My favorite things about Fall

I love Fall.

Do you call it Fall or Autumn? I never say Autumn but I like how it’s spelled. Either way, it’s one of my most favorite times of year.

The only bad thing about Fall is that it means Winter is just a little bit closer. But, except for the snow/ice hazards and the extremely bitter cold days, I have learned to appreciate that season more as well. But let’s not jump the gun. I’m here to talk about Fall because it’s what’s almost here!

I started this post about a month ago when we had a break in our seriously hot weather. But then it got hot again and didn’t feel like the right time to be talking about Fall just yet. Even though it was 94 yesterday, it seems that the cooler weather is just about here to stay and it is almost October so I did not want to delay any further!

I’ve also been thinking about Fall a lot because I work on a college campus and once the semester finally started, the students came rolling in and the restaurants and coffee shops went back to their normal hours (read: later than 2 p.m. and places that have been closed all Summer are finally open!) and there will be other exciting events going on here between now and the Christmas break.

Most days, the mornings have been on the cool side, cool enough as my friend Carrie said “to have a cup of hot tea in the mornings again!” She’s right about that. It’s also been darker in the mornings when I go out to walk Suzie and it’s been getting darker earlier at night. As much as I do love my daylight, it’s sort of cozy when it gets dark early and that makes me want to go to bed earlier, which is a good thing for me.

I have been feeling inspired :) Change is good.

Fall means a lot of things to each one of us. But I think we can all agree that it’s generally a fun time of year. Now I just thought I would share a few of my favorite things about Fall with you :)

1. P-U-M-P-K-I-N!

Seriously, as soon as I see this stuff, I’m stocking up again! It’s been too long!

My pantry last Fall

I like to bake with it, put it in my oatmeal, make soup with it, pumpkin dip with ginger snaps, you name it. I’m also excited about pumpkin spice tea and pumpkin flavored coffee (not the syrup but the actual coffee flavor) and anything else coffee shops, cafes  or companies come up with to entice me into trying something. If it says pumpkin on it, I will probably at least give it a second look.

2. Art fairs, charity walks, outdoor events, etc.

Such as the St. James Court Art Show!

St. James is the event that really kicks off the Fall for me and it’s just a little over 2 weeks away. It also has the most unpredictable weather! I believe this picture is from two years ago, while last year we were in shorts! You just never know ;-) But I’m kind of hoping for a chilly morning this year, just not too cold!

The Louisville Walk for Farm Animals

I am one of the co-coordinators of this year’s Walk for Farm Animals (Farm Sanctuary)  on October 22nd and I am really excited about all that we have planned! Last year, we had a decent turnout and raised a good amount of money through our walk and a bake sale that we had beforehand. I’m looking forward to topping all of that this year! If you would like to sign up to walk or donate to my walk page, click here (thanks!)

Mighty Kindness Harvest Hootenanny

The Hootenannies take place in the Fall and in the Spring (on Earth Day) and it’s another time of rather unpredictable weather. Last year’s Fall Hoot was absolutely freezing and then the Earth Day hoot this year kept a lot of people at home because of rain/storms. Hopefully this time we will have a better day. I will be working at the Louisville Vegetarian Club booth this year and I hope my friend Kristin (pictured above in the hat and sunglasses) is there selling her goods again too :)

Fall Road Races!

While I haven’t decided to run any races this Fall (yet), I am going to be supporting my friends Farrah (pictured above on right) and Chloe in the Louisville Marathon on October 16th! I know it sounds corny but it’s long been a dream of mine to be on the sidelines cheering for someone else :) This will be the first marathon for both of them and I can’t wait to see them cross that finish line!

3. Haunted Houses and horrors!

Courtesy of Nightmare Forest Louisville

I don’t scare easily but I do tend to jump at loud noises! My husband and I love the Halloween season. Soon we’ll be busting out our collection of horror movies and lining up on a Friday night to go through some scary forest, hotel or whatever attraction we choose to visit this year. We are also big fans of the Danger Run, even though we usually end up arguing and get lost at some point. All in good fun!

4. Football (sigh…)

I'm bummed he's not playing :(

Never in my life did I think I would include this on a list of my favorite things about Fall. But the truth is, I do enjoy watching some football. It gets overwhelming when there are several games on in a week or when my husband is in the basement yelling at a particular team and I can hear him two floors up.

