Conundrums

Good morning Readers, and pardon the rambling.

In light of the new year I have been doing some serious self-appraising, soul-searching if you will. I am beginning to learn that there are certain things about myself, and life in general I suppose, that I have always taken for granted. Looking a little deeper into these things has led me to an interesting place and left me with a few questions that I have no idea how to answer.

No, I have not forgotten my blog, but yes, I have been feeling uninspired. So If one wants to write but is uninspired, when at the same time you need to practice writing to get better but should not write when uninspired…? ugh. Conundrum #1.

These pieces of advise are worded incorrectly. What we really need to practice is how to inspire yourself to do things that take inspiration. Simply being inspired and taking advantage of it is not difficult, and would also be a miracle. ‘Eureka’ moments are few and far between, I think for most of us. What we really need to practice is how to be imaginative and productive when inspiration is scarce.

Now we have that line of thought tweaked, we need to make it a habit. We are habit-forming creatures, of course. If we practice something enough it becomes a habit and can really learn to enjoy anything (within reason). Practicing how to inspire yourself even when things seem bleak is just as difficult or easy as teaching yourself to like black coffee. If you already drink your coffee black, congratulations you are a self-inspired go getter and can feel free to navigate to the next article. Just kidding.

The fear of falling out of step with habits that took so long to build is a constant for me. It is particularly present with my workout habits. I am recovering from yet another back injury and for a couple of weeks was hardly able to get in and out of my car, let alone follow any fitness pursuit. The fear that I was losing motivation to workout and that habit I had built was eminent, even though it was loss of disk connection in my lower back and not motivation causing my lapse. But here I am recovering and re-introducing habits, it isn’t so bad.

Conundrum #2. I really don’t know what kind of person I am anymore. Adulting is complicated because the luxury of mandated activities from which you to build an identity around are gone. Some of us have jobs based on these childhood activities and therefore perhaps the confusion of societal placement is postponed for several years. Others, like myself, have decided to carry over nothing whatsoever that happened during those years of school and activities.

So I don’t know who I am or what kind of person I am from an outside perspective, but I know what kind of person I want to be. Affectionate, funny, friendly, kind, charismatic. These are goals. I know what I need to work on, consistency, being friendly, being ambitious. So here is my second Conundrum; if I want to be a certain way and am determined to become so, am I not being true to myself? OR perhaps because I myself chose these particular characteristics to practice and embody I am being even more true to myself because I personally, me, myself, selected the characteristics I feel are most important?

I have decided that the latter is true because I can decide whatever I want (without being delusional). Achieving the goal of becoming the best version of myself to myself is just like everything else, practice and form a habit.

I have felt a void lately, I struggle to meet people, I fear the friends I have don’t enjoy spending time with me, I feel like I don’t have anything in common with anyone. I have decided that this disconnect is a product of my not embracing myself. Of course I am not going to find commonalities with strangers if I don’t know who I am first! That would be like trying to find a matching sock without knowing what the first sock looked like! and that’s an awesome metaphor.

 

Let’s leave it there for today. and here I was complaining about a lack of eureka moments; I think I just created one 🙂

 

❤ Cammy

 

What kind of instructor do I want to be?

Good morning!

It is currently five degrees here in beautiful New England, with a high of nine and a wind chill of -25. But the sun is shining so I’ll just be sitting here staring at the albeit cold and distant rays pretending it’s not happening and ignoring the two foot snow drifts blanketing the world.

Fortunately I am finding myself chipper considering the negative sign in front of the temperature today.

I am also struggling to motivate myself further down the road to achieve my goal of being a fully certified Pilates instructor. I could just be over thinking the process and what it really means to be an effective instructor, and probably am.

I have experienced a lot of different teaching styles and I have determined exactly what I like and don’t like for myself when taking a Pilates mat/ barre/ reformer class.

  1. The class should flow; The movements should lead smoothly from each position to the next.
  2. Talking without movement should be limited.
  3. In a large class, specific attention to individual students is unrealistic and frankly annoying for everyone else.
  4. I would like to be continuously moving and hopefully burning and sweating by the end of the class.
  5. I also want form corrections/muscle activation cues.

Ok that sounds like a long list, but I really believe all of these things are so crucial to a good class. There is nothing worse for me than paying $30 for a Pilates class only to stand there listening to my instructor talk for the first 10 minutes, demonstrate multiple exercises, and walk around assisting every student, leaving only 10 minutes of actual work. The reverse of this is a class where the instructor has virtually no connection with the students and guides through movements so quickly you find yourself craning your neck around frequently to make sure you are performing each exercise correctly. Ugh!

