Pilates

My body is pretty clear about what it likes and doesn’t like. I’ve talked before about how spinning, thoupilatesgh great for many, just is not my jam.

I’ve also talked about how I really love doing Yoga. I go through phases of enjoying running. And love to lift regularly.

But, truth be told, there is one type of exercise that I rarely do that my body looooooooooves. Have you guessed it yet from the title of this article and supplemental picture?

Well done, super sleuth. It’s Pilates.

I rarely do it because it can be pretty pricey. I learned that my body looooooooooved it when I lucked into finding a new instructor years ago in Chicago who needed teaching hours so was able to teach and use equipment for free. I just recently lucked into the same situation here and have reaped the benefits of a really kind, really great teacher giving me free one-on-one classes.

And I seriously come aliiiiiiive afterwards.

Briefly, here’s why I love it. I love efficiency, and Pilates is efficient as hell. Do this move four times and you’ll be sore for a week. The one-on-one attention allows the instructor to look at how your body is compensating for the weaker spots and you can adjust accordingly. I can see the subtle tendencies between the sides of my body and what areas tend to takeover and make up for the lazier and lacking ones. I’ve got really tight hip-flexors that try and do all the work for my lazy ass abs. But Pilates doesn’t let your hip flexors do that. It calls that shit out, gives your hip flexors a rest and makes your abs pull their own damn weight for once.

Not only that, but I find myself thinking about pilates maneuvers and moves long after my session is over. When I run, now, I tell my abs to step up so my hip flexors don’t have to do all the work in the run. I focus on subtlety in form and check in with all parts of my body to see if and where I’m over-compensating.

I’ve barely scratched the surface and I’m legitimately obsessed.

Soon my girl will cost a pretty penny to do one-on-one classes, and I’m glad she’ll be earning some money. But it means I’ll have to pull back on my regularity for lessons for now. Though, who knows, I could come into a lot of money soon and I have a feeling most of it will be going towards Pilates. That and adorable dog costumes for my friends with dogs. But also mostly Pilates.

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Inside Out Shirt

success kid shirtYou’ll notice that I do my best on this blog to never gym shame anyone. Unless it has to do with basic gym etiquette (or sometimes basic human etiquette).

But you won’t hear me making fun of people. Part of that is I just in general have a policy of kindness. But part of it is because I recognize that I often don’t have all my sh*t together, so far be it from me to point out somebody else’s shortcomings.

Case in point: I saw a woman the other day with her shirt inside out. I thought, “Come on lady. Check your shirt.” Then I caught myself judging, realized it was just because I was exhausted while working out and trying to find something else to think about, and made myself find three things about her to compliment in my mind. I felt guilty for passing judgement (I’m Midwestern. Feeling guilty comes naturally.), so I made myself do kindness penance.

And, wouldn’t you know it, a couple weeks later, I’m at the gym and realize midway through my workout that I had my shirt on inside out.

I could have gone and changed, but I figured “Meh. Such is life” and let it go.

Because we’re all human and we have days we’re more “off” than others. And I figured anyone who noticed wouldn’t care. And anyone who would notice and care about such things wasn’t worth my time anyway, so I shouldn’t care.

Because…

be-who-you-are-and-say-what-you-feel-because-those-who-mind-dont-matter-and-those-who-matter-dont-mind-11

Doubling Up

I went through a phase last month where I wasn’t able to work out all that much. While I didn’t like it, I no longer let myself get really bent out of shape about it. I was doing my best and my time just wasn’t such that I was able to get to the gym regularly. So be it. It happens sometimes.Exhausted-300x225

Part of what kept me calm was the knowledge that life is about phases and I would soon have a much calmer schedule that would allow me to get to the gym with the regularity that I like. So I started scheduling myself to do more classes and carve out specific times where I could make it to the gym and whip myself back into the shape I like to be in (or even better… because we always like improvement, dowenot?).

So that’s what I did. Starting the first day I was available in April, I’ve been hitting up the gym regularly and classes I don’t normally go to in order to challenge my body and start to see some definite results.

Some nights, I even go from a difficult full body workout class right into another full body yoga class. I feel it when I do this. I’m not in as good of shape as I think I am. I remember the days of 3 hours of sports practice after school, but my body doesn’t yet remember how to pace itself for that.

But I’m learning. And I’m challenging myself. And I’m doing my best. And I don’t want to choose just one class because I currently have time for both and I won’t always have that luxury. So I want to take advantage of it while I can and see what I can accomplish.

I’m not in high school anymore. I don’t need to partake in 2-a-days. I don’t have anything specifically I’m training for. But that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to push myself while I have the luxury of time and just see what happens.

Besides, with the schedule that I keep, it could be that I won’t have time in most of May for exercising as much as I like to. So we gotta live for the moment and ride these whims when our body wants it. Even when it causes our body to be sore and exhausted. It also feels challenged and exhilarated. And that’s a good feeling.

 

Tampon

tamponListen. I’m not gonna call myself a Saint.

But… I’m basically a Saint.

I mean, I changed someone’s life significantly for the better. I made a difference. I showed a major act of kindness without any expectation of reciprocation.

