Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Encountering your defeats (Maya Angelou)

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.”
- Maya Angelou
(Source)

Wellness Diva #9: Jessie (The Fab Yoga Instructor)


I am SUPER excited to highlight another Wellness Diva on my Blog: Jessie Elenbaas. Last month, we got to hear from Megan, our Optimist Diva. Megan shared: " Life truly has so much to offer and the possibilities and opportunities we're blessed with are endless! When you tweak your mindset to viewing life in this manner, you can't help but embrace each day with an optimistic attitude."

Megan provides a great introduction to our next Diva, Jessie, who is my favorite yoga
instructor. Jessie's attitude towards her practice of yoga and life in general reflects much of Megan's mindset to embrace each day, be thankful for our blessings, and accept ourselves for who we are in the present.

I first took a class with Jessie when I was a member of 24 Hour Fitness several years ago. I then started taking classes from Jessie at Maya Whole Health in Fremont. A year or two later, Jessie started hosting outdoor yoga classes in Fremont (by the canal) and a
t Gasworks park. I've never had a more incredible mind-body experience with yoga than I did when I first experienced outdoor yoga with Jessie.

Jessie and her outdoor yoga group at Gasworks Park in Fremont!

Jessie is simply the BEST instructor. She is warm, friendly, kind, beautiful, athletic, and REAL. She doesn't make the class about herself, and doesn't go over the top with chanting and meditation (two of my pet peeves with instructors). She brings her own music mixes to her classes with the coolest songs that help you relax and have more fun. She always says for us to come to class just as we are, and try to let go of other things in our lives that might be weighing us down. In short, Jessie has made a great contribution to my overall wellness and the wellness of many.


Let's hear from Jessie!

1. When did you first start learning about yoga? How did you start practicing?

I took my first yoga class in Chicago with my manager at work at a gym. It was a hot yoga class and I remember thinking it was strange and I didn't understand all the poses
(nor the benefits of them). And I felt a little claustrophobic in the hot room so I didn't practice again for 3 more years. Then i took a class at 24 Hr Fitness and liked the power flow in a regular room and enjoyed it much more. I started taking more classes and grew to enjoy it very much. And because I had taught other forms of exercise in the past (kickboxing, dance, etc), I thought...I could probably teach yoga too!

2. What about yoga were you drawn to once you were in a routine of practicing?

I really enjoy vinyasa flow yoga because it's very fluid (like dance) and has power elements to it so it feels physically challenging as well as has elements of stretching to it. I also love music so found that the kind of music I enjoy listening to during yoga fit best with Vinyasa Flow.

3. What inspired you to become a certified yoga instructor?

At 24 Hr Fitness, I was allowed to start teaching without my certification but I wanted to have a deeper knowledge and understanding of the practice so I decided to get certified. I'm so glad I did because it taught me so much about teaching yoga which is quite different than teaching other physical exercises. It's essential to know the anatomy of the body in order to teach safely for the students.

4. What is your favorite part about teaching yoga? How do you feel it contributes to YOUR overall wellness (mental, emotional, physical, etc).

I love teaching yoga because I feel that I am helping people understand their bodies better as well as encouraging them to love themselves. Our world teaches us to critisize and compare ourselves to others more than accept who and where we are in our lives. When I teach yoga, I stress embracing who/what/where we are in our lives at this very moment. To be in the present...and to accept ourselves in that moment...that is a true practice of enjoying life. And because many of the poses have many benefits for us physically and mentally, it often helps us release our emotions about life as well.

5. What is your favorite part about practicing yoga?

I enjoy being a student just as much as I enjoy teaching. When I'm practicing yoga, I'm listening to my own body and responding instead of always focusing on where to take the practice which is what I have to do when teaching. Doing my own personal practice at home allows me explore new flows and sequences so I become a better teacher as well the more I practice on my own as well as learning from other teachers.

6. What would you say to people who are hesitant to try out yoga because they are "not flexible enough"? :)

It takes working on our flexibility in order to become flexible. Saying we won't do yoga because we're not flexible is just an excuse or fear of the unknown of what yoga involves. It doesn't mean we have to twist ourselves like a pretzel. It means that we start to work on our balance, strength, flexibility and learning tools for peace and stress relief as well. Yoga is much more than being flexible. It can be fun to see our flexibility improve once we start to practice yoga and give it a try at least a few times to see some improvement.