He’s not the only one who does this, but I just don’t like it when people get so mad about a game that they say terrible things to a team they claim to be a fan of and they just plain ruin my good time! But most of the time, it’s enjoyable to root for your favorite teams while spending time with family and friends over some chips and salsa.

We used to host Monday Night Football at our house every year but since we just moved and aren’t quite unpacked and my husband’s work schedule is a bit unforgiving (he wakes up at 4 a.m.!) we have decided not to do it this year. I kind of miss it already but hopefully we can get some people together for a game sometime this season!

I’m sure there will be some other adventures that I’m not even aware of yet but I will leave it at that for now. We are still settling into our new house and hopefully someday I will finally sit down and do a before and after post on some of the rooms we have redone and how the place looks now that we actually live here :)

What are you looking forward to this Fall? Anything not on this list that I should check out?

Starting over with running

It’s hard for me to believe that there would ever come a point in time that I would not only be a runner, but be a runner so much that I actually got tired of it. Wow! It’s amazing how much your life can change when you change your priorities.

But that time has come for me again. I say again because this isn’t the first time I took a break from running. In 2009, I actually walked the Kentucky Derby Festival mini-Marathon and you know what? That’s hard too! It was an entirely different experience and I’m so glad I did it.

This time, it was more or less, I just haven’t felt like running lately. Back in June, we hit the 90 degree mark and have had too many super hot and humid days to even think about running outside (for me). The treadmill was not calling my name either. So I decided, so what? I will take a break. Do some other workouts I enjoy, no big deal.

I noticed that I didn’t really miss running. I also didn’t miss the major appetite it gave me that sometimes caused me to eat too much. I didn’t miss the achy hips or tiredness I sometimes get.  I especially did not miss getting up early on Saturday mornings for races (hehe).

In July, we closed on our new home and started going through the seemingly never-ending process of packing, painting, moving, unpacking and so on. No time for running really and it was still too hot!

I really gave myself over to walking, yoga and some weight training. I even signed up for MyFitnessPal to make sure I’m still getting essential nutrients and to support some friends. And I have been feeling great! I don’t use a scale anymore but judging by my clothes, I’m a bit lighter. My moods are better and I have more energy to do things around the house and keep up with other responsibilities without being exhausted in the process.

Now, maybe running is not entirely to blame for this. I think I just needed a rest. Needed to slow things down a bit and get some perspective.

It’s been a couple of months now, the weather is cooling off and things are getting settled in my life again. I have decided I am ready to ease back into running. But nothing too crazy. I haven’t signed up for any races and while I do have hopes of someday  running a marathon (such as my dream of doing the 2012 NYC Marathon with my good friend Mari), I’m not in a big hurry.

I actually have dreams of standing on the side lines for someone else soon! Anybody need a cheerleader? Or maybe I will volunteer to work at a race.

For now, I have decided to start from scratch, the way I originally “taught” myself how to run. With intervals!

Twice this week, and hopefully one more time before it’s over, I have “walk-jogged” 2.35 miles. I decided to start with running 1 minute for every 4 that I walk. I have really enjoyed it and it has been great to “feel out” running again. Next week, I will move up to 3 walking, 2 jogging and so on but again, I’m in no hurry to do too much. I just want to enjoy this :)

MyFitnessPal rocks

About a week ago, I suggested to a friend of mine the idea of finding online accountability for healthy eating and exercise because I knew there were a ton of free resources out there and her current in-person accountability might be in jeopardy. Before I knew it she had sent me a link to join her over at MyFitnessPal and I have been obsessed ever since. Well, not really, but you know what I mean ;-)

The site allows you to track your calorie intake and exercise expenditures based on your current weight and your goal (lose, maintain or gain) and interact with other people that you become “friends” with on the site. It’s like Facebook meets Weight Watchers! You even have a news feed :)

Since I am happy where I am and no longer own a scale, I chose maintenance and my calorie goal actually made sense (usually the ones these sites give me is too high, in my opinion).  I haven’t actually been tracking calories for a long time so that wasn’t a priority for me but this site measures so more than that.

Much like the old MyPyramid (now MyPlate), it gives you a nutrient breakdown for the day and shows you where you may be lacking in some areas. Because I am vegan, I keep an eye on vitamin D and calcium since I don’t get those from eating dairy products like many people do. Also, I like to stay low on sugar because my body operates better that way.

I haven’t made any changes to my diet, but the program is definitely motivating me not to go back for a second snack at night and in the 5 days I have been tracking, I have drank more water than I have in a long time! Something about being able to “click” off another glass is fun to me and having that visual reminder is very helpful.

