Alice’s Remix

Eat good food!
A fun photo!

Two things came up this week with family, friends and colleagues. Balance was one, the other gratitude. The notion of an actual gratitude list was mentioned to me both in a yoga training and by a friend.

My mom bought me a book for Christmas in 1999, called Simple Abundance. I have been practicing a gratitude list on a regular basis since then. This got me to thinking. I have been consciously seeking to find that which is meaningful for most of my life. What I offer here is nothing new. Sacred Scripture, recovery books, yogis, gurus, Sages, therapists, and inspirational authors have written these suggestions. Here is what I have discovered works for me. I try to adhere to all of this with progress, not perfection in mind.

Alice’s Remix To Achieve Santosha ( Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment, I am learning Sanskrit at a grindingly slow pace. See # 22)

1. Make a gratitude list daily. Add prayer and meditation, or quiet time when ready.

2. Love is a verb. Offer it by words and deeds to my family, friends, and dogs, as often as possible.

3. Eat well, drink water, rest, sleep, exercise, practice yoga, breathe.

4. Find beauty in nature every day.

5, Respect and honor everyone’s journey. We don’t know what we don’t know, about other’s lives.

6. Make new mistakes. ( Thanks Karl!)

7. Learn a new skill.

8. Find a passion-in work or play.

9. Offer compassion instead of advice.

10. Listen, really listen, to others.

11. Identifty instead of comparing, comparison leads to competition, in life the winner is contentment.

12. Eat chocolate.

13. Remember from where you, came be grateful for it, move forward if it was challenging.

14. Live in the moment with the long view in mind.

15. Respond instead of reacting. (I forget this one sometimes)

16. Laugh often.

17. Find inner peace in whatever way is meaningful, scripture, prayer, meditation, service, nature.

18. Offer a sincere compliment or smile, it costs nothing and it may make someone’s day.

19. Love.

20. Be okay with being kind instead of right. Practice this.

21. Try to spend quantities of quality time with loved-ones.

22. Learn a new skill and use it.

23. Be open and honest.

24. Look for the best part of every situation, learn from it.

25. Offer service whenever possible, it will help the recipient as well as the giver.

26. Lead by example.

25. All religions in the end say this” Be good, do good.” ( Thanks Sandi!)


Weighing and Measuring

Balance is key to being happy.  Balance of our precious resources.  My list includes but is not limited to; my physical being, time, money, energy, relationships, spirituality and work.  My friend Karl used to say “Make new mistakes.”  I am here to tell you that one of my repeat mistakes is the whole “too many irons in the fire” lifestyle.  The good news is I am recognizing it early in this time and today is day one of correcting it.   It all sounded good last Winter and Spring when planning.

So it is back to basics.  For me it starts with weighing and measuring everything.  As I have mentioned in my previous writings (see Exposing Myself) on this blog, the ability to have comfort in my own skin can still be a challenge.  These are some of the things I do to remain centered and on track.  Practicing these principles allows me to move through my days with relative ease.

1.  Weighing myself at least once a week.

Begin.  I have been very conscious of everything I put in my mouth for the past three or four years it has been daily.  For the past twenty years a general theme, some periods of time better than others.   The lie I begin to tell myself when I do not weigh myself regularly is that I can maintain my weight.   I work out, I eat well, I still need my scale.  For some this is unhealthy, for me it is key.  Most times for most healthy adults if our weight is fluctuating more than 10 pounds in a month, there is an issue.  So trying not to be obsessive but knowing where my body is, is a good practice.  I look at it like this, most people would not continue to write checks out of their checkbook without checking their bank balance.  I know by weighing myself if I can afford to splurge a little or carefully skimp.

2.  Weighing and Measuring My Food.

Eye -balling portions can lead to bigger or smaller portions.  Even if we are skilled.  I have a strong bar/restaurant background and can still confidently pour 8,  10 or  12 ounces into containers of various shapes and sizes knowing where the liquid will land.  I can also grab” a handful” of cereal and if I am in the right frame of mind, can find pretty damn close to a half cup at any given time.  On a bad day that 1/2 cup handful is  3/4 of a cup with chocolate chips thrown in… and it goes from there, you get my drift.  So knowing our liabilities by being honest with what they are before situations arise is key.   So I do regularly weigh and measure my food!

