Category Archives: OTHER

Belize in Yourself!

One of my goals for my first year of opening Empower Yoga was to lead a Fitness Retreat. There is nothing that makes me feel more alive than working out & traveling. My husband and I travel often and one of our favorite things to do is to explore different CrossFit boxes and yoga studios while we are away. As a result, we decided to plan a Fitness Retreat and invited some like minded and adventure seeking people along for the ride. We always wanted to go to San Pedro, Belize and we felt this would be a perfect spot to host our first retreat!!

We stayed at Sun Breeze right near the heart of the town. What a perfect spot. It was close to town and all of the restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. However, once inside the walls of the hotel it was like a hidden oasis, it was very peaceful and quiet. It was  the perfect vibe for our trip. I would definitely recommend this hotel if you’re looking to visit San Pedro. We actually learned about this spot from our friend Tauni of Lean Power Yoga. She had visited Belize and was incredibly helpful with the planning and organizing of the trip since she knew about the country and all it’s hot spots!

Being home for almost a week now, I am still on a high. I am still processing the magic of those days and it’s been hard to put it into words. The trip really surpassed my expectations. It was an incredible week filled with lots of fitness, friendships, food and fun!!

The yoga was incredible. I got to teach in a beautiful outdoor setting overlooking the ocean. The ambiance was just perfect. It was so lovely and every class offered something different from the previous one giving the yoga aspect excitement and diversity.

The CrossFit was a challenge. CrossFit Wolf hosted us for the week. It was an awesome facility with expert coaches and workouts that were lots of fun and pushed your limits!

The food was fresh and down-right tasty too. We didn’t have a single bad meal- from salads to fish tacos to the tamali street food. Oh and the coffee… nothing better than early morning coffee talk before we started our day or our after workout iced coffee that was so delicious and refreshing!

The folks that joined were so perfect too. Everyone got along well and became fast friends by the time the week was over. The rich conversation, laughter and authenticity made being around each other refreshing and energizing. I’m so honored that my circle of friends grew from this.

Honestly, thinking back, I couldn’t think of a more perfect getaway. I feel so incredibly thankful for all the people who attended. I am confident our experience in Belize just would not have been the same without each of them! Traveling can be hard, but stepping outside your comfort zone and joining other folks you don’t know on an international adventure, even more so. However, this group jumped right in from the moment they arrived and held nothing back. Everyone worked hard, supported each other & challenged their limits. Looking back over the pictures and reliving these moments makes me smile and feel so happy. I cannot wait to do it again!

Check out our itinerary from the trip:
Honestly, there was a great deal of fear involved with planning and hosting my first retreat, because the thought looming in the back of my mind was: What if no one signs up or what if they don’t have a good time?

It’s scary to put yourself out there, but believing in yourself or “Belizing in Yourself”( which was the theme of our trip) is important  we decided to go for it. The Universe definitely had my back because not only did people start signing up, they were a fun, easy going, and incredibly kind group of individuals. I knew that no matter what, we would have a good time, and we did!!

Monday-
My husband, Dan and I flew down a day early to get our bearings and prepare for our guests. To get there we took three planes, I know it sounds like a lot but it really wasn’t bad. We left from Newark, flew to Fort Lauderdale and then Belize City. From Belize City we opted to fly Mayan Air to San Pedro instead of the water taxi. Now, at first I was a little scared about being on the small plane where you actually had to crawl to your seat, but once we were in the air, I really loved it. The views were breathtaking. I was so happy I had the opportunity to see Belize form the air. Once we landed, we headed to the hotel to check-in.  After, we walked around searching for hot spots and sampling some local cuisine, we rented a golf cart so that could be our mode of transportation around the island for the week. We also visited crossfit and our yoga spot. We tried to make sure we were well prepared to show our guests around and answer any questions they had upon their arrival.