I am also really thankful for this site because it allows me to be part of the process that my friends are going through on their own weight loss journeys. I am glad that I can provide them with accountability and encouragement, plus they probably don’t know this, but being able to see how they are doing is very motivating to me as well. It reminds me of what I went through, how far I have come and how I never want to go back to being who I was before I made myself get healthy.

Just wanted to share this with you all. It’s a great site and I know there are many others out there like it, but this one stands out to me.

There is also an app for most smart phones. The one for Blackberry is decent, I can enter food, water and exercise on there but can’t see what my friends are doing or any of the message boards. However, the iPhone app seems wonderful for all of you who have one (I’m only a tiny bit jealous).

The house that almost wasn’t, part 2

So last time, I left off with the acceptance that this house just wasn’t meant to be. I grieved a little bit but was able to pull myself together and move on. I also felt bad for being selfish, when here this family trying to sell the condo must have been just as crushed as we were, especially since they put a lot of time and money into making the necessary repairs for us. Our mindset became that something better just had to be out there for us and now just wasn’t the time for this to work out.

But then, Josh got a phone call.

Apparently, our real estate agent was just beside herself with what had happened. And of course, the deal fell through for her too and that’s her livelihood. So she spent days on the phone, online, talking to people in her office, just doing anything to find a solution to this problem. It turned out, one of her co-workers knew another mortgage broker at a different bank who was promoting a new type of loan that isn’t really well known by agents yet.

Basically, it’s the same as an FHA loan, only it’s conventional, not federal. We would still have to put 3.5% down but it would be accepted by this condo association and the perks were we would not have to pay PMI (mortgage insurance) so our payments would be lower too. I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe everything that happened after this was the plan for us all along.

Josh and I talked it over and I have to admit, part of me just wanted to say no. After the ordeal we had been through up until this point, I wasn’t sure I was ready to even attempt this whole process again. But we decided to try, on the condition that neither of us got excited about anything until we had the keys in our hands.

It was brutal.

We had to start all over again. We filed a contract extension with the sellers which was easy because they wanted this to work out as much as we did. Then we had to apply for a new loan, re-send all of our info that we had sent to the other bank, take online tests, print out certificates, get our tax information, bank statements and everything together. We signed, faxed, scanned and emailed so much that I was ready to just give them a blood sample and be done with it.

Also, the broker was a little wishy-washy with us, which did not inspire much confidence from me. They took forever to tell us whether or not we’d been accepted into the loan program (you can’t make more than a certain amount of money). Then we waited…waited…waited, faxed some more paperwork and then waited some more. Just when we thought they were calling to give us good news, it turns out they needed more things signed.

But finally, everything went through and we ordered another appraisal even though we had just done one a few weeks prior (and did not get refunded for it). Oh well, if it worked out it was worth it, right? We both had a good laugh over the fact that the two appraisers came up with different amounts, a difference of $7,000 I think! How does that happen?

We still didn’t get too excited until after the underwriter’s report came back — that is where we got caught up the last time.

Then we waited almost two more weeks to find out if we were even going to make it to closing. Just to give you a timeline, we first put an offer on this house in late April. We found out we “lost” it May 17th, we started the process again about a week later and then found out we were “probably” going to close in late June/early July. Really, a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things but to us it felt like an eternity, especially because we had to go through the process twice. But I have heard of people getting hung up much longer, even a year! So I am glad that didn’t happen to us.

Anyway, as soon as we found out everything was in order, we breathed a sigh of relief. Closing was FINALLY scheduled for July 1st and we had a final walk-through the night before. Everything looked great, all the repairs had been made so just one more sleep and it would be ours. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night.

We showed up to closing at 10 a.m. that Friday and it was so surreal. I was so anxious that I didn’t even eat breakfast, which is the opposite of how I usually am (I’m normally an emotional eater). Everyone who has ever bought a home that we know had warned us how grueling closing was, how much you’d have to sign (“Don’t use your right hand the day before,” Josh warned) and how everything you had to do up until that point was nothing in comparison.

Well, our experience was totally different. I only remember signing a few things and we were there less than an hour. Perhaps it’s because we had to go through the buying process twice or because we were just so happy to finally be getting this place that it didn’t seem that bad. And for all the wishy-washiness leading up to closing, the lawyer handling the deal had everything ready to go and sped right through it. Closing was definitely the easiest part of this ordeal.