3.  Weighing and Measuring Time

A do- over. Epic fail right now, truly.   I started a new journey with the love of my life Chris, we exchanged forever vows in Hawaii in August!   AND a whole bunch of other stuff.  I have had to choose, prioritize, figure out, squeeze in, wiggle, jiggle, giggle and cry.  When they crying began… I decided to take a look.  If you know me, you realize that I have a tremendous amount of energy, a lot of  heart and a super positive attitude of gratitude…  in a few months it’ll all be okay.   I am fast approaching the final training of a 13 month journey to complete my 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher Training  Which lands me at  day one week one,  of taking a look at all of it  going back to weighing and measuring my time and energy.    AND BREATHING!!!

I also have a beautiful family they all have different needs.  I am still very family focused!  I have a wealth of friends and colleagues, by the way if you are reading now, I apologise in writing for not being more present.  I love you all.  I know these are “quality problems”  truly I do.  All of this wealth leads to precious little time for myself.  I am cutting out as much TV as I can for sure, other than that, I am thinking.

4.  Weighing and Measuring  My Resources

Back to basics.  When I don’t stick to these, responses become reactions, which usually require more action.  So when I am taking care of managing my resources: food, relationships, time, energy,money and work, I usually respond instead of react.   This means planning meals, eating right, rest, meditation, time with friends and family.   Sometimes it means planning nothing and saying no!  The newer buzz word for this is holistic self-care    I have learned that being proactive in my life, looking at the big picture, keeps me from being reactive later.  Chris says I am one of the most disciplined people he knows. I guess that is the good news.   I think a lot of us struggle with balance, so I realize I am not alone.   This blog is for me today to remind myself to practice what I preach by actively participating in my own care.

5.  Weighing and Measuring MY GOALS:

Changing my life completely in the past three years; residence, business model, relationship status and more, some by choice and some by necessity, has been rewarding.  I can still “make new mistakes” and learn from them.   Learning about my role as my family grows, evolving and finding peace, has been significant.  Negotiating the changes in my body, mind, spirit, and soul have been profound.

Exposing Myself -Boring Stats- Compelling Feelings- Weighty Issues.

Today’s weight, 136 pounds.  I am 5 foot three inches tall with very small bones, a lot of muscle, slender legs and butt , average sized boobs, and a bit of fat on my abs.  At my thinnest, I ‘ve never had a flat stomach or a small waist.  Abs are, in many people’s head, the measure of fitness.  Rock hard, six-pack, ones without surgery, for me a genetic impossibility.  My belly boasts a C-section scar that runs from the bottom of it’s button, vertically to my pubic bone.  I have 16 percent body fat, and my BMI number is 24.  The BMI is  fairly meaningless,  as far as I am concerned, but I am giving my stats here.

I am 52 years old, on July 28.  I look good for my age, but I look my age.   Once I tried to get Botox injections, and although I had a wrinkle-free shiny forehead, I also had a really bad reaction.  Botox gave me a very serious case of dry eye.  So serious that my eyes stung for months and didn’t move much.  I do not look down upon people who choose to do this or any procedure.  This is just not a path I will try again anytime soon.  As far as surgery goes, boob jobs, tummy tucks, lipo, whatever, I have thought about it.  My biggest fear being that I would accidentally die on the table from a procedure .  People would say, “She died from complications of having the fat sucked from her abs!”  Not the legacy I want to leave.   This and tremendous fear of pain stop me.

Luckily, finally, this decade of newly found self-love and acceptance have rooted in my brain and in my heart, so no procedures.   Someday for fun I may have abs spray tanned on me, just to see what they would actually look like.  Now don’t get me wrong I have VERY strong abs!   I am truly fit; just not blessed with the biological predisposition to look “totally cut” !  There are worse fates for a fitness instructor/Yogi.  And my butt is tight!

When I feel insecure, I breathe.  If that doesn’t work, I  change my hair color.  My natural hair is dark brown, currently I am “back to my roots” .  I just came back, about four months ago.  I was blond previous to this for two years.  The other reason I went brunette again, blond is exhausting when one is this dark.  At almost 52,  brown really saves time 30 minutes vs. two hours.   I will never be gray.