7. Anything else you'd like to add?

While yoga is something I love for its physical and emotional benefits, it's not my religion. I don't teach chanting or some of the traditional beliefs associated with yoga. So doing yoga doesn't have to mean that it has to be one's religion. Yoga is a wonderful complement to many other cardio exercises and it's a great way to find time for ourselves in a very busy world. Yoga will also help us age with grace so we can be confident and independent for a wonderful life.

Jessie, thank you for being you!

To learn more about what Jessie's up to in Seattle and her outdoor yoga practice, please visit her Facebook page! You can also visit Jessie's great yoga blog!

Interested in learning more about yoga and trying it out for the first time? My recommendation is to do an intro series class to learn everything properly before you truly dive in!

My favorites in Seattle:

8 Limbs Yoga

Yoga Life

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

London calling

Last month, one of my best friends, Monica, left for London to start an adventure with work and life in general. This Wednesday, one of my best friends, Erin, leaves for London to start a new adventure with grad school and life in general. Notice a trend?

Erin and I this Summer in Leavenworth, WA

Last night, I treated Erin to dinner at Salty's on Alki to provide her with a proper send-off, and to thank her for being one of the best friends I could ever have (note: I did not leave the restaurant without crying). The other day, my friend asked me what Erin meant to me, and I struggled putting things into words. All I could say: "Erin is one of the most incredible people I know. She is a rock in my life."

Erin is (quite possibly) the most dependable friend I have. She is kind, fun, easygoing, and always a treat to be around. She is always true to herself. I am so grateful for the friendship Erin has given me. I am sad to see her leave, but couldn't be more happy for her to go to London and live the dream she's wanted for so long.

Blast from the past: Erin and I at dinner in April 2008 - yikes!

In reflecting on last night, I realized that it's not only important to be thankful for the friends we have, but appreciate what friends can provide, even when we are apart. I told Erin that one of my favorite things about our friendship are our nutty emails. I know that when I'm having a bad day I can send Erin and email with a subject line such as: "ASIDHAOISHDIAOSHDODOIASD" (I'm serious) and she will respond within minutes and make my day so much better. We also are great writing letters to each other, so have decided to become "postcard pen pals" while she's in London.

Erin - thank you for being you! I wish you nothing but greatness and blessings in London!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Little treats for self (pink sandals)


Yes, I am writing a post about pink sandals. Not only pink, but pink sandals with silver sparkles. And here's why...

In March, I was getting ready to go on a trip to Phoenix with my family and I made the following decision: I needed a pair of ridiculous, girlie, PINK sandals that were NOT a typical purchase of mine. Thanks to zappos.com, I was able to search size 8, pink, Reef Sandals and the following resulted: $22.00 of amazingness!

When I was in Colorado, my cousin said: "everyone needs at least one item in their wardrobe that is ridiculous and fun." I completely agree! Every time I wear my ridiculously fun Reef pink + sparkly sandals I feel fabulous, girlie, and they remind me of awesome times at the pool with people I love. Plus they are truly comfy!

Enough said. Yes - I'm nuts, but you know I have a point...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Colorado + Cousins = Calm

Last night, I got back from a week long vacation in Colorado, after visiting my cousin Robin and her family. The trip consisted of the following:

-Great wine
-Great food
-Hanging out at the pool (almost every day)
-Playing wit
h my little cousins, Jillian & Anna (Robin's daughters)
-Great conversations with constant laughter
-Walks around the neighborhood (past mountains, rivers, and viewpoints)

-SLEEPING...a lot.

I have made this trip every Summer for the past four years, and have never once debated going. For one, the trip is an incredible vacation. Each day I get to sleep in, go to the pool, drink wine, and spend quality time with my family.

For two, going to Colorado is a complete mental/emotional/physical recharge for me. Robin's home is located near Mt. Sopris, so I spend a significant amount of time outside, appreciating the scenery and fresh air.

For three (and most importantly), Robin and her family mean the world to me. Robin (who was also our Pilates Wellness Diva!) is one of my closest friends and I consider her a sister. Her husband (Alan) is amazing, and so are her two girls, Jillian and Anna. Jillian (5.5) and Anna (8) make me laugh every day. They are kind, loving, spontaneous, and absolutely HILARIOUS. Being with Jillian and Anna remind me that the simple things in life are what bring you happiness.