We ended up not having to put as much money down as we originally thought and our mortgage payments ended up being less than we are paying for rent right now! Throw the condo maintenance fee on top of that and we only went up $30 a month total. If it hadn’t been for the original deal falling through, we could have been paying a lot more than that. It was hard to grasp at first, but it all ended up being worth it.

We walked out of there, got in the car and immediately updated our Facebook statuses to tell the world that we were officially homeowners!

For the past few weeks we have been gradually bringing stuff in, we’ve cleaned, painted, replaced a bunch of stuff. And you know what? That first condo we looked at (across the street from us now) is still for sale and we’ve heard the house flipper guy is mad and had to lower the price. Hmm…

We truly believe that we were meant to get this second condo and this second loan. Even though parts of the experience were very hurtful and frustrating, we made it through much better off. We both believe that God is in control of everything and was looking out for us the whole time. We had just recently starting giving to the capital campaign at our church even though we had very little wiggle room in our budget.

But finances are the one area of our lives where God says to test Him (Malachi 3:10). We have in the past and we did again. God has blessed us, not just through us finally getting the house or getting a lower mortgage payment but also blessings that have come from family and friends. I believe this came about because we stepped out in faith with our giving and because we (eventually) graciously accepted that the original deal was not going to work out and found contentment again. That should never be a motive in what we do, but I do believe it to be true.

I am just feeling so incredibly thankful and overwhelmed right now. As we move into our new home this weekend, I am confident we can look back on this whole experience and see that it has been an amazing ride. And this was just the beginning.

The house that almost wasn’t

Hi friends! Sorry I have been away from the blog for a while, it’s been crazy on my end. We are moving into our new place this Saturday and it’s all so overwhelming. But we’ve had some amazing help from family and friends and I pretty much just apologize to my husband at the end of every day because I know I must be driving him crazy.

Anyway, we are very happy now with our new home and how it is coming along now, but it was a long, not so pleasant road to get here.

Just a few months ago, we weren’t even looking for a house. We thought we would stay in our apartment for a couple more years, save up some more money and then start looking. But one fateful night, my husband was checking a realty company website and a condo in my parents’ neighborhood popped up. It was exactly what we wanted: a 2 bedroom townhouse with a basement and in the same neighborhood as my parents? Yes, please! The price was also good so we immediately scheduled an appointment to see the place. We also looked at another place in the same neighborhood but it was smaller, more expensive and had no basement (my husband wants his “man cave” and we would like to have one since we have tornadoes here sometimes).

We went to see the place and it had a couple of small water leaks but other than that the place was in great shape and the owner had done a lot to fix it up and make it look really nice. From the surface, I fell in love with the place. It was cute, had great space and in a perfect location. This was our first time in the whole home buying process so we didn’t know what we were getting into. We made a low ball offer to the seller to get things started and he was so irate with us that he countered above his original asking price and had some words for us with his agent who passed along the message. I was pretty hurt (I’m too sensitive) and got mad at Josh because this wasn’t even on my radar before. And now I was crushed.

But after some tears and deep breathing, we did some more calculating and decided to go back and check the place out again just to see if we really wanted to walk away or try to work with the seller. Turns out he was a house flipper trying to make a big profit. When we got there, the 2 small leaks had become huge and we noticed a lot of other things that looked good on the surface but as my dad said: “He sure did shine this place up really nice.” We had removed our beer goggles so to speak. This place would be problematic for us, the romance was gone.

In a bizarre twist of fate, another condo on the same street was about to go up for sale but hadn’t yet been listed. Our agent asked us if we wanted to take a look at it and I reluctantly agreed. At that point, I felt defeated and just wanted to go back to reality in our apartment and revisit this discussion at a later date. It was almost the same condo, only much more lived in. It belonged to an older lady who had lived there for almost 25 years before moving to a home. It needed a lot of updates and work. At first, that felt like a major drawback but then I realized it was our opportunity to make it our own. So we went for it.

Working with this seller was so much more pleasant. Instead of a house flipper, this person was trying to help relieve a family member’s financial burden and so he was very motivated to make a deal. After some bargaining, we agreed on a great deal we were all happy with and we were one step closer to owning our first home. Our loan was approved, inspection appointments were made and everything was falling into place. I finally quit worrying and starting embracing that this was going to happen this time.

The home needed some repairs per the inspector but everything else passed and then the appraisal was completed. Have I told you how much paperwork we had to sign in all of this? Sheesh! We were scheduled to close the week before Memorial Day!

