*That* moment.

*That* moment. 

The one with life altering, life changing, transformative implications.
…it’s rare that you can actually pinpoint *that* moment. 

But when you do pinpoint a moment like that, it’s kind of amazing. 

This morning, on my way back from the studio after teaching a super sweaty toned, firm, fit and ready class, I glanced at my email and saw this message waiting for me:

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*That* moment — two years ago today, that I took my very first barre n9ne class. I knew, after taking that first class — with the one and only Tanya Croteau! (<3) — that I had to go back. There was something there, something I needed more of. Little did I know just how life altering that day would be two years ago. I know I say this often, but I seriously could not be more grateful for the home barre n9ne studio has in my heart, for the continued opportunity to teach, to pay my own experiences forward, and to see clients transform on their own, right before my eyes. *That* moment. <3

After thinking about the whole ‘moment’ concept, the second life changing moment that came to mind? This one:

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That would be Scott and I (aka #teamsutera!), after our longest Chicago Marathon training run: 22 miles. It was one week after our WORST long run of our lives (this 20 miler...to jog your memory), and we both desperately needed a redemption run, one that would prove to both of us that we could haul ass for all 26.2 miles on race day. It was *that* moment captured in the picture above, where you can see the pain in my eyes and  in my scrunchy lines on my forehead that I knew: we would cross that finish line on race day. And yup, we totally did. *That* moment was life altering, too.

(and you better believe that our marathon experience is VERY much on my mind lately after last week’s Boston tragedy. I can’t say whether or not #teamsutera has another marathon in us or not…but it is weighing heavy on my mind, and on my heart, for sure).

*That* momentwhen everything falls into place, everything fits, and transformations begin. 

On “found” time

So this past weekend didn’t go as originally planned. You see, I was all set to spend a good 8 hours at barre n9ne in training for Pound – Rockout Workout, a training that was *supposed* to happen this winter but a certain blizzard kinda interfered. But after last week’s events, it proved not to be the safest of times to be traveling into Boston for our friends at Pound, so alas, training didn’t happen afterall.

…which lead to a whole bunch of  “found” time on Saturday. 

Both of my usual Saturday morning classes at barre n9ne were already subbed out. I was supposed to be training for Pound, afterall. So just like that — my Saturday was a clean slate, with absolutely no schedule, no agenda, no plans whatsoever.

The ‘old’ me would’ve whipped out my to-do list…or started an entirely fresh to-do list, and gone to town. You see, I think I’ve done a good bit of changing the past 8 months or so — I suddenly remembered this post: the one where I told myself to chill the eff out. And I remembered how anxious and upset I felt, how all up in my head with mind crazies galore I felt, how utterly strained and unhappy I felt. And I remembered how much I did *not* want to return to that ‘self’ again.

So lo and behold — Saturday became a free-for-all, a day where suddenly ‘found’ time became fun time versus productive time. 

It started with an awesome, but very challenging, run with the hubs. #TeamSutera reunited once again to tackle one of our favorite ‘long’ running routes from our very first half marathon training almost 4 years ago. The route is about 20 mins from our house so we drove to the starting point and parked our car — this after sleeping in, awaking to *no* alarm clock, something that happens very rarely at the Sutera Manor these days — and off we went.

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We chugged along and man, it felt a lot more challenging…but in a very good, very ‘worked’ way, a way my body needed to feel. I admit that I battled my head a little bit at first, getting super frustrated that the run wasn’t one of those easy-breezy-could-run-forever runs. But then I remembered that sometimes you gotta work extra hard for the miles and let your body work. And after I gave myself that gut check reminder pep talk, I felt much better and chugged side-by-side with Scott.

It turned out to be an incredible run.

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I think our smiles say it all — it was one of those cleansing, refreshing, replenishing runs. I think all of the emotion of the week needed to escape and the miles were our escape route. We ran along freshly-rained-on pavement and all around us it just felt clean, fresh and new. All of us in Boston needed that ‘fresh and new’ feeling, I do believe. And we got it on Friday night and into Saturday morning in more ways than one. (SO glad both bombers are no longer roaming the streets of Boston…so, so glad. 