Tuesday-
Our guests arrived that afternoon between 1:30-3:30pm. This gave them an opportunity to check-in, recieve their welcome bag, go to their room to unpack and lounge a little before yoga and our welcome dinner that evening. Yoga took place from 4:30-6:00pm , which included a nice 30 min. meditation and our Welcome Dinner was at 7:30pm at the Blue Water Grill!

That first night, we made it clear to everyone that it was their vacation. Yes, we had a schedule, but absolutely everything on that schedule was optional and they were free to do what they wanted.

Wednesday-
We were a group of early risers. Each morning we met outside around 6-6:15am for coffee. We got to chat, see the sun rise, and look out on the beautiful ocean. Around 7am we left for Crossfit. After CrossFit we found a delicious coffee spot (which we visited each day following) called The Baker. It was the best iced coffee I have ever had. The ice cubes were even made of coffee which was an awesome touch. Afterward, we returned to the hotel for breakfast before spending the day relaxing by the pool and walking around the city. We ended the day with a yoga class and meditation before dinner at El Fogon.

Thursday-
Thursday was similar to Wednesday, coffee at 6am, CrossFit at 7:30, coffee from The Baker, and breakfast at the hotel. In the afternoon we visited Science and Soul Wellness Center for SUP yoga. This was a beautiful facility with a beautiful beach. They just opened this past December and I am super excited for them. It is worth checking out!! That night we ate at Romand’s restaurant, Pineapple on the Beach. It was delicious. A must try especially if you love pineapple as much as I do.

Friday-
Friday was a lot of fun. We started the day with yoga on the beach, to stretch out and warm-up before our Crossfit beach workout. It sure was sandy, but a lot of fun. Afterwards we went for coffee of course and had breakfast. If having breakfast in Belize, I highly recommend the fry jacks, they are incredibly tasty!! After breakfast we lounged before heading to the reef and shark alley to snorkel. For dinner that evening we went to Rain and watched the sunset. This by far had the best view and ambience.

Saturday-
Coffee, yoga, and CrossFit to start this day before heading to Secret Beach for the afternoon. Secret Beach was on the other side of San Pedro, so it was a little bit of a hike to get to. The beach was beautiful but the scene was not really for us. There were lots of bars and loud music. We hung out for a little bit and had a taco snack but then left to head back to resort to lounge and relax before our farewell dinner at Blue Water Grill that evening.

Sunday-
On sunday, because everyone was leaving early, we didn’t work out. We gave people the opportunity to sleep in or pack before our coffee talk and breakfast. Then everyone departed. I am glad that everyone arrived back to the states safely and in high spirits, having loved the trip and talking about the next one.

Hosting this retreat was one of the best experiences of my life. I feel full, energized, rested and ready to plan the next one so I can connect with more individuals who are looking for adventure. Thinking about Mexico or Nicaragua for our next trip 😉 Stay tuned!!

For more pics from our retreat, please visit Empower Yoga’s FB page

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Nurture Yourself

Are you feeling a little tired and rundown? Then it is time to take a day out of your busy schedule to nurture yourself and show yourself a little self love. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul.  So turn off your cell phone, cancel your plans, and make some time for the most important person in your world – YOU.

A day for YOU:

Steps to having a great day!