So how does one combine all of these aspects to ensure than everyone is working hard, performing exercises correctly, cueing appropriate muscle groups, and assisting those who just are really failing. Well, one way of course is to label classes appropriately. For example; Pilates Mat II Deliberate Flow meaning you are moving, have a previous understanding of Pilates, and are prepared to keep up! Pilates Mat I Understanding Movement Principles, now I know that I will be spending a few minutes going over each position listening to and understanding how the body is working. Many studios do this, many do not. I personally would like to know what I am getting in to. However it really does come down to the instructor.

Labels are really only a suggestion because in the end it is your instructors decision what kind of workout you are getting. From an instructors perspective there are so many aspects that need to be considered in addition to the desires of the students! Size of class, fitness level of students, the temperature of the studio the time ofdayhaveIhadlunchwhatdayoftheweekisithowmanyclasseshaveitaughwhyamiherethispersonneedshelpthatpersonisannoyedwearenotmovingmore…sigh.

 

I have a lot to think about, but I think I have given myself a good basis…

 

What kind of instructor do you like? Talking? Moving? Do you like when the instructor does the workout with you?

 

❤ Cammy

 

 

 

Self-Control, Discipline, and Gavin

Happy Holidays Bloggers!

A few days after the Grande Finale of the biggest build up of the year, I’m not sad and I’m not feeling depressed. It was a lovely holiday, it truly was. The anticipation lasted over a month and as usual I was over the holiday prior to its arrival. So all the lights are coming down, the Santa’s are being boxed away and the ornaments carefully wrapped. I’m not a post-holiday Scrooge, honestly. I’m just anxious that if I don’t just start doing it (the un-decorating), it won’t happen and the lights will stay up until next year.

 

I also got a new puppy. 

 

What.

 

His name is Gavin, and he is perfect. I’m completely in love.

 

Anyways, the holidays are always a really good time to slack off, eat a lot of rich foods, drink wine every day, skip the gym, etc. That’s the general theme, right? How horrible does that sound (perhaps excluding the wine)? I cannot think of anything that would make me feel worse.

What is comes down to; The unfortunate obsession with food combined a constant struggle to be slim. So we do all of this indulging and sitting on the couch, just so we have something to fix in the new year, which we again ruin at the end of the following year just in time to do it all again. It’s like a lifestyle binge. Phew, I’m totally ranting.

I guess my point is, I get where it comes from. I too abstain from certain indulgences and am semi-meticulous about my fitness. I make my bed every morning and I always wash the dishes and wipe down the kitchen counters before bed. I brush my teeth twice a day. I don’t party every weekend. These things are also known as Self-Control and Discipline. They aren’t necessarily ‘fun’ like sitting at a bar or eating a piece of cake, but they make me feel amazing before, during and after (so, maybe they are fun? I’m confused).

I have still not gotten to my point. Oh yeah. We work so hard to maintain certain degrees of discipline and self-control within our lives yet view them as terrible hardships, so we create excuses to ignore them. However, when they are ignored the feeling is far worse.

So eat your cake and drink your wine. But not the whole bottle or cake just because it’s the holidays and it’s ‘allowed.’ Because yeah, I totally think the holidays are an excuse for some level of indulgence. I just don’t think we should ignore the bigger picture and sacrifice things that actually make us feel good about ourselves.

Until next time

 

❤ Cammy

Excited for now, afraid for later.

Well hello there..

The obvious excuse for my prolonged absence from the blogging community (yet again) is the long migration of the fat man and his trusty group of bicornuate deer from the North Pole to our fire places. Also known as Christmas. I’m not a holiday nut, but things like our toilet have been decorated, so depending on your definition….anyways. This also happened;

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I’m hosting a small not-a-big-deal-to-anyone-but-me Christmas Eve gathering for the first time! Very exciting, and completely mentally consuming in the best possible way. So how have I been keeping my Pilates dream alive?

For some reason I associate fitness and productivity to the warm season. It is just so hard for me to get things done in the winter. Fortunately the excitement of the holidays ward off the imminent winter depression, but when they are over…oh boy. Nothing like feeling pressured to accomplish your new year resolution when the sun goes down at 4pm.

Unfortunately we cannot put our lives on hold until Spring arrives. We must find ways to get excited about our endeavors apart from, well for me I’m just happy that every day is a little closer to warmer weather. That doesn’t seem good enough. I’m not prepared for the months after Christmas. I’m scared.

