Monthly Archives: October 2012

What does balance mean to me? Part 1


Balance has always been a big thing with me, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise. I guess I have to admit I am more than slightly OCD. When I was little, I would rearrange people’s couch pillows so there was the same number of pillows on each side. Teacups on shelves had to be evenly distributed. M&M’s were often dumped out on the table, sorted by color, and then eaten evenly by color. Playing with one friend who was a twin for a certain amount of time meant spending an equal amount of time with the other twin.
Looking back, I think I liked ballet an awful lot not just because I loved to dance, but because I had this need within me to always strive for perfection. An overwhelming desire for what was clean, neat, orderly, and, well, perfect. Of course I never WAS perfect. I had the wrong body for ballet, not enough turnout, short Achilles tendons, etc. That’s how ballet is though. Always striving for perfection, and never quite measuring up no matter what. Ballet dancers don’t get to be human. They have to defy things that humans take for granted such as food, gravity, body weight, etc. This suited me just fine, because even though I couldn’t be perfect, if I only just constantly devoted my life to striving for perfection, trying to always appear to be perfect and have it all together, nobody could say I didn’t try. Maybe eventually I would be perfect if I just kept going.

Some people blame their parents for this kind of pressure. But I put this pressure on myself. I was selfish in that I didn’t want to share my faults with others. I was independent. I didn’t need anyone else to tell me what to do. I was a good kid and got good grades not because I was pressured by anyone on the outside, I was pressured by my own need to be perfect. To never slip up. To always appear to have it all together. Ballet was just another way to demonstrate the pressure I could put on myself and still appear to be as perfect as possible.
You should have seen me try to do math as a kid and in high school. Many tears were shed because I couldn’t just pick it up, understand it, and do it. Math showed my weakness and my vulnerability. I needed help to understand it. I hated that. I wanted it to be like English where I could just automatically understand it and do it and be awesome at it. Looking back, I remember various points in the history of math classes where I would panic when I realized I couldn’t understand something, cry over it, gain sympathy for my tears, and then work with someone on the problem. I felt such a sense of accomplishment when math problems and formulas finally clicked. But also in looking back, I see that my greatest rewards and feelings of self worth came from acknowledging it when I needed help, showed that I was vulnerable, and worked with someone on the problem instead of trying to figure it out for myself.

Being homeschooled has many advantages, but one of the drawbacks is that while there are certainly other homeschool kids and activities to keep you involved with a group, the day to day grindstone of getting through textbooks and learning new subjects ultimately fosters a sense of independence. Independence and individual responsibility are very good things to have, and can be extremely advantageous. But the downside is that it makes it harder to ask for help when you need it, because there is nobody else asking for help around you. The absence of peer pressure in other words, made me pressure myself. I felt like I was missing out on something, and I was. I was missing out on being human and making mistakes.

Making a mistake was a tragedy in the world of me. Being measured and found lacking was a bigger fear for me than spiders and snakes. I had an incredible fear of skin problems, because they showed the imperfections I felt on the inside as plain as day on the outside. The very thought of getting chicken pox made me shiver. Poison oak leaves would send me into fits of tears. The fear of acne had me trying every new mask and potion I could get my hands on. If I could perfect my skin, nobody would be able to see my vulnerability. Appearing perfect was of utmost importance. I only shared with friends enough to make them think I was a perfect friend. (Whatever that means). If I had an issue or a fear or a worry, I only shared it if I felt like my friends shared that worry with me. I would only let myself be as vulnerable as they were. I couldn’t give away too much for fear of being judged.

Balancing on point shoes, balancing my math problems, balancing friends, and balancing my skin all had one thing in common…I was trying to show everyone how good I was at balancing things on my own, without anyone’s help. I didn’t need anyone to catch me, because I was never going to fall. And if I did fall, nobody was going to see me do it.

Stay tuned for part 2…



My Top 10 Ways To Overcome Cardio Boredom

Hello handful (or less) of people who actually read my blog! Round 3 of the lovely Miss Tina Reale’s Best Body Bootcamp is upon us, and along with her beautifully composed strength training sessions comes the 2-3 days a week of cardio interval blasts. (Yayyyyy!) C’mon. Be excited. No? Less than enthused? Why??? Wait, I think I know…

While cardio is certainly beneficial and necessary, it can get boring at times. The reason cardio can get boring is because of repetition. Logging miles on the pavement, treadmill, bike, or elliptical can get tiresome…when our brains become disengaged, we become disenchanted quickly. What we need is a way to keep our brains engaged and keep our bodies challenged throughout the cardio routine. Sooooo…Below are my favorite ways to keep myself motivated and challenged when doing cardio!