  1. When you get up, start your day with a big smile and thank the Universe for the gift of another day, another chance and new opportunities. Then start your day with a little mediation or mindful breathing- slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.  Imagine your breath nourishing and renewing your body. Let go of stuck energy and anything that isn’t serving you and then imagine all the toxins leaving your body.
  2. Opt away from coffee and instead squeeze some lemon in a mug of hot water.  This further helps you to eliminate toxins in your body and gives your skin a healthy glow.
  3. Now either roll out your yoga mat (visit Empower Yoga), go for a run (or walk) outdoors, or go for a swim. This is your moment to connect with your breath and your mind. Exercise is a great way to clear the mind and gives you energy.
  4. After your morning exercise enjoy a delicious smoothie. I love going to my favorite juice place (Tico’s Juice Bar) for one or I’ll make one at home. I like to add greens (kale or spinach), banana, pb, chia seeds, hemp seed, and coconut water to my smoothies and then blend it all up!! Yum!
  5. Take a bath, maybe add some bubbles, light some candles, and/or relax with a good book. Enjoy the simple pleasure of just being in the moment.
  6. Dress in comfy clothes and plan a leisurely walk in the park. When there, maybe stop to journal on a bench (start a new gratitude journal)  or just stop to look around and appreciate all the beauty that surrounds you.  
  7. Lunchtime make yourself a nourishing salad that will feed your mind, body and soul. My personal favorite is spinach or baby kale; avocado, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, and some grilled chicken with a little oil and balsamic vinegar.
  8. Spend the afternoon in self love. Burn your favorite essential oils, play some of your favorite tunes, and set your creative inspiration free. Maybe create a vision board, setting some goals for yourself, create a bucket list, or just start to declutter an area of your home you’ve been putting off. Get rid of what you don’t need and make room for good things to come.
  9. In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal- maybe some hearty soup. After, unwind with a cup tea (my favorite is raspberry) and climb into bed.
  10. Before you fall asleep, revisit your new gratitude journal and write down three things that you are grateful for. Close your eyes, take a mindful breath, and get lost in your dreams.
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New Year’s Resolutions

Why is it that most people set new year’s resolutions every January, but few stick with them?

While I do believe New Years is a great opportunity to reflect on the past (the good, the bad, & the ugly) and begin to think about ways to make our lives better so that we can be our best and strongest selves, making resolutions because of some calendar obligation is kind of ridiculous. We pick some arbitrary date and then hope all of our problems will disappear.  

From what I found, when creating new years resolutions, many people don’t address the underlying issue to their unhappiness or root of their problem. Therefore, they are setting themselves up for failure. For example, people say they want to lose weight. They’ll start exercising, but they won’t change their diet. As a result, they most likely will not reach their goals; leaving them feeling frustrated and wanting to give up. However, what they fail to realize is that you can’t out exercise a bad diet. So unless you’re willing to look at all aspects of your life and how you live, you most likely will be setting yourself up for failure. It’s also like saying you want to run a marathon; you sign up for the race, you run a few miles, but you never truly train. What happens? Maybe you get injured and can’t finish the race. Unless you’re willing to make changes in all aspects of your life (ie. what you eat, how much you sleep, drink, workout, etc…) and put in the work you won’t achieve what you had hoped to.

There is a simple solution! If you really want to see significant changes in your life you have to be honest with yourself and also be willing to work hard. You need to step outside your comfort zone, and not only in January, but throughout the year. Take control over your thoughts and actions. Look at how you talk to yourself and how you treat your body. Are you doing things that are nourishing to your body and soul? Get out of your own way. Fear is the number 1 limiting factor in whether or not you succeed. Start forcing yourself to do things that may make you uncomfortable. Outside of your comfort zone, is where the magic happens and where we grow. There is a whole world out there we can explore, but you have to be willing to leave some of your thoughts, beliefs, judgments, fears or whatever it is that’s holding you back. We don’t always like to do things that make ourselves feel uncomfortable.  We want the easy fix or easy pill and aren’t always willing to put in the work. In order to be successful, this needs to change.

To start, analyze your life. Rather than thinking about symptoms of your dissatisfaction, try to find things that make you feel good and happy. Then if there are things you want to change, start to create a plan of action. Goals are your new resolutions. What is it you’re hoping to accomplish and what will it take to get there? Write them down, talk about, and start doing the steps needed to accomplish your goals. Sharing your plans and putting them out into the universe will help them to manifest in your life and come true.

I believe that anything is possible. With a little patience, hard work, and dedication, you have the ability to create positive change in your life, meet your goals/resolutions, and make your dreams come true.