Other than that run? Scott and I spent some time pitter-pattering (this is SO a “Scott” word haha) around the house before we stopped to watch the opener of the Bruins and then the Red Sox games…and watching both ceremonies where the city paid tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy but also the heroes, I cried. And cried. I couldn’t be more proud of this city, of Boston, our home. <3

After wiping away those tears, we decided it was time to get out of the house for a bit. We wound up at one of our newfound favorite spots for an afternoon drink. They have ample seating at the bar and lots of TVs to watch the various Boston sporting events — and the pours there? They are generous to say the least, ha. ;-)

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It was an awesome break from reality — we chit chatted with our fellow bar-mates, and I even saw my boss there which was kinda funny. But mostly, we just took the time to get away from normalcy, using the ‘found’ time we had on our hands for fun, carefree time together.

So what’s my point here? (other than to blab on and on about how fabulous our Saturday wound up being??)

“Found” time is a gift. Use it wisely.

As recent events have shown us, life is so short, so fleeting and such a blessing. Live every single second of it. My vote? Let’s live a little more like the sentiment behind this Dove Promise message, hmm?

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Little, simple things.

Given all that’s happened this week, I’ve been struggling (like so many of you) to find peace among the sadness.
…the one thing that has given me some semblance of comfort this week? Little, simple things.

Like running with Scott, reuniting as #teamsutera on a few occasions this week (he’s on April vacation from work so I am taking full advantage of our ability for rundates!), including on Tuesday morning where we ran for Boston, as part of the “Runners Unite” movement that swept Facebook on Monday night.

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Even something as simple as opening up a Dove promise to find this message hiding inside:

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Fabulous *and* flawed — amen, amen, amen. <—Please, please, please remember this the next time you mentally berate yourself, or slip away from self-love and into self-hate, or any other form of self-doubt or mind crazies. I need this reminder as much as anyone else. We are *all* fabulous and flawed and that’s what makes us unique, beautiful wonderful people.

Now, I wouldn’t call this next one a ‘little’ thing so much — but my husband, the man I adore and love and cherish more than anything else on this earth, well — he sure knows how to shower me with love and affection. And this time, the man outdid himself. These showed up at my door yesterday when I got home from work:

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Apparently, Scott spied over my shoulder while I was ogling these beautiful Tieks online over the weekend and took it upon himself to go back and order me a pair (knowing full well I would never spend that kind of money on shoes myself). Seriously? Can I keep him please?? <3

And finally – the simplicity of a long walk on ‘date night’ which is always Wednesday night for us. The one night during the week that neither of us is busy. We cherish that night together. And normally, that night involves a great meal, a couple of glasses of wine and a movie or a catch-up-on-DVR night. But last night? Last night was different. We opted for a long walk after dinner — to a local frozen yogurt spot for a sweet treat. We wound up walking over 10k steps or a little over 5 miles. And we just talked. And talked. And talked. About the Boston marathon tragedy. About the possibility (or not) of running another marathon. About random little things we noticed along the way — like the big dipper in the dark night sky while walking home. Or how the crickets sounded while we made our way back to our house along our favorite running route. There were no distractions. No tv’s with news stations sharing more sad stories. No iPhones with text alerts and Facebook updates. Not even a picture to commemorate the occasion. Just us. And it was perfect.

Little, simple things. #needed

Gratitude and #prayersforBoston

So this post has nothing to do with running, or pace times, or PR’s or any of that. Yet, it has everything to do with running, too.

Running towards gratitude, running towards faith, running towards *something* that will help me wrap my head around what happened at the Boston Marathon today. Yet, no matter what I do — I just can’t fathom it. Unthinkable. Sickening. Tragic. Gut wrenching. Wrong.

The moment I heard about the bombings at the finish line of the marathon, my heart sank. For about a million reasons. For the lost lives and grave injuries. For the emotional trauma that suddenly encircled this fine city I call home. For the runners who had their moment stolen from them. For the people – spectators, fans, runners — who had their lives thrown upside down…or worse, lost.

As soon as I got home from barre n9ne tonight — where I took solace in the normalcy of teaching one of my favorite classes of the week — I went searching for the right words, His words, to give me comfort, or at least to give me a semblance of serenity.