If that doesn’t qualify me, I don’t know what will.

Probably writing about it so everyone can congratulate me on my good deed. Fine then. I guess I’ll continue.

The burden of my new Sainthood is already weighing so heavily on me.

This is what happened. It was a normal day at the gym in the locker room. I had just finished a really Saintly workout, when I went down to grab my things and go feed starving children in 3rd world countries without bragging about how great I am. A woman was next to me in the locker room. I considered giving her a hug just because that’s basically what people naturally want to do with me since I’m such a warm, good person and shit. But instead, I kept my head down and gathered my stuff while praying for world peace.

Then she spoke to me. Beckoned me, really. Because that’s what you do with a Saint.

She asked if I had a tampon.

I hesitated. Only because, as a near-Mother Teresa, I didn’t want to lie to her. I wanted to be honest like my Saintly peers. But I told her I thought so. And then I looked. And I did.

I had an extra tampon.

She had asked everyone else in the locker room for one. But they were all mere mortals. None of them were Saints who plan ahead for something like this. She was actually almost ready to go home and not workout (how easily we lose faith, my loyal followers). But then she asked me. A Saint. And I’m glad she did.

I gave her that dry wad of cotton to stick in her unmentionables to keep her from embarrassing herself and ruining a good pair of underwear. And then I smiled, allowed the halo around my head to glow a little brighter, and floated to my car.

When I got home, I replaced the tampon I gave away in order to prepare for the next woman who may need an incredibly life-changing and generous gesture.

You’re welcome, world.

Love,

Saint Briana of Tampons

Wonder Woman Shirt

IMG_8033 I got a new shirt. Can you guess what kind of shirt? I’ll give you a hint: It’s in the title of this blog post. Still not sure what kind? Hint #2: It’s pictured here. Still no idea? We need to work on your powers of deduction, friend.

This shirt was a gift. It was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend about goals. I told him how one of my goals this year was Wonder Woman related. He liked the concept immediately and adopted his own variation using Batman as a reference. And in order to be reminded of these goals, we bought some goodies to inspire us.

And I’ll be honest with you… it totally works.

I wore my Wonder Woman shirt for the first time yesterday. I loved it. It reminds me of the goal I set for the year. In fact, at one point during the day, I wanted to be lazy and skip an integral part of my routine that I know helps me and I needed to do. I started letting the resistance in and started letting my logic talk me out of what I knew was good for me.

Then I remembered what shirt I was wearing. And I solidly put my foot down and said, “No. We’re going. We’re doing this.”

I say “we” to myself when I hear the multiple voices trying to duke it out for control over my body’s actions. Also because I have multiple personalities.

Anyhoo, point is- I did it. Because I was reminded and inspired by one silly shirt.

So invest in silly shirts. And invest in silliness, you silly pants.

Silly.

 

Crop Top

crop topI never thought I could pull off a crop top. I mean, look at this guy. I don’t look like him!

Growing up, I was always most self-conscious about my stomach. It’s where I hold most of my weight. It’s the last thing to start toning out when I am getting in shape. I’m not shaped like a tiny slender stomached chick. I’m more athletic (when at my best) so only making major cuts and really going out of my way to work it make a difference.

I’ve gone on about this before.

But as I’ve gotten slowly more confident with my body and pushed the limits of my own shape… I’ve ventured out in my dress too. I’ve actually worn crop tops on occasion.

I feel so naughty for even admitting it! AH!

I’m from Indiana. We don’t wear crop tops there. I certainly never wore them or even considered such a dramatic clothing choice. But I’ve slowly let the land of the people who are more bold and confident with their body and clothing seep into my own thinking. I’m not saying my shirts are that short… but sometimes a little tummy can peek out. And I don’t get self-conscious. And I’m proud of that. Not because I look like a photoshopped fitness model. But because I look good. And I work on it.

But more importantly, I work constantly on being ok with me. So if that means wearing modest crop tops without embarrassment because they make me sort of feel like a rockstar, so be it. Bring on the scissors. I’ve got a tiny sliver of stomach to let peep out.

Attitude Adjustment

attitudeI had to check myself before I wrecked myself the other day.

It was the first Saturday of the New Year and I went to the gym in late morning. And, to no surprise, it was packed.

And, unfortunately also no surprise, I immediately became a brat about it.

As I walked in and looked at the crowds of people on the machines and on the equipment, I got testy. I kept thinking somehow they were in my way. I felt so self-righteous that this gym was my gym. And that they were in my way. And how dare they even consider slightly inconveniencing me.

In short, I was a little biatch about it.

But halfway through my workout (when the endorphins started kicking in and I was calmer than before), I realized I was the one with the problem. Here are a bunch of people who, sure, don’t really know what they’re doing yet at the gym. But you’ve got to start somewhere. They were not at all getting in my way. It’s not like I go there with a really clear training plan of certain exercises I have to hit and certain goals that have to be attained. Usually I go with a body group that I’m going to focus on for the day. And then I look around and see what’s available.

These people weren’t my enemies. They were my new friends.