This is not inspirational of me, I know, but I haven’t figured out how to get over the dark and lonely months post holiday, pre spring. I will let you know when I figure out how.

 

Until then,

christmas doggy

 

❤ Cammy

 

Feeling Desperate About Long Term Goals.

Good Morning Readers!

Just a few thoughts I’d like to offer on the topic of giving up, motivating yourself, and especially ignoring the sense of despair often associated with long-term goals. This last one resonates with me and I know it does for many out there.

I have written in the past about the importance of setting tiny goals for yourself. Setting smaller goals with success in the near future is the first step. Setting goals that are too large and take too long to accomplish are difficult in two ways.

  1. You forget about the goal, or get lazy about the path to accomplishing it. Discipline gone.
  2. You feel desperately desperate because the goal is so huge you feel as though you will never reach it, so what is the point in the first place? Motivation gone.

So how do we retain both our discipline and motivation for long term goals, and why am I even talking about this?

I feel a sense of looming despair when it comes to my student loans. It is such a high number and the interest payments alone are annoying. So I’m tempted month after month to do..what’s that thing that people do with their student loans? Oh yeah, not pay them. Discipline gone, motivation to may off my loans is gone, because I see no way that I’ll ever be able to pay them off like…ever.

Fitness. Diet. Weight loss. These are areas in which many come to road blocks. Areas in which people lose motivation, regain the motivation, then lose discipline and motivation. Why? Because changing your lifestyle is hard and losing a significant amount of weight or getting into better shape takes a long time! Goals that take a long time and a significant amount of discipline are so hard to adhere to.

However we still need to do these difficult things from time to time. How do we accomplish them when they are so far away and seem so impossible?

  1. Set a smaller goal for yourself that is attainable, and reward yourself for it. 

E.g. I pay off $5,000 on my student loans, I get to…(I guess an expensive gift for myself is a little counterproductive) but I do really want a new bag. Problems.

   2. Don’t think about the end goal, think about the process and find a way to enjoy it. 

E.g. In another life I have to lose 50 lbs. I find ways to workout that take me to places I love to go, e.g., a walk in a museum or the aquarium. Hell, maybe I walk around the mall for 5 hours. I do not spend time in front of the mirror and think in circles deeper into my psyche. I look forward to how I will look and feel in one month, not twelve.

I am no expert on accomplishing things that are really, really hard. Unless college counts.  The reason that all of this popped into my head is because my workouts have stalled somewhat during the past few weeks. Work and holidays and work and preparing for more holidays have caused fitness to take a back seat, a feeling I hate. The good news? I’m not despairing because this has happened before. I know it will only take me a few weeks to get back to where I was. I’m not thinking about the weeks of work ahead, I’m just focusing on each workout as they happen.

 

Do you feel desperate about long term goals?

 

❤ Cammy

Pilates, Yoga, Men. (Why men don’t flock to these forms of fitness practice)

Rise and shine Readers!

Before I begin, this are my opinions. I am not writing a research paper, and if I touch on topics that are too sensitive please feel free to navigate to the next post :). 

It seems to be generally accepted, at least to my understanding, that fitness styles such as yoga and Pilates are female dominated. Most classes are between 80-100% women, and more frequently the instructor is also a woman. But why? I have my suspicions, some of them might be wildly incorrect and some may be more on point. I just ask that you forgive my generalizations; I have no intention of writing a research paper. I just have two points I’d like to address.

  1. Pilates is just too graceful.

If you have ever caught someone, as I have, suggesting that Pilates is easy I hope you at least laughed internally, or like me, just completely in their face. When I think of weight lifting, I think of men struggling to heave heavy objects to their shoulders and back down to the floor all the while grunting furiously. Said man then lumbers off awkwardly with no intention of stretching out his tight muscles, to the next-heaviest set of weights and begins the activity all over again.

Now to my point..The surface burn that one gets from weight lifting is definitely easier to identify than the internal burn that one gets from practicing Pilates. Actually, it takes some practice to identify the burning of the inner core muscles because the sensation is so different from what we may be previously familiar with. Because of this difference, I have come to believe that many (ok, men) are disenchanted by the practice because they are convinced it doesn’t ‘work.’ Well, that’s cute.

There is an overwhelming slogan attached to Pilates that it creates “long, lean, dancer muscles.’ Because our society is hell-bent on men bulking up while women remain sleek, it is understandable that this slogan would appeal more to women. I’d like to have a lot more to say about this point, but I am a woman who practices pilates so I believe my retort to this would be easily discredited. I’ll just leave it there.