What I found was this passage:

Incorporating gratitude into our lives is not about walking around with a cheesy grin on our face, denying the heartaches or injustices of life. We don’t have to sacrifice reality to be grateful. We simply need to adopt a gratitude focus that affects every moment of each day (Ephesians 5:20).

To me — today’s events bring everything around me to a screaming halt. All the trivial things that were on my mind from earlier in the day, suddenly went whooshing out of my mind. None of it mattered anymore. I just sat there thinking — of my husband, my sisters, my parents, my in-laws, my friends and sister-friends. And I felt such an immense sense of gratitude. That none of my immediate loved ones were lost today. They are safe. We are safe. I feel extremely blessed and grateful for that simple fact. For safety. For love. For faith.

So tonight, tomorrow, and every other day — please, hug your loves ones tighter, release the trivial frustrations from your day and focus on the good, the grateful, the beautiful. Run towards gratitude, towards faith, towards love. Just run. #prayersforBoston

******

In honor of today’s events, I will be running tomorrow morning in a Runner’s United to Remember virtual run. Every single mile will be run with gratitude and an open and joyful heart. Join me, won’t you? <3

Foodie Friday — I’m a total #foodlovah

Sooooo yeah. Foodie Friday started out as a great regular blog series for me. …but in order to have a ‘series’ you kinda hafta keep up with it, huh? :/

I’m gonna go ahead and admit that for awhile there I was feeling pretty uninspired on the food front, eating a *lot* of the same things on repeat. And in some ways, that’s a very good thing (um hi, oatmeal, I promise I will never betray you). But in other ways, a change-up was long overdue.

And after this little change-up time period of mine, I’ve discovered something: I’m a *total* #foodlovah. Like, holy crap do I love food. A lot. I could talk about it for hours. Legit. Just ask my friends, they’ll tell you. Hell, you already know this if you follow me on instagram — my pictures are at *least* 50% food related (and that’s a generous underestimate, I fully realize).

Anyway, I thought it was time to bring back Foodie Friday, if nothing more than to share with you some of the new foodie finds I’ve discovered a total love affair with. And maybe it’ll inspire you to instill a foodie change-up of your own! Because guess what? #healthytastesgood :-)

*****

Kabocha — where, oh WHERE, have you been all my life? I mean really, these girls are forever talking about kabocha. And then my sis joined the kabocha train and I was quick to snag a seat beside her on the train. It’s amazing. Has such a fun sweet potato/squash texture that I just adore — and the calorie bang for your buck it provides (35 cals per cup)? I’ll take it!

Lately, kabocha has been my faaaavorite topping on salads. It’s been in heavy rotation on work-from-home-Friday. This past Friday I roasted up some brussel sprouts to go along with the kabocha and tossed it on top of arugula and goat cheese (another obsession of mine lately…especially when it melts into the salad thanks to the warmth from the roasted veggies! I die…).

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Spaghetti squash pad thai -- hoooooly yum. I made this last night during a much-needed ‘me night’ while Scott was off at a work event. I have been wanting to try my hand at it forevverrrrr (especially after one of the girls at the studio, a newly-trained barre n9ne instructor – yay, has been talking it up!) and finally had my chance. I started with this recipe and basically just modified it to my liking. I’m no chef and I’m definitely not a food blogger, but damn, I even impressed myself!

Some of the modifications I made to the recipe…
I used shrimp instead of chicken
I used PB2 instead of peanut butter
I used sriracha as my hot sauce
I added a titch of lime juice for flavor
And to thicken the sauce, I added a tablespoon of plain greek yogurt instead of corn starch (since I used PB2 vs. regular peanut butter the sauce started out being watery)
I then tossed in top of stir fried snap peas, mushrooms, carrots and spagetti squash. Added some pea shoots and a tablespoon of chopped peanuts on top and voila. Heaven. Pure bliss.

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Bananas and oatmeal — two of my favorite breakfast foods. But mash them up and call them a cookie? I’m all yours, baby. Two-ingredient cookies -- yessssssss.