Recently a very dear friend of mine who lives out-of-state came to visit.  She made the comment that I was not a “stick figure”.  At the time I was teaching 12 to 15  fitness classes a week,( attended by women two or more decades younger than I who regularly said I worked them really hard) she knew this,  so maybe her expectation was that I would be more “twiggy”.

Maybe MY expectation was that her statement would not even bother me, but it did a little.  What I told her though,  what I truly believe for me is this : When my weight is in the middle of my range, I am the healthiest.  My definition of health is nutritional, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual realms, all in balance.  My weight is an indication of my equilibrium.  I have been there mostly,for twenty years or so.  Except for a tragedy, which caused a weight GAIN and an illness which caused a weight loss.

At my heaviest I tipped the scale at 204 pounds at the end of my second pregnancy ( I went home from the hospital weighing 196 and maintained that effortlessly for a year or so.)  The least I have ever weighed  as an adult,  was at age 20 when I weighed 112 pounds.  Friends cooed and complimented me on my “tiny” figure.  I achieved this weight, hitch hiking and Greyhounding around the country trying to “find myself”.   I looked awful,  dark circles, pale, tired, but even then society rewarded me with applause because I was skinny.

My gene pool is Swiss, German and English mostly.  I am not one of those who knows or cares about all of that.  My mom is short in stature, thicker boned and was voluptuous and beautiful in her day. ( Still is!)  She was always, always, always, on a diet.  So pretty, so young, in a time when Twiggy was all the rage, she experienced young motherhood and body confidence issues.  As a young man my dad was small boned, thinner arms and legs, heavier torso, short-waisted, and handsome.  I am built exactly like my dad.

My love affair with food has been with me since I learned to eat.  Mostly sweets, sadly.  If all health rules were out the window, I would exist on cookies and candies and cakes ( oh my!) unashamed.  Good eating  habits have been hard-fought and won for me.  I was a medium-sized kid, with a bit of fat on her abs, there seems to be a pattern here.

At about twelve years of age, I noticed I was always a bit smaller in the summer months than in the winter months.  These were the months  I swam and rode my bike a lot.   My idea of winter sports was offering hot chocolate to the kids in the neighborhood, while they participated in snowman building or sledding.  If you gave me a hot cup with floaty marshmallows, and an I Love Lucy, or Andy Griffith Show  rerun, I was set.  The cold isn’t my favorite still, but I have learned to embrace it a bit since those days.

I was a cheerleader in high school and truth be told, I tried out so that I could get into the basketball games for free. Funds were tight in my household.   I would have loved to actually play on the girls’ team, but couldn’t do a lay-up to save my butt.  So I cheered for the boys.  I also ran track.  Running has been an off and on lifelong hobby,  lost completely in my twenties. Today, I  can run a 5K in under thirty minutes, when I am not training ,quite a bit under, when I am.   My high school boyfriend broke up with me because I gained 30 pounds my senior year, a combination of late night munchies and “getting my woman body”a term used by my daughters and me.

I work really hard to look this average!  Teaching fitness, I have been ten pounds thinner than this ( last year) and twenty pounds heavier.  I am such an open soul, people have felt compelled to comment on all of my sizes.  Customers and fellow instructors alike.  This is a lot of yammering on about weight and size and activity.  This thought pattern plagues many of us constantly, others of us less.  I am in the less camp now, but have served some serious time in Camp Constantly too.

What I have to say about  this, your life is what you make it.  My comfort zone includes but is not limited to, cooking good food for my family, continuing to nurture my children.   This started at my breast, and then gradually grew into  many other ways as they have developed.  ( I now have a one year old grandson and another grandchild of unknown gender, on the way).  It is important for me to also offer love with words and deed to family, friends, and clients.  To encourage those reading this very blog.  I am a lover and a friend to the wonderful man in my life, Chris, who inspires me to be, well, me.  I am a risk taker, in a good way.  Most times I am open to hear what I need to hear and do what I need to do.

In my profession , I offer education, information and motivation.  My belief is that I also  offer love and strength by listening with compassion and meeting clients where they are.    I had a friend long ago who said “Happiness is a by-product of doing what is right.”  My hope is in this next few months of rebuilding my career, I will do enough of it right.

Blessings, Love, and Namaste’!