So far I have touched on cosmetic reasons, however I also believe that Pilates and Yoga appear too graceful for many men to commit to. The movements practiced in Yoga and Pilates are certainly more classically feminine, which might appear daunting to our unfortunately semi-homophobic male population.

2. Yoga and Pilates were started by women, so obviously they would have a predominately female following. Wait…that’s not true at all. 

Joseph Pilates started the Practice of Pilates to rehabilitate WWII Veterans who were injured in war. A man started this practice to help other men regain physical strength.

Again, minimal research conducted here, but to my understanding Yoga was first noted in a sacred text called the Rig Veda, written by the Vedic Priests in northern India about 5,000 years ago. These priests were drawn from the Brahmans, the highest caste in India. Modern Yoga, as of 1,700 years ago approximately, was developed by a fellow named Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras. He was thought to be an enlightened being.

To recap..What if Joseph Pilates and Putanjali came and Mansplained all of this to our male skeptics? hmm.

 

Ta ta for now!!

 

❤ Cammy

Mini Pilates Ball and the Fa-la-la-la Llama

Hello there, readers!

I am not terribly fond of the cold. In fact, I elaborated on it in both of these posts not too long ago. I’m actually a really bad New Englander; I don’t like skiing, sledding, and I prefer margaritas over hot chocolate. What I do love? Holidays. The decorations are going up.

So, while I relish the onset of merrymaking, gift-exchanging, hot toddy-sipping, cocoa- drinking, eggnog-having, Santa statue-obsessing, amazon-shopping, Martha-Stewart-blog-trolling, Pinterest-experimenting  *gasp*, I have also discovered a new way to torture myself. The Mini Pilates Ball. Guys, this ball makes everything about 8,000x more challenging. I casually brought this ball to a Barre/Pilates fusion class with my sister and used it doing chest lifts-not a particularly advanced exercise-but when I looked over she looked like she was about to cry.

mini yoga ball

Oh, look how innocently purple it is. Just sitting there, deflated, wondering what it did wrong. EVERYTHING, Ball, you have done everything wrong!!!

This thing really kicks any mat workout into the next gear. If you put the ball under any part of your body that is in a supporting position during an exercise it instantly changes everything.

These are a few ways I have found to use it:

  1. Squeeze between knees to engage inner thighs during supine work.
  2. Under tailbone during supine leg work.
  3. Under supporting side ribcage during side-lying leg work.
  4. Under upper back ribs during supine ab work.
  5. Under sternum for prone back/lower/upper body work.
  6. Again between knees for standing arm work.

I have also found it way more challenging the more deflated the ball is. So give it a try guys, and let me know how it goes 🙂

And now let’s return briefly to the North Pole and obsess for a moment over the Fa-la-la-la llama…

I will not be judged for getting excited over gift tags.

 

Tata

❤ Cammy

 

 

Making Vegetable Soup, the Shredded Chicken Edition

Hello there!

Something awesome happened yesterday, in the form of someone actually telling me that my brief disappearance from the blogging community was noticed, possibly even missed! Anonymous day-maker, you know who you are 🙂 Something so minuscule like a passing, “Hey, you didn’t post on your blog this week and I missed it,” had a profound impact and made me feel oh-so-special.

The reason for this absence that I just haven’t been feeling super great. For about three weeks now I have been feeling lethargic, achey, dehydrated, and generally run down. For the past few days I’ve become suspicious of the existence of a stomach bug.

So I decided to do something that I do sometimes….make soup. Vegetable soup. With shredded chicken! I’ve never made shredded chicken before, it turned out to be pretty straightforward. Boil, get fork, shred. 1, 2, 3.

 

Sometimes I use water with bullion cubes. The last time I made soup I used bone broth, which I was unfamiliar with at the time, and was enthralled with it’s many health benefits and high protein components. After tasting it I realized why. The amount of salt I added to counter the repugnant taste of the broth contradicted the detoxifying nature of the soup.

The broth. Plus the water I boiled the chicken in. I seasoned it with turmeric, oregano and thyme because they were the first spices I saw in the drawer.

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I started with parsnips, carrots (baby or otherwise), and onion. I gave the parsnips a 5-minute head start.

 

And then, as usual, I ran out of room.

 

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After letting this simmer for a few minutes, I threw in some zucchini and tomatoes, then began attempting to stuff as much of this field of kale as I could into the two pots.

 

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It was so much kale. And no, this post has nothing to do with Pilates.

And then boom! Chicken!

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Ta da.

 

 

❤ Cammy

 

Lavanda Michelle

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