Some of my favorite pictures from this year's trip:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

10 Days of Health: Revisited


Well, my 10 Days of Health plan is over. My self-rating on a scale of 1 to 10 in regard to my experience and overall success: 5.5. This is why...

To revisit the plan:

10 Days of Health - FOCUS POINTS (in order of priority):

1. Sleep!

2. Cut back on alcohol.

3. Exercise daily.

4. Eat healthy.

...

SLEEP: This was the deal breaker that contributed to my 5.5 rating. While I've managed to get around 7.5-8 hrs of sleep the past few nights, the first 6 days of my plan were awful. I had the toughest time sleeping (mostly due to stress), and felt completely fatigued and lethargic in the mornings. I have learned that sleep can either make or break my overall health. My progress in other areas (ie exercise and diet) is truly hindered without enough sleep. Thus, the other focus areas were not as strong as they could have been during my 10 Days...

CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL: I will say I was successful in this area for the most part. I certainly wasn't booze-free for 10 days but I did cut way back (averaged 1 drink per evening).

EXERCISE DAILY: I did okay in this category (about 7 of the 10 days). I managed to go for long walks, a yoga class, a run, and even went hiking last weekend. Not too shabby. I would have liked to fit in more cardio to get my heart rate up, but perfection in this category is unrealistic. It's the effort that counts these days :).

EAT HEALTHY: I did okay in this category as well, minus my sugar consumption, which I've noticed has (somehow) increased in recent weeks. This is something I hope to address (stay tuned for a future post on sugar consumption).
....

MY CONCLUSION: It is always hard to do everything right all at once. Most often, we overcompensate in one area, or we fail trying to do each thing perfectly and become frustrated and give up. In the future, my recommendation is to pick one or two ( at the most) areas to focus on - perhaps just sleep and exercise. With enough sleep, you feel rested, less stressed out, have more energy to workout, and then will end up making better eating and drinking choices.

Some good food for thought...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Little treats for self (Aveeno whipped souffle!)


One of my most favorite skin care lines is Aveeno. In short, have never once bought an Aveeno product that I did not like. I have tried shampoo, conditioner, face lotion, body lotion, bubble bath, lip gloss, shower gel, and face wash...and blown through all of them! Their products are great for sensitive skin, and their fragrances are light and comforting (yes, I said comforting).

My latest favorite Aveeno find is their 24-hour ultra-hydrating whipped souffle. It's made with shea and cocoa butters, and is basically heaven in a bottle. I have read before that shea and cocoa butter is great for your skin (here's an awesome article about the benefits of Shea, Cocoa, and Mango butter) and I believe it. I've already gone through one bottle and it absolutely works.

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Motivation to get in shape

1. You'll look even better in a swimsuit.
2. If you weigh less your boyfriend can do more push-ups with you on top of him and then he'll also get in better shape.
3. Greater chance of dating a hot guy like Reggie Bush.

Note: I happen to love Kim Kardashian. I'm serious. Hopefully this post has inspired you to go to the gym. Or it's at least made you chuckle.

Photo Source: Kim Kardashian & Reggie Bush // April 2008 GQ Magazine - http://gossiponthis.com/2009/03/17/kim-kardashian-reggie-bush-magazine-photospread/kimkreggiegq2/

Bliss in 2 hrs (Rattlesnake Ledge)

Hadley and me at the viewpoint - wahoo!

Today I went hiking with my friend, Hadley. We went to Rattlesnake Ledge in North Bend. The only bummer about the hike was that it felt like more like a tourist destination rather than being out in the wilderness. However, the exercise, gorgeous views, QT with Hadley (and Lucy) and getting out of the city made it well worth it!

Lunchtime (awesome PB & J sandwiches) - Lucy felt a bit left out...

If you haven't already gone on a hike this Summer, I'd highly encourage it. If you live in Seattle, there are hundreds of great trails just 30 mins to 1.5 hrs out of the city. It is very important for me to remove myself from noise, technology, and (sometimes) life drama on a regular basis. I find it keeps me centered, healthy, and happy.

One of the beautiful views of the day...

When we got to the lake, there was an outdoor yoga class going on - so awesome!

Rattlesnake Lake - absolute heaven!

Little treats for self (MAC heaven!)

Yesterday I ran an errand to MAC at Nordstrom to replace a lipstick I had lost. I walked out (of course) with my lipstick, new blush, new eye shadow, and "Sheen Supreme" lipstick.