My version:

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The only addition I made was a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips. My batch came out to 8 small cookies for about 50 calories a pop. They taste like banana bread bites and are great for a little sweet tooth fix OR as a pre-workout bite if you’re feeling a little hungry but don’t want too much in your belly. I LOVE these little guys.

And finally — that baked oatmeal I was raving about in my post yesterday. What I love most about this? How GREAT it tasted warmed-up at work. I usually cook my oats on the stove the night before and reheat them at work. It works fine and gives me my oatmeal fix but lately, it’s been bumming me out because it’s not *quite* the same as fresh-from-the-stovetop-oatmeal. So I went on the hunt for a good workaround.

And found this recipe on pinterest — pb&j oatmeal, yes please!

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My modifications — I made half of the batch in the recipe (so two servings worth) and wound up using less peanut butter in the baked oatmeal than the recipe called for. (I also used less jam, I didn’t want it to be too sweet — oh, and I used fig butter, excellent choice…). You see, I wanted to ‘save’ some peanut butter to ‘frost’ on top of the baked oatmeal after reheating it at work. And man was that a good decision!! All I needed to do to reheat these at work was add a splash of almond milk and it was just perfect. I usually eat a banana in the oatmeal but in this case, I ate the banana on the side instead. Nice little change-up if you ask me.

So yeah — I told you I could go on, and on, and on, and ON about food didn’t I? This wound up being one of my longest posts in awhile, sorry about that. Well, sorry-not-sorry. Blame the #foodlovah in me. ;-)

Things that make me feel good.

Things that make me feel good: 

 #1: Fun notes next to the various alarms I have set up on my iPhone. Sure this involves a fair amount of early wake-ups each week but just these little notes next to each one make me just a little bit more excited about the dark-thirty wake-ups.

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For example, the ‘b9 6am class’ alarm goes off on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, while the “Tues AM run” is set for Tuesdays (obvs, lol) and then “b9 fitdate/rundate with Steph” goes off each Wednesday. So yup, pretty much every day of the work week involves a 5:xx alarm. And somehow, I’m totally ok with that. <– will be even MORE ok with that when it’s bright and sunny out well before my alarm goes off #hurryupspring

(and yes, I realize that these are all pretty random alarm times I’ve set here. I can’t ever choose a normal time like 5:00 or 5:30, it has to be random. Am I weird or do you guys have these random alarm rules too?)

#2: Accountability by way of new fit gear. Yup, accountability comes in many shapes and sizes folks. Not just from shouting it out loud and proud on Facebook for all to see and hear, but sometimes just the sheer thought of rocking out some new fit gear can get my butt shifted into #ampitup mode.

Wednesday morning was one of those occasions. (aka “b9 fitdate/rundate with Steph”)

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I finally got a chance to test out my new Ellie gear and I am IN LOVE with both pieces. The top is suuuper flattering – looove the neckline and the thumbholes. Perfect for a post-class run or a pre-class layer to keep me warm and cozy before teaching or taking a class at the studio.

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And the bottoms are lightweight, also very flattering and fit just right, totally true to size (top was also true to size, btw).
But best of all? I felt GREAT in my new gear. Energized and excited for class and then a quick run today, just the ‘me workout’ I needed mid-week. #accountabilityrocks

(If you want to try out Ellie, I’m an ambassador for them and so far have really appreciated the new gear so much. If you want to snag 20% off, you can click this link.)

#3: New food finds! Oatmeal lover up in here finally tried a new (to me) way of prepping my oatmeal. Baked!! I am in LOVE with this style, especially during the week when I’m at work and reheating my oatmeal vs. cooking it fresh on the stovetop.

Before:

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After:

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(I practically licked the bowl clean!)

Perhaps this requires a ‘foodie Friday’ post to dig a little deeper into some of the recent new foodie finds I’ve discovered lately. It’s been awhile, hmm?

So there’s that – my “what makes me feel good” list for the week. Fitting seeing as its winesday and I’m off to enjoy a much needed date night in with the hubs.
And yup, wine *will* be served. Cheers! ;-)

Remembering capabilities.

There’s something I’ve been mulling over the last couple of days.

Remembering capabilities. 

I started thinking about it during that solo run I took on Friday after teaching and continued thinking about it while teaching on Saturday and again while running with Scott on Sunday morning. (yayyy #teamsutera!)