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Beat Holiday Stress

Holidays are fun, but they can also be stressful. You may be dealing with visiting relatives, end-of-year work deadlines, meal planning, shopping, crowded malls, endless cleaning, needy family members, awful traffic, etc.

The good news is that some stress is good for you, because it gives you purpose, challenge, and a sense of achievement. For example, while it’s stressful to host a meal for your family, it’s nice to do something for the people you love and share a delicious meal you prepared on your own and made with love.

On the other hand, lots of stress is not so great for us. When we are stressed, our cortisol levels increase. A sudden increase in cortisol levels causes a long list of problems. For example, you are at a greater risk for having a heart attack or stroke, as well as elevated blood sugar, increased belly fat, and memory loss.

So if you know the holidays really stress you out, your goal is to find things that will help balance you and help you feel good.  

Here are some stress reducing activities to help you get through the holidays:

Exercise:

The first step towards managing your stress is to get a decent workout in every day. A good workout rejuvenates you and helps to produce endorphins, which make you calm.

For example:

  • Take a hot yoga class- get out of your head and into your body. Visit Empower Yoga!
  • Go for a run

Get a good night’s sleep:

People need a fresh start each day, but for many, a good night’s sleep is hard to come by.

  • Stick to your schedule and try not to deviates by no more than 1 hour daily (2 hours max), even over the holidays.
  • Use your bed for sleep and not work, tv, ipads, cell phones, etc.
  • When you turn out the lights to sleep, be sure to keep the bedroom dark and quiet.
  • Avoid bringing pets or children into your bed at night as they will wake you up.

Be mindful of your alcohol and caffeine intake:

If you have trouble sleeping, don’t consume more than 2 servings of caffeine during the day, and not more than 2 servings of alcohol in the evening. Extra caffeine and alcohol disrupts a good night’s sleep.

Get off your feet:

If you’ve been on your feet all day working, shopping, or socializing, quickly relieve stress by giving your feet a break. Simply elevating or lifting your feet above your heart, can help you relax and recenter.

Breathe:

If traffic is backed up, or your in laws are testing your patience, go ahead and sigh. Take a minute to breathe. This is the body’s natural response to stress.

Relax your shoulders, neck, and upper back. Then, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, letting go of any stress and/or tension you may be feeling.

Schedule some peace and calm every day:

Many people eat well and exercise, yet they don’t schedule any time in their day for peace and calm. If you don’t have a daily relaxation routine, 10 to 20 minutes of soul calming activity, in place to manage the stress in your life, it probably won’t happen on its own.

  • Make an appointment for a massage.
  • Sign up for a yoga class. If hot or athletic yoga classes are too strenuous for you, opt for a relaxation yoga class- Empower Yoga offers a Yin Yoga class as well as a Recharge class.
  • Meditate- give yourself 10 minutes to tune in and transform your negative thoughts.

Get outside and have fun!! Do something you love and enjoy a few times each week for your own health and sanity. Plan some activities that are fun for you, your family, and your close friends. When you are stressed, it’s nice to spend time with people who make you happy and who bring cheer.

As you reduce your stress, you’ll sleep better, eat more wisely, work out more, and feel better all around.

Happy Holidays!

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The days that break us, are the days that make us!

This week blog is meant to open myself and let you all in on some of the pain and struggles I have faced recently. By doing so I hope to heal a little more and maybe offer anyone having similar difficulty, the opportunity to know that they aren’t alone and that we will get through this rough spot together!

I try to take things one day at a time and it can be hard. I often think of the positive and try to find the bright side, and some days I don’t. I allow myself to feel how I feel without judgement or trying to change it.

The last several months have not been easy for me. I have had a lot of stressors that have caused sleepless nights, bouts of crying uncontrollably, as well as physical and emotional pain.