Fitness and Yoga Review # 2 Pure Barre 9:45 AM Thursday

In my industry creating a culture of followers is a common marketing strategy.  In fitness, yoga and even dance, there is a hook.  Branding is a look, a style, an atmosphere, a way of being and moving that sets one apart from another.  Pure Barre was fouded by dancer, choreographer and fitness guru, Carrie Rezabek Dorr. Carrie opened her first studio in the basement of an office building in Birmingham, MI in 2001. as stated on the website.  Pure Barre hits the mark in many areas.

I have a rich and varied fitness background:  Each time I plan to take a class I wonder if it is a format I may be able to teach.  In order to work as a Pure Barre instructor, the prerequisite is extensive college dance or cheerleading experience.  ( Nope.  Although I was a high school cheerleader)   The site’s Pure Barre instructor photos all look like they are still in college :  That coupled with the fact that I am, well, let’s just say over forty, pretty much dashes my hopes. The only loophole is the “or recommended by a Pure Barre Franchise Owner”.  At least maybe this means I could be considered, if I desire. Only after I have taken fifty classes though.  Additional reading added insult to injury.  If I want to own a franchise, I must have access to an extra 100 thousand dollars, not borrowed from a financial institution.  Outta luck there…

   As I entered the building at 960 w.5th Avenue Columbus, Ohio, I was warmly greeted by the receptionist.  As noted in my last review, the magic of paying online then walking in to sign a waiver, is great.  There was an additional box asking if I was a fitness instructor, to which I checked yes.  Underneath that, was another area requesting me to promise not to reproduce any of the exercises.  My mind went to one of two things.  If these were advanced dance moves, I probably couldn’t reproduce them.   Or on the other side, one can’t patent a jazz square or a squat, (which I already used in my classes and with my personal training clients). I don’t steal choreography, but sometimes ask permission to use it from my peers.  So I was comfortable promising I wouldn’t.  The human body can only move so many ways, right?

The sales lady asked me if I brought socks.  I didn’t.  I needed them for class.  For twelve dollars and some change, I bought Pure Barre  socks.   I remember this sock!   Walking around the hospital after the birth of my three daughters, I wore these.  They have that stuff on the bottom to keep you from slipping.  Two differences, these came in black instead of light blue or pink : The Pure Barre logo was written on them,  in a whitish silver.  Pretty chic!   I love black!

Part of the above mentioned creation of a culture is “the outfit”.  I looked at the site again, to plan.  As a runner who is super casual when not teaching , I didn’t want to stick out.   Today I was trying to blend.  I don’t often try to blend. Black fitness pants and either racer back or spaghetti strapped top, longish, seemed appropriate.   So I wore my teaching garb, black racer back,  black fitness pants.

Let me say here, I was emotionally unprepared for the stylish clothing and items for sale in lobby.   I noted what I would be buying if I were on a shopping spree.   Low backed tops in every subdued muted sophisticated color imaginable, videos, balls, scarves, you name it.  A plethora of exciting accents to the Pure Barre experience.  AND a skin care line!  I am a product junkie.   I bought my socks and quickly exited into the next room.  The customer service thus far was impeccable, friendly and informative.

The next room was a beautiful carpeted, low lit room. There were mirrored walls on three sides.   Part of one wall sported equipment.  A wooden bar wrapped around the room at waist level.  This bar resembled a ballet bar but wider and about three inches or so away from the wall.

Pretty, fit, Krissy greeted me and handed me my equipment.  A red rubber, stretchy tube with handles on either end.  I had the choice of 2 or 3 pound weights. ( I chose 2,) a small ball about the size of a grapefruit and a mat.   I have used each of these at one time or another, at trainings, in classes, my own or others’, minus the Pure Barre logo on the little ball.   She added we would be moving to the bar, at times too.   I would just have to see what we would do with the rest of it.  Krissy made sure I was comfortable, then placed another first timer beside me, who was treated in the same fashion.

I am sure I was the oldest of the 14 attending that day.  The instructor may have been the second,(after class, she did tell me her age, forty-three.  She is also a proud mom of four – she looked neither.)   As advertised it was an hour-long.  Class consisted of strength moves combined with Pilates,ballet, and yoga.  It was safe,  flowed well, and was fun.  A modern playlist of pop music played in the background.  We were given accurate, expressive, verbal and visual cues.  It is evident that the training Pure Barre requires to become a teacher is thorough.