My mind was whirring away while running this weekend — thinking about a few things. About how challenging both runs felt — man, running on the treadmill is just NOT the same as running outside. My body made sure to remind me of that this weekend. But that’s the thing — my body is capable of running whatever I want it to run, I just have to let it. Not get freaked out that my mileage is way down, or my endurance isn’t where it used to be, or whatever. Just simply remembering capabilities. This body carried me all 26.2 miles not too long ago — it can sure as hell get through the transition from winter/dreadmill running to spring/summer outdoor running, that’s for sure.

I also thought about capabilities as it relates to all forms of fitness.

…Of my husband pushing himself to work harder at Crossfit, to improve his strength and flexibility and endurance. Of figuring out just what his body is truly capable of — and then pushing for me. Something he’s been doing an awesome job of (proud wifey alert!).

…Of our clients at barre n9ne — who step up to that barre at all times of day or night and push themselves. To work harder, get lower, shake more. I can almost see it in some of them as they work through class — that moment when they think they can’t possibly hold onto the set any longer. I see them squeeze their eyes shut, and either push through or they literally hesitate when I say ‘push lower’ or ‘hang on, you are almost there.’ And it’s that moment between hesitation and remembering capabilities and pushing for it, that I LOVE to see so much in our clients. That moment where they allow the shake at the barre, they embrace it and just go for it. It makes my day when I see a client who maybe hasn’t gotten to that ‘shake point’ before, finally connect with their body in a new way and right before their eyes and mine, they are shaking away, working through that set, relying on their body and remembering their capabilities.

And finally, I’ve been thinking about capabilities as it relates to life in general.

Trusting yourself to go for it, whatever ‘it’ might be. Remembering that your path is set in front of you, yours for the taking, it’s just up to you whether or not you follow that path and truly go for it. And that’s sort of how I’m feeling lately — that this path of mine is shaping up quite beautifully and I guess I can’t say it enough — things are just good right now. And I know that kind of makes for some boring blog posts from me (a lot of the same theme!) but it’s all I got right now — life, my path, our path, kind of great.

And I know that partly has to do with remembering that I’m capable of creating the life that I want to live, my best life right now. Kind of a neat thing to put into words huh? Living your best life now, the one that yes, *you* are capable of living. 

So my advice to get there — to that best life now? Embrace that moment between hesitation and remembering capabilities — and go for it. Do not hesitate. Trust. And just go.

#FitFriday ruminations

#FitFriday ruminations…

Accountability is awesome.

(this would be me both pre-class and contemplating a post-class run and then me after class and after crushing my first solo run in a long time!)

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I talk about accountability a lot, I know. But truly — sometimes it just takes the simplest of actions to truly commit to your intentions — workout related or otherwise. I have to give mad props — yet again — to the barre n9ne community, this group of ladies is nothing short of inspiring and hard working and SO SO committed. Not just to their barre-volutions (you should *see* their transformations — a post for another day…but seriously unreal) but also to their cardio health, too. We have a fun little group of barre n9ne-rs who are part of the ‘barre to 5k’ group Jolene and I launched with Tanya last year. The group started as a way to help clients who wanted to go from walking to running but needed a little support to get there. Today, this group has evolved into one giant cheering squad. Constant words of encouragement and virtual high fives are the norm in this group. And a biggie — the accountability thing. We’ll routinely schedule #b9virtualrundates — reporting back with our progress, post-run. And do you know how hard it is to skip a workout if you’ve *just* told a bunch of ladies that you’d be ‘out there virtually’ at xx time, the next morning? You better damn well believe I’d never miss that run after all that. And the same is true for anyone in this group — you shout it loud and proud, you commit, and you get ‘er done. And then be prepared for an onslaught of “nice job!’ and “way to go’ and “rock on!’ that will come your way, post-run. LOVE. <3

Compliments, while simple in theory, can leave a lasting impact. Case in point:

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That would be a love note my husband left for me on my container of almond milk in the fridge for me to find this morning. I literally laughed out loud when I read what he wrote. (I may have also blushed.) But really? It reminded me that a simple compliment can mean the world. In this case, it reminded me that my husband happens to love me very much and finds me to be pretty cute. How lucky am I?? It also reminds me that I need to be more diligent of complimenting him — as I’ve said before, I have a hard time accepting compliments, especially from my husband. BUT — I’ve been working on it. By not accepting his compliments gracefully, I’m sort of throwing his words back at him in a way, pushing him away instead of pulling him in. So I’ve gotten better at it with time — and I’ve been focusing more on paying *him* compliments back. Especially now that he’s so into Crossfit, my husband is a hottie. ;-)

And finally – paying it forward is by far the most gratifying feeling in the world:

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I came to the studio on Thursday morning to teach my usual 6am toned, firm, fit and ready class and found not one, not two, but three gifts waiting for me at the studio. From clients who have been working their bums off to get fit and healthy for life. And they wanted to thank me and barre n9ne for helping them get there. Wow. Just wow. The sheer fact that I have an impact on anyone to get more fit and healthy (and happy!) is a beautiful thing. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to use my own barre journey as a means of helping others chase their own fit dreams — teaching is my way of paying it forward and I can’t say it enough: I teach with gratitude. Every single day.

So that’s that — my #FitFriday ruminations. I’m in a very happy place today and really hope you all are too. :-)

Sometimes…you just have to look in the mirror

Sometimes…you just have to look in the mirror. 
…and tell yourself: yes, you are beautiful. 

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…even when those mind crazies try to tell you otherwise.

…even when you feel the urge to look in the mirror and critique every last inch of your body.

…even when there is literally no reason to feel down and out, that rat hole just looms and looms and looms.

…until it becomes too much to bear and you stumble head-first right into it.

It’s that moment, that stumble-head-first-into-the-rat-hole-with-no-hope-of-escape. That’s the defining moment when *you* need to be the one to pull yourself out of it.

Because nobody else can, or should, pull you out of it for you. You have to learn to stand on your own two feet, shush those mind crazies all by yourself, pull on those big girl pants and take a flying leap over the rat hole instead.

Yep, that was exactly the talk I had to give myself tonight on the way to the studio. I had one of those moments where I just felt…bad. I wanted to critique myself to death. I wanted to just be my own worst enemy instead of my best friend.

But I knew I had to get OUT of that rat hole and get out of it fast. Thanks to some tough love from the sis and a bestie, I took a step back and looked in the mirror. Thought to myself: ‘shake it off already.’

And said, yes — I am beautiful. 
…in my own way. 
…on my own terms.
…because I’m perfectly imperfect. 

And that’s ok.

Goodbye rat hole. Get the eff outta here mind crazies.
I will *not* let you win tonight. 

#loveletterstoself
#operationbeautiful
#beyourownbestfriend
#insertyourownhashtaghere

The #presence2013 project: conclusions

So today is Easter. Which signifies a million things today, of course.
…but in #teamsutera land, today signifies the conclusion to the #presence2013 project.

But here’s the thing — I don’t want it to end. The past 40+ days have opened my eyes to a whole new world. A world that was staring back at me this entire time — I was just too damn distracted to fully see it.

I mean, just typing those words makes my heart a little bit sad. I have a great, fabulous, wonderful life — am married to my best friend, a guy I adore more than words could ever describe; I have a beautiful, small circle of friends who I would trust with my life, and two amazing sisters who I don’t spend nearly enough time with.

So when I think back to how much time has been wasted by, what, connections? Being uber plugged-in all the time?
…it’s just…enough.

And that’s my conclusion — something I’m thinking about a lot tonight as I sit with my husband on the couch, savoring a glass (or two!) of wine after a fabulous Easter brunch with my in-laws. It’s just enough.

I’m not really even sure what ‘enough’ means — I just know that I’m ready to continually embrace presence. To embrace and love this life I am so blessed to be living. With utter abandon.

…because presence is just too important. And this past 40 days has proven to me that presence is joy. It’s made even the simplest of moments 1000x better because I was fully in the moment. So I guess that’s my conclusion…even though I might not have the right words to describe it, or fully define what it means to me. I just feel it. I sense it. And I want to live it.

Presence is joy. #thatisall

presence