Then came yet another fateful day, Tuesday, May 17th, a week before we were supposed to be closing. Josh was off that day so I decided to take a day of vacation so we could spend some time together. It was a fun day! We decided to go to Home Depot and price some things for the house and get some ideas of things we wanted to replace and look at paint colors. After this, we went to the movie theater to see Thor. As we were waiting outside the theater for them to clean, Josh’s phone rang. It was our mortgage broker. It was bad news.

I still don’t know what went wrong and for a long time I wanted to blame someone, but somehow EVERYBODY missed the fact that this particular “phase” of this condo association does not accept FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans. So basically, we never should have gotten as far as we had. Our stuff made it all the way to the underwriter before this little oversight was caught. What choices did we have now? None, unless we could suddenly come up with 20% to put down for a conventional loan without any of it being gifted to us.

Being on the other side of that phone conversation was awful. Watching Josh’s facial expressions alone made me realize what was happening. He didn’t even have to tell me. We left the theater, got a refund for our tickets and made the long drive back home (10 minutes felt like an hour). It was over, again. The first place didn’t work out and then we found something else and now it was pulled from beneath us too. I never really got mad or felt like God or the universe was against me, I just felt so severely disappointed and frustrated, especially with people. This never should have happened. And again, this wasn’t on my radar a month prior, why were we doing this to ourselves again?

A few days went by and I was pretty depressed. I really wanted this place and there was literally nothing we could do. We looked at a few other houses online but nothing we felt good about and so we decided to just keep looking but go ahead and have our landlady write up a new lease for our apartment. I prayed a lot, did a lot of yoga and had some amazing friends lifting me up and things got better. I was ready to move on and put this behind me.

…To be continued…

Lemongrass Cafe

Happy belated 4th of July everyone! Hope you enjoyed yourselves :)

Suzie wants one of these

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My day was spent with my mom shopping around for things to put in our new home while my husband was out with my dad and uncles shopping for all the manly stuff. It was so amazing to FINALLY close on Friday after the ordeal we went through to get this place. But now that it is ours, it all seems worth it :) Honestly, everyone warned us it would be brutal, but closing was the easiest thing we had to do!

Anyway, yesterday my mom and I were out and about all morning and finally decided to break for some sustenance before our last stop at the Peddler’s Mall. We decided to stop in at Lemongrass Cafe on Shelbyville Road in Middletown. So many places were closed yesterday that we were kind of relieved not to have to come up with a back up plan for lunch once we saw the open sign :)

Since it was a holiday, the place was not crowded at all and we got seated immediately. They also brought us some water, which was nice since it was pretty hot here yesterday. After looking over the menu for a few moments (they have a great vegetarian section and tofu or mock chicken can be substituted in almost any dish) I finally decided on the Spicy eggplant and Tofu, which looked so gorgeous when it came out, I had to take a picture!

The tofu was the perfect texture and the eggplant too! It wasn’t very spicy (unlike the spicy stir fried eggplant from PF Chang’s, which I love) but it was still very tasty. My dish came with white rice which I ate too but on my way out, I noticed a sign that said “we have brown rice now” so I will have to remember that for next time.

My mom isn’t a big fan of spicy foods so I recommended she order a pad thai dish, which she really enjoyed. Her only complaint was that the portion was huge!

Overall, I was pretty pleased with this place and I would definitely go back. Maybe I will try something new next time but I would be okay having the same thing again.

Lemongrass Cafe on Urbanspoon

It’s getting real

Since the end of April, Josh and I have been in a long, drawn out, emotionally frustrating process of buying our first home, a condo that we fell in love with near my parents. I will be writing more about all of that at a later date, because believe me I have a lot to say!

But for now, I just want to say that it is finally getting real. We are doing our final walk-through tomorrow afternoon and then we are closing on Friday! I can’t believe it is finally happening :)

Oh yeah, now we get to pack, eek!

Thanks to my aunt Leslie for donating all the boxes and my mom for transporting them over. We are so blessed with awesome family & friends! I have a feeling they are all going to come in handy over the next month, we are so very lucky to not be doing any of this alone :)

Adobo Mexican Restaurant

On Monday night, a few girlfriends and I met up at the new Adobo Mexican Restaurant which has now taken the place of the old Our Best on Bardstown Road in Fern Creek. It looks exactly the same, just with a new paint job and different decor on the inside. I’m glad we chose it as Mexican restaurants are usually a safe bet for me as a vegetarian and the location was good for all of us to meet up in the middle.