Krissy had a great eye.  Encouraging me and saying what great form I had made me happy! ( I am a Leo so flattery will get you far).  She also spotted me subtly favoring my right “glut”.  She discreetly and politely offered a verbal correction.  I had a running injury about a year ago, that sometimes flares up.    After explaining to her why I modified her cue in instructor speak, for my butt hurts a little so I am doing it this way instead, we moved on.   The fact that she noticed was impressive.  Moves executed “on the bar” were the intense and again ,as we say in the industry, ” utilized our body’s own resistance”.  Except for the bar or should I say Barre work, nothing we did was new to me.  That said, it was a tremendous workout. I did everything at the most difficult level.

When we finished, I told Krissy she was fabulous and why!  I shared some of my background with her.  She said ” I figured you must be doing something, I don’t know how old you are but you look great.”  She may have read the paperwork, I filled out earlier, but I don’t think so.  Compliments and affirmations were given to several of the clients.  This woman – a total pro.

I ended up telling her I was writing a Review about her class, she asked if I was from Pure Barre.  I told her I was a blogger/fitness pro on my own, writing reviews about our industry

Pure Barre is not a “middle class” workout, price wise.  Customer service is individual and wonderful.  The culture is kind and progressive.  If I did several classes as  a person not in my profession, my body would indeed transform to leaner and stronger,( combined with a lower calorie intake too of course.) .  The cost of all of this is twenty-three dollars per class, or one thousand eighty dollars for six months unlimited.  They offer a one hundred-dollar a month of unlimited class pass  for new clients and several class bundles.  Safe to say, it would be tough on my budget!

The next day I got a customer service call to see what I thought and if I had questions.  Fabulous.  I praised both the fact that I received the call and the class.  I told her I was a blogger, on my own quest.  She liked it .

HOT Power Flow (Level 2) Pai yoga & fitness- Tuesday 9:45 am.

In a long, dimly lit, ninety-five degree room, two rows of serene, yet eager-looking, students were waiting . From “It’s time to begin today’s Practice.” to Namaste’, the sweat was ON!

The description of the class: For experienced students who are already comfortable with the basics, and yogic breathing. OK. No one is prepared for “the basics” at the equivalent of the hottest summer day in Ohio. The weather channel has advisories to the frail and elderly to “stay away” from just living a regular life in this kind of heat.

The Yoga Teacher began the class. Lauren’s bio, impressive, her personality calm and knowing. The theme offered for Contemplation during Practice was about endings and beginnings, cycles in life, letting go of the old, to make room for the new. Good stuff to contemplate while dripping.

HOT Power Flow ( YOGA) Level 2 is described as; introducing a greater variety of postures, and sequences inter-mixed with sustained holds. It was all that and a bag of pretzels ( pun intended). The class, as promised, was challenging, and left the author, feeling stronger, revived and cleansed. Most attending, including my very own yoga mentor who invited me, seemed familiar with the style. The flexible and strong majority flowed through the sequences and held sustained poses with relative ease.

The first personal interaction I had with the Teacher was midway through class. She quietly asked me my name, and then offered a correction. It was the first of several corrections that were offered to me during the class. As Oprah says, “When we know better we do better.” Doing better in this class, has become a goal.

The lobby, storage, rest rooms, changing areas, and studio itself, were sparkling , clean, and minimalist. One of the signs of our times is the ability to pre-register to hold a spot in class, online. Waiver signing was made easy, by the pretty woman in the lobby, she was helpful and kind in every way. The music played during our Practice was unfamiliar, yet fabulous. Yoga props of all kinds were offered as well. High praise in almost all areas. Perfection would have been a few words of warm welcome from the teacher, offered before class.

HOT Power Flow Level 2 is a “must do” for anyone healthy enough to sustain heat and vigor. The suggested towel, was indeed needed, for me, my mat, and the surrounding area of my mat. The also suggested twenty ounces of water previous to class, ended up on the floor.

PAI yoga & fitness in the Trader Joe’s shopping center.

6367 Sawmill Road, Dublin, OH 43017

Navigating career, family, and ever- changing roles.The quest to live simply, wholly and spiritually- while marching to the lovely beat of my always active, wonderfully warm, fabulously fun, frequently fragile life!