Over the last 8 months, I opened a business, trained for Ironman 70.3, took care of my dad and stepmom who were both dying of cancer, lost my stepmom last November & then my dad in July, lost my voice for several months late summer/early fall making it difficult for me to do my job (in fact I will most likely need surgery on my vocal chords), got a very bad eye infection which I can’t seem to shake, asthma attacks, heel spurs and plantar fascitis preventing me from being able to run (I had to miss out on the Marine Corp Marathon last weekend) … the list goes on and on. I have been feeling sad and depressed. I have had difficulty getting up, and wondered why things were feeling so bad.

As a result, I started questioning God, asking-  Why me? When will this get better? When will I start to heal?  When can I start to move on, get stronger, talk and teach more, go back to running, and overall when will I start to feel more like myself again?  When will all this pain go away? Because what is happening to me right now is not me. I am not this sad, depressed, whoa is me kind of person, and all I want is to feel more like myself again.

As I continued to think more about my misfortunes over the last several months, it hit me that I have dealt with difficult situations before and made it through.  The truth is, pain is a part of life. If you do not feel pain, you are not truly living. The feeling of pain is complex and confusing and can make living day to day life hard. It can consume your thoughts, and takes away the joy that you want to feel and replaces it with feelings like anger, sadness, and regret. But I believe that pain is something to help make you stronger. In order to do that, you have to accept it as being part of your journey, and use it to your advantage.

At every stage in life, just before something big and good comes, I have faced challenges that one would think there is no way out, feeling as if it’s the end of the world. Those things in my past that seemed impossible, I’ve gotten through and as a result am where I am today.

These moments, these struggles, are all phases in life, as we climb up the ladder, the weight seems to be pressing down upon us, every step takes a harder toll, but it will all pass because we grow through struggle. I try to remind myself how boring success would be if you knew you were going to succeed automatically or if it was just handed to you. The days that break us, are the days that make us. Life is about balance, you have to take the good with the bad. Even when we don’t understand the bad, we need to trust that the Universe has a plan for each and every one of us and we will eventually begin to see & understand that plan as it unfolds.  

I truly believe that the Universe will guide you to exactly where you are meant to be. Without my faith and trust in this idea, I would have never moved back to NJ and opened up my yoga studio.  

So when you feel down, and when it feels like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, just take a deep breath and know, its just a phase and it will pass.

Remember to keep trying, giving your best, persevere, and take it one day at a time…  nothing good comes easy.

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Fitness Retreat

As most of you already know, I am a fitness enthusiast.  I love to work hard, challenge myself and certainly step outside my comfort zone.  So as a yoga teacher/studio owner and a CrossFit coach, I decided to combine my two passions and take them to San Pedro, Belize for my first ever Fitness Retreat!!!

When I opened my studio in April, my goals for the year  were to build community and plan a retreat. So I did it and could not be more thrilled. I have always wanted to visit Belize and thought, well there is no time like the present. This trip is going to be epic and one you won’t want to miss.

Who’s ready for a little fun, fitness, and of course some R&R?!?!

Check out all the details below. You can also find this information on my studios website: http://empoweryoganj.com/retreatwithus/

YOGA & CROSSFIT RETREAT – BELIZE

MAY 15-20, 2018

beachfrontWe are excited to visit Belize in May 2018 for our 1st Yoga & CrossFit Retreat! You can expect this to be a very active retreat where you can get sweaty, leap out of your comfort zone, and still have time to relax! You will enjoy personalized yoga and CrossFit classes each day. Every detail will be considered so you can focus on your workouts, relaxation, and endless adventure opportunities.

This really is a trip you do not want to miss! Due to the customization of this retreat limited spaces are available for booking. Don’t wait to reserve your spot! There is no better time than now!

YOGA

unnamed-3Yoga will be offered to the entire group each day to allow for recovery from the day’s activity. Each yoga class will be customized for active recovery. Classes will be taught for all levels. Instructors will provide modifications for beginning yogis and also opportunities for advanced practitioners to grow their practice. Even if you have never practiced yoga, you will find these sessions energizing and empowering!

If you have a yoga mat, please bring it!!