The restaurant wasn’t too busy when we walked in and were seated right away. As we walked back to our table, we spotted the “Guacamole Bar” which I wish I had gotten a photo of. Basically, they make their guacamole fresh right when you order it. We couldn’t resist!

This appetizer was $8 but I swear, it was enough for the four of us and then some! Totally worth it too, I’m not kidding when I say this is the BEST guacamole I have ever had. It was fresh, creamy and even a bit spicy. Sorry, Qdoba, you have been replaced!

Like many Mexican restaurants do, they offered 99 cent margaritas on Mondays, so I decided to try one, you know, to review for the blog ;-)


It was really tasty. I usually don’t do “on the rocks” but I tried it because the frozen version was $1.99, which isn’t bad either but I thought I’d pick the cheap one this time ;-) I’m glad I did because I think I might like it better this way!

I forgot to take a photo of my entree but I ordered the veggie burrito with no cheese or sour cream. The vegetables in the burrito were surprisingly tasty and included zucchini, broccoli, onions, peppers and beans. It came with a side of rice.

Sometimes without the cheese and sour cream the dish can suffer (because they don’t try to do anything else with it) but this one did not. There was a nice garnish of lettuce, onion and spices on the side that I spread over it, plus a few dollops of guac :)

I enjoyed it very much, took the other half of it for lunch today and it was just as good reheated. It wasn’t the best Mexican restaurant I have ever been to but for a new place in a city with so many restaurants, it did stand out to me. The guacamole bar was really unique to me, I had never seen that before.

The prices were good too. For my entree, plus the drink, plus half the guacamole (me and a friend split the cost for the table) my bill came to $15 and I had leftovers so you figure that for 2 meals, not bad :)

We’ve all been bragging about it to our other friends and definitely want to go back soon. Although the veggie options are not plentiful, I’d be perfectly fine just eating the chips & guacamole!

Adobo Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

On the wall yoga

On Thursday, I was really feeling the need for yoga. This usually happens when I am tired, sore, stiff and just needing some time to myself to focus on realigning my body and mind. I quickly remembered that they do offer classes here at work so I checked the schedule and sure enough, there was a 4:00 class that lasted an hour. Perfect!

The teacher was new to me but I knew instantly that I was going to enjoy the class. I love how each yoga instructor brings something different, puts their own special touch on their teaching. I’ve been doing yoga for several years now (off and on) and this was the first time I had done what I will now refer to as “on the wall yoga” :)

I’ve used a wall before for balance during tree pose, before I got steady enough to do it on my own, and also for laying down poses like “legs up the wall” for relaxation. But no kidding, the entire class was on the wall! I wish I could’ve taken some photos but that would’ve been weird so I went searching instead.

We started out using the wall to work on our downward facing dog pose.

Sorry, I couldn't resist!

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Only instead of placing our paws hands on the floor, we were standing and placed them on the wall. We also transitioned from downward dog to plank, did some side planks, and then worked on our chatarunga, which is one of the most challenging yoga moves for me personally. The instructor said it was good to practice on the wall because some of our body weight is still in our legs and not so much pressure is placed on the wrists. This must have worked because today, my triceps are really sore!

This is what it normally looks like on the floor:

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After doing this for a while, we started working on triangle and warrior II, placing the little toe side of our back foot against the wall for support and our hand for balance if we needed it. It was during these poses (especially triangle) that the instructor noticed my tendency to hyper-extend my legs. I’ve always been conscious of this but she helped show me a way to put a slight bend in the knee and engage the calf and thigh in order to get the same strengthening effect in the leg without hurting the joints. I love how I learn something new every time I do yoga!

Triangle - I used a block under the front hand

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Does anyone else sing "The Warrior" by Scandal when they do this?

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But my favorite time of this class had to be when we did half moon pose. This is one I feel like I can NEVER do, mostly because I don’t practice it much. But I can never get my leg up very far or keep my balance very long. We started out in triangle, then turned a bit and extended the back leg up the wall. The full expression of the pose is like this:

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So just picture that with that back foot against the wall and that front hand on a block and you get me :) We did each side a couple of times and eventually, when we felt comfortable, we could gradually remove the foot from the wall. It was amazing! I felt such a sense of confidence from being able to do these more challenging poses, not to mention the incredible stretching!