Getting my makeup done at MAC and treating myself to a few new items is always a total mood boost for me. You take care of yourself and end up with quality products that last a long time and make you feel fabulous. Done and done!

YESTERDAY'S FINDINGS:



All products and images by MAC: http://www.maccosmetics.com/index.tmpl

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Inspiration for the Day


I saw this quote on my friend Shayne's Facebook page. It basically sums up my attitude about work and how I live my life. Love this!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

10 Days of Health: a realistic goal?


After yet another weekend of too much fun and feeling chronically tired (even with 8 hrs of sleep the last two nights!) it hit me that I needed to step up to the plate with my health. Unfortunately, I am (often) the queen of setting goals that I don't follow through with (usually because they're unrealistic). Thus, I wanted to think of a feasible "action plan." My result: 10 Days of Health.

Starting yesterday, I decided that I would commit myself to good health for just 10 days. I figure, more than a week would produce better results than 7 days, but two weeks might be overkill?


The key word that comes to mind: Discipline. Discipline is something that I feel very few people possess. I have some friends who are beyond disciplined in certain areas of their lives, whether it be exercise, eating, sleep, or spirituality. My friend Shawna works out Monday through Friday at 4:30 am without fail. She is in great shape. Her morning workout is key to her sense of peace and stability each week.

10 Days of Health - FOCUS POINTS (in order of priority):

1. Sleep!

2. Cut back on alcohol.

3. Exercise daily.

4. Eat healthy.

BONUS POINTS:
Join me in committing to 10 days of health! Let me know what your plans entail...and stay tuned for my findings!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Appreciating the scenery

Last night I went to my friend Hadley's housewarming party. Hadley moved into a condo in Capitol Hill and had a party on her building's roof top deck. The view from the deck was incredible. It was an instant reminder of how lucky I am to live in a beautiful city with great friends.

Thanks for the great time, Hadley!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Family & Friendship in D.C.

"A friend should be one in whose understanding and virtue we can equally confide, and whose opinion we can value at once for its justness and its sincerity."

Last Thursday, I went to D.C. for a work conference. Outside of meetings, I was able to see 5 out of 5 of my favorite people in D.C. - plus one dog. :)

On Thursday night, I hung out with my old high school friend, Seth, and his fiancee, Anna. We had the BEST time, and I was so happy to catch up with them. Anna went out of her way to pick me up at the airport, check me into my hotel (yes, I need this kind of assistance) and take me out for an AWESOME dinner at the Logan Tavern (where Seth and Anna had their first date - too cute!).
(L to R) Terrence, Seth, and Anna in Milwaukee at our friend's wedding last year

Seth and Anna are two of the most hilarious, kind, and loving people I know. We (of course) did nothing but laugh and share great stories the entire evening. Since a majority of my closest high school friends live out of state, I am always very grateful when I get to see them.

On Friday night, my friend, Eric, took me out to dinner at the most amazing restaurant, Art & Soul. We had excellent Spanish wine, lovely salads, a steak dinner, and a great dessert. The Art & Soul Staff was incredible, and had the most impressive customer service I've ever experienced at a restaurant (Seattleites need to learn from these folks).

Eric and I after dinner - note the cool building in the background...

Of course, Eric and I had such a fun evening. Eric is one of the most kind, sincere, giving, and honest people I know. He never hesitates to give me his true opinion, and motivates me to be a better person and stay true to who I am and what matters most to me in life (random fact about Eric: Eric's favorite expression is "Goose bump moment!").

On Saturday night, my cousin, Amy, picked me up at my hotel and took me out for dinner and drinks in Capitol Hill. On Sunday, we went to brunch and walked the market. Despite the 100+ degree weather (with full humidity) it couldn't have been a better time. Amy could not have been happier to see me or more generous with her time that weekend.

Amy & Jack - chillin at home...

With no cousins in Washington State (or anywhere close by, for that matter) my time with my family is of great importance to me. In addition, this weekend I got to see Amy's husband, Justin, and their fantastic and hilarious dog, Jack (who of course made me smile nonstop).

When I got in bed last night, despite my long day of traveling (which resulted in me being in a very cranky mood) all I could think was: "How blessed am I to have such wonderful people in my life?" I felt like the luckiest person in the world to spend quality time with 5 close friends in one weekend.

So...thank you, friends! (and Jack).