Sure, many of them may not stick around past February. But some of them will. Some of these people will have made it their New Years Resolution to get in shape and go to the gym all the time, and this will be the very exciting start of that journey for them. These are more people I now have something in common with. New people with whom I can talk working out with. New people who can complain about the lazy people who don’t return their free weights with.

It’s so easy to think you’re entitled to something. So much of our world today makes you believe you are entitled to whatever you want in the exact circumstances you want it and exactly when you want it. IWWIWWIWI, I believe is what it’s called (I Want What I Want When I Want It). I wanted to have the gym completely quiet and to myself. I wanted to be able to choose any time and go without any convenience to me. I wanted to have access to all the equipment I could possibly want for my workout at any given time even if I wasn’t using it or didn’t end up needing it.

Entitlement is gross.

I’m not proud of my attitude that day. But I am glad to be reminded that it’s so easy to fall back into a negative mindset. It’s easy to forget that other people are not your enemy. I live in Los Angeles…like millions of other people. If I start getting frustrated at crowds or traffic or whatever, I’ll never be satisfied in this city. Or any city. In fact, if I start wanting everything in my environment to be exactly how I want it without any distractions, I might as well move to a tiny hermit shack in Montana and hide from the world.

I’m not proud to say that I’ve considered this at times.

Then I remember, I love people. I love LA. I love being out of my comfort zone and having shared experiences and the excitement of a crowd. The only reason there’s even a gym close to me is because there are lots of other people who are members. I don’t keep it alive on my tiny membership fee alone. If there weren’t lots of people who belonged, I’d have to go somewhere else.

We need each other.

So I have to wait an extra few minutes for the leg press machine in January because some girl is doing 20 sets of 10 lbs. Whatever. No big deal. She’s gotta start somewhere. And I’m not going anywhere. So I’ll wait.

And I’ll be sure to check myself before I wreck myself.

Armband

armandI got a little luxury lately.

It’s really not a big deal.

It’s a minor change. Something I used to have but didn’t upgrade and lived without for years.

Can you guess what it is?

I’ll give you a hint.

It’s pictured here.

I got an armband for my iPhone while I workout.

I’m really excited about it.

It’s so simple, I know. I just never made the commitment to getting one because I always tucked my phone (which I keep around for music purposes not for phone calls, silly) in my pants. Or sometimes in the back of my bra.

Yeah, it was sweaty. Yeah, it often slipped down and caused me to embarrassingly have to go chasing for it. Yeah, it was uncomfortable. But it was cheap so I liked it.

But I finally caved and got an armband. Well, to be fair, my mother bought it for me for Christmas. Because we all know I don’t spend money on such frivolities (god, I really do sound like such a scrooge!).

The point is, I’ve used it every day. And I love it. And it’s wonderful.

Sometimes you really should invest in the little things that can make such a big difference.

Back to Running… Reasonably

homerI’ve talked a lot about running and lifting on this blog. If you don’t feel like getting totally caught up, here’s the story in a nutshell: I used to run a lot. Then I hurt myself. Now I lift a lot.

There. You’re basically caught up on two year’s worth of posts.

There is a part of me that misses running regularly. It won’t ever become my go-to exercise since I think I’m much more suited for the lifting lifestyle (and a much bigger fan of the results). But I find running to be extremely honest. If you run regularly, you will get better at it. If you haven’t run in a long time, you cannot fake being good at it. It will hurt. And you have to push yourself through the pain (but not too hard… otherwise you’ll end up with problems like me) over and over again until you get back in shape. And it’s humbling. And I like to be humbled.

But this year, I’m prepared. I’m of course going to continue my regularly scheduled gym routine (because I find it the most efficient and effective for me), but I’m also going to add back in little bits of running. Even if it’s just a mile here, a set of interval sprints there, ten minutes on the treadmill…whatever. And I’m prepared because I got a specialty running sock that supposedly helps when you’ve got a messed up club foot like I do.

It’s not a traditional club foot. I call it a club foot because it hurts like I’ve been standing in heels in da club for hours after ten minutes of running.

Anyhoo, I’m excited about it. And because I’m all about being reasonable this year, I think it’s a reasonable compromise between my present lifting self and my past runner.

New Years Prep

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black backgroundIt’s coming. Just a few short weeks away. It’s coming.

And if you’re anything like me, you not only plan your New Year’s Resolutions weeks in advance, but you constantly recommit to goals throughout the year. The holidays are alright but New Years is when the type A planners like myself who love goals and productivity really feel like giddy little kids.

As excited as I am, I’m already anxious. I’m anxious at the number of people who will be at the gym again. I’m anxious about how many people will be setting themselves up for unachievable goals without action plans associated with them and how I will have to see them slowly get frustrated as the months wear on. I’m anxious I’m going to overshoot my own goals and be thrown off when life has obvious other plans for me.

But I know that the anxiety means I need to be realistic about what I want to accomplish and how to achieve it. And it means I need to make sure I keep up my meditation so I can keep my wandering mind in check. So if you haven’t yet thought about New Years, start thinking about it. Because it’s never too early to plan and it’s never to late to start!

I just made that up. Just now. I kinda like it. I’ll probably hate it by the time I actually publish this post because I ‘ll realize how silly it sounds, but whatever. I like it for now so I’m keepin’ it.