more change, deeper change, by going to the class as much as I can. Fred urged us to commit for three weeks – three classes a week and “then you’ll be hooked.” And I’m right there. (jobo commentary: um, me too. Can I just, like, move in there and go every single day?!)

Thank you Fred DeVito. We are changed. And inspired. And ready to surrender to Core Fusion all over again. 

Core Fusion: She said/She said

That’s what she said.

Oh wait. Different blog post.

<insert giggling like two five-year-olds here>

Rather than have my sis guest blog for me again on how things are going with her Core Fusion Challenge (because she already has a big enough blog ego since that post generated the most hits in a single day to my blog ever…but I digress), I figured we’d “co-blog” tonight instead. (and she’s even claiming this post as “her idea” as I type this…see what I mean about blog ego???). I kid. I kid. Kinda

Moving on.

Let me introduce you to a little segment I like to call: Core Fusion: She said/She said

Favorite Core Fusion move(s)?

She said (that’s me!):The plank! Followed closely by that ab curl (love to hate). The plank is one that always frustrates the hell outta me. We had a “plank contest” at our gym and I was like SO annoyed by the mere thought of it…how the eff can someone plank for MINUTES on end?? I mean, really – who has a plank contest anyway <crosses arms> But now? I think a plank contest would be kinda neat…though I could probably only hold it for like a minute+ but still, progress!

She said (the sis): The ab curl, because no matter what, it’s challenging and I always feel a little stronger after. And any move that will give us ‘high rounded butts” as Elisabeth calls them. I want a nice ass butt for Jamaica dammit! <—me too!

Least favorite move(s)?

She said (that’s me!): For me – it’s gotta be the ab curl to the side, the ones that work obliques. I don’t know why, but doing those are SO much harder for me to do properly than the regular ab curl. Drives me NUTS. I still love to hate the darn things though…what can I say, they work.

She said (the sis): Downward dog. I freakin’ hate those. And you know why? Because there are about five hundred of them in Core Fusion Boot Camp (and Yoga)!

Most improved (so far)?

She said (that’s me!): The flat back/round back series. Wait, scratch that. Make it the round back series – flat back is still much harder for me given how inflexible I am in the quads. But round back? I can pick up my feet for some of those sequences which is a big step for me. Before, it was a lot of shuffling and awkward jerking moves that got me nowhere fast.

She said (the sis): Overall stamina – strength in stillness. Less overall “I’m-gonna-die-this-sucks-this-is-so-hard-I-don’t-wanna” thoughts streaming through my brain. Second most improved? The flat back series. Like my sister, I’m much more graceful than the aforementioned jerking motion outlined above. (Note to Lindsay – sorry, no videos allowed yet, maybe some pics next time now that we’re a wee bit more graceful, i.e. not fodder for blackmail material)


She said (that’s me!): Core Fusion Boot Camp scares me. A lot. As in, I’ve only done it a few times twice. It’s like I need to “work up” to it in my head. If I wait too long into the week to add it to the rotation. It ain’t getting in there. Note to self: do this one on Mondays or Tuesdays when you’re least sore/tired and more likely to bite the bullet. Friday? No chance in hell. (peanut gallery comment: You call that a confession? Wuss!)

She said (the sis): Um. I sometimes once in awhile skip the stretch at the end if I’m running low on time. Please. No scolding. I know this is bad. That’s why it’s a confession. (peanut gallery comment – um hello! We are the LEAST flexible humans on the planet, don’t avoid stretching at the end!! Ok, I’m done. Peanut gallery response: why do you think I hate to stretch?)

Well, now that I totally feel like I have multiple personalities after typing this up, I hope you enjoyed our little Core Fusion Progress Report.

Our grades thus far:

Effort: A+

Enthusiasm: A+

Creativity: eh, not sure where I was going with this one. We’ll give it a solid C.

Commitment: A- (because we can’t give ourselves *all* A+ grades now could we? How presumptuous of us!)