After all those standing poses, we finally sat down and did some bridges with our feet up on the wall.

What bridge pose normally looks like

For relaxation, we did some legs up the wall and lying down spinal twists (not using the wall) then shavasana. It felt so good do this after all that hard work:

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I was so glad that I went to this class, it was meant to be. I’m definitely going to have to practice some of these poses on the wall at home. And maybe go back to this class next Thursday too :)

Focus on your strengths

For those of you who may be new to my blog, you may not know that from 2007-2008, I lost 70 pounds through my own hard work and lifestyle changes. When I was getting ready to turn 25, I found that I just wasn’t happy. Sure, I was married to a great guy, had a good job and managed to have a social life with my wonderful friends. But I did not like myself. The way I looked, the way I felt, nothing. So I worked hard and I changed.

But, ever since I reached a certain point on the scale, I’ve been obsessing (off and on) about how to get past it. I never really reached my original “goal” weight but I got to a comfortable point and never made it any further. When the number doesn’t go down, I get frustrated and think I’ve failed somehow. Then there are some times when that number starts to creep up and I get worried, especially when my clothes start to get tighter. So I refocus, get those few pesky pounds off and I’m back to where I was. This especially happens in the summer, I’ve come to refer to it as my “summer fluff.”

I know a lot of people think maintenance is easy but I do not. I feel like it has been a much harder struggle than weight loss ever was for me. Maybe that is because it’s been so long ago now that maintenance mode has just taken over. But I feel like every choice I make is important and if I don’t want to end up back where I was in pre-2007, I have to always be working hard at it. Partially, that is true. But I also need to stop putting so much pressure on myself. Because I know me and when I’m under pressure, it’s no good. It doesn’t motivate me, it breaks me down.

So, recently I have ceased weighing myself. I think it’s been well over a month since I’ve stepped on any scale. While I’ve given up weighing before, this time I feel like I really don’t care what I weigh anymore. Not in a “I’m giving up” way but in a “I’m breaking free from this torture” way. If I’m still wearing the same clothes I was after my initial weight loss, if I feel good and if I can be comfortable where I am, then why does it matter if I weigh one number or another? Why am I always trying to improve when I’m perfectly fine where I am?

I have also realized that by always being focused on calories, weight, exercise, that I am missing so much of the rest of my life. Did I mention I’m turning 30 next year? ;-)

If I’m being real with myself, I have to remember that I originally sought to lose weight for health reasons. I was sick, borderline everything and only 25 — a scary situation. These days, I am very healthy, all of my numbers are in the optimal ranges and my doctors are always impressed with my diet and workout regimen. So why do I care that I don’t have a flat stomach? Why do I care that I never got out of a certain “decade” in weight numbers? None of those things are health-related anymore.

I think some of it is comparing myself to others, seeing people my same age and height that weigh a lot less than I do. Some of it is the media I’m sure, even though I like to deny that one a lot. Some of it is my natural perfectionism. I am my own worst critic sometimes. But I’m making some great progress!

I hope she doesn’t mind me saying this but I had a real breakthrough when my friend Stephanie posted the following statement on her blog: “in my head, i’ve always admired very lean women, with their flat stomachs, small chests, and perfect pencil legs. but in my heart, i realize that’s not me, and i’m better learning to love what i do have than longing for what i don’t have.”

It was like the light shone down from above and the chorus sang “Hallelujah!” I had a major revelation about myself thanks to some thoughts from a friend about her own situation. This is why blogging is great and why we need to communicate with each other through this medium.

Little by little, I am learning to embrace who I am, my life, the body that I have and you know what? It’s great! Instead of wanting to be the next size down, I love my size. I also love that I have to buy one size at one store and a different one at another because clothes are made differently and I am not shaped like anyone else but me. It’s okay that I can’t wear low rise jeans, really. It’s better to wear what is flattering than to try to hide what is not in order to be trendy.

So if you’ve ever felt this way too, my advice would be this: instead of focusing on the things we don’t have or what we do have that we don’t like, we need to start focusing on our strengths. I’ll go first.

I may not have a flat stomach but I have incredible arms! Stuff may jiggle in places I don’t like but darn it, I have completed 5 half marathons, I still work out 5 days a week and I feel incredible! I am also feeding my body the healthiest diet I know and still allowing myself the occasional splurges (I heart french fries). I may never wear a two-piece but my doctors say I am very healthy!

Does it get any better than that? I think not :)

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