Case up a new class

What better way to sizzle away a few calories and keep boredom at bay than to try out a new class? Whether its dance, spin, or kickboxing, you are sure to engage your brain as well as your muscles when you take a class. The group atmosphere combined with new music, challenges, and an instructor to lead the way, lends to an engaged brain and an improved cardio experience. Don’t worry about whether or not people are watching you, or whether or not you will know the moves. Everyone has to start somewhere. Talk to the instructor after class about anything you weren’t sure about, and improve your skills! Worst case scenario you’ll be able to say you challenged yourself with something new, and what can be bad about that?

Make it a new machine

Do you always head for the elliptical or treadmill? Do you always set it for the same workout setting and time? Don’t lie. You know you do. No wonder you’re bored. Try out a machine you don’t normally use, such as the Stairmaster or rowing machine. Set your sights on different intervals of intensity and rest than you normally would to quick start your muscles and your mind. You will be at least slightly less bored, I promise.

Rev up a new route or routine

Like trying a new machine, this isn’t rocket science, but if you are strapping on your sneakers or cycling shoes for the same route every time, it can get monotonous. Try mapping out a new route to give yourself some new scenery, hills, and challenges. Try breaking up a run or walk with some intervals of plyometric moves or Tabatas. In fact, take a pause and a sip of coffee. Now caffeine-jump over to Lindsay’s Tuesday Trainer for some plyo and Tabata ideas!

Spark up new songs to your ipod/phone

One of the reasons I enjoy going to new classes, trolling Youtube and PerezHilton, and quizzing friends and bloggers about their favorite songs is because I get inspired working out to new music. I have been known to play the same new song on repeat for an entire workout. (Don’t judge, we all have our own path). But playing new music and mixing up your workout songs is a great way to jazz up (Pun intended. Wait. No it wasn’t, jazz isn’t necessarily the best music to work out to) your cardio routine. Just try to refrain from singing along loudly. You might get socked by the die-hard on the next treadmill over.

Add an audio book

Yeah. The commercials piss me off too. But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! While I wouldn’t recommend something distracting (and terribly written) like Fifty Shades of Grey, you may want to zone out to Game of Thrones, or whatever self-help-fad-diet-Oprah’s-book-club-book-of-the-moment is begging you to be read. Think about it. You whine just as much about how you have no time to sit down and read as you whine about not having time to work out. Go ahead. Kill both birdies with the same stone. You will be able to check two items off your to-do list, and keep you mind busy while your body sweats it out.

Find a friend

Hello again, Captain Obvious. I know this ship has sailed across the colorful pages of every health magazine printed in the free world over the last few decades, but do you ever actually take this sage advice to heart? Grab a friend. Have girl talk. Catch up on life. Grab some froyo afterwards. It will give you the satisfaction of spending time with friends, and keep your brain busy with gossip while you churn out the miles.

Jump and juggle machines

Don’t give your restless mind enough time to process boredom. Try jumping back and forth to different machines at the gym! My favorite combo right now is the 20-20-20: Twenty minutes each on the elliptical, Stairmaster, and rowing. Not only will you work different muscle groups, you will be able to satisfy your brain’s need for change. It’s very gratifying to be able to cross off so many machines in one session. Plus, nobody at the gym will be able to say you were Bogarting a machine, now will they?

Mini-challenge mayhem

This is your opportunity to be creative. And there isn’t an ounce of sewing, painting, or papier mache involved! During your cardio, play little games with yourself. Try making it to the next stoplight as fast as you can before you rest. Try speed intervals on the elliptical every time a Taylor Swift song comes on (you know you have lots, don’t kid yourself). Try adding 30 seconds of plyo moves every time you come to an intersection. Intensify your speed during song choruses, and rest during verses. Do 10 burpees every time a new chapter on your audio book starts. Assign plyo or tabata moves to card decks (I totally stole this from Janetha at Meals and Moves, but I can’t find the link on her blog!) But basically, you assign 1 move to each of the 4 suites of cards. The number of reps correspond to the number on the card (J, Q, K are 10 reps). Then you shuffle the deck, and do the plyo move and reps that correspond to the card you draw. Whatever the case, you’ll lay boredom to rest in the shallow grave in which you also buried your fear of processed sugars.

Split it up

Who said you have to do all your cardio in one sitting? Take a 20 minute walk on your lunch break, then log another 30 minutes after quittin’ time. Do a quick sweat session on the spin bike before class, and then jog to work in the afternoon. Fitting cardio in in small blocks is not only great for busy people, it’s great for bored people. Trust.

Reward yourself

This economy is killing me. and my wardrobe. And my expensive appetite. So what do I do? I use my waning bank account balance as motivation for cardio workouts! For every cardio workout I complete, I put a dollar in a jar towards a new pair of gym shoes or article of clothing. Once I have enough, I get to buy it, sans guilt (and maybe even a smaller size!!)


Look, the bottom line is this: Keep your mind engaged. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Be creative with your workouts! Your body and your mind will thank you.