CROSSFIT

unnamed-1Empower Yoga has partnered with CrossFit Wolf for daily CrossFit training, and beach workouts/WODs! During the classes, the coaches at CrossFit Wolf will be their to guide and support you, offering modifications as need to allow all levels to be successful. No CrossFit experience is required. Get ready to sweat and have fun!

ACCOMODATIONS

pool 3We are excited to offer 5 nights accommodations in the SunBreeze Hotel. The SunBreeze Hotel is situated in the laid back beach town of San Pedro, on the popular Ambergris Caye. Out the front door, the festive streets of town welcome you to join in the fun, and out our back door, you are just a few steps from the Caribbean Sea and the largest Barrier Reef in the Western Hemisphere. During your stay you will enjoy access to the beach, the use of the beautiful lounging pool, spacious sofa lounge, hammock gazebo, beach front dining, relaxing and rejuvenating spa, and free wifi in common areas.

Room accommodations are booked on a first come, first serve basis. The bedroom configurations include a premium room with a King bed, a premium room with a queen and double bed, standard room with two double beds, or a standard room with Queen bed.

*Please provide your preferred room type(s) at the time of booking, as well as preferred roommate if applicable.

ADVENTURE TOURS

In addition to daily yoga & CrossFit, we are excited to offer optional adventure tours each day. These adventures include but aren’t limited to kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, stand-up paddleboard, biking, and scuba diving.

TRAVEL

Once you have secured your spot at the retreat, we can help answer any questions you have regarding airfare.

Please note- guests should book flights to and from Belize City, Belize. Flights should arrive on May 15th before 4pm and depart on May 20th no earlier than 10:30am. Air transportation from Belize City to San Pedro will be included for all retreat guests. Upon arrival to Belize City guests will go through customs, claim baggage and proceed to connecting flights. Guests will then fly from Belize City to San Pedro. Upon arrival to San Pedro it is a very short, less than 5 min. walk to the Sunbreeze Hotel.

Price Includes:

Lodging, transportation from Belize City to San Pedro, daily yoga, daily CrossFit, welcome dinner, closing dinner, daily breakfast, daily maid service, transportation to and from CrossFit Wolf.

Price Does Not Include:

Airfare, alcoholic or specialty beverages, off site meals, additional activities/tours, and spa treatments.

Plan Ahead Pricing – October 13,  2017 – December 31, 2017

*Retreat rates are per person.

Standard Room Double- $2000/person

Standard Room Single- $2350/person

Premier Room Double- $2150/person

Premier Room Single- $2575/person

Have 3 people? Get a Premium Double room for $1900/person or a Standard Double room for $1800/person.

Standard Retreat Pricing – January 1, 2018

*Retreat rates are per person.

Standard Room Double- $2100/person

Standard Room Single- $2450/person

Premier Room Double- $2250/person

Premier Room Single- $2675/person

Have 3 people? Get a Premium Double room for $2000/person or a Standard Double room for $1900/person.

*Please provide your preferred bed type and roommate (if applicable) at the time of booking. Each room will be booked on a first come first serve basis.

Terms and Conditions:

To sign up for this retreat, a non-refundable and non-transferable US $500 deposit is required. Your deposit is applied toward your retreat rate. Full payment is due no later than March 1, 2018.

Plan Ahead Prices apply when your deposit is received between October 13, 2017 – December 31, 2017. Standard Retreat Prices apply when your deposit is received after January 1, 2018.

Should you need to cancel your reservation prior to March 1, 2018, you will receive a refund for payment made, minus the $500 deposit. Should you need to cancel after March 1, 2018, for whatever reason, we will not be able to provide you a refund or credit. Sign ups with full payment are welcome after March 1, 2018 as space allows.

You can purchase trip insurance for yourself through Allianz.

QUESTIONS?

Please contact Keri at the studio or email her at keri@empoweryoganj.com.

I hope you’ll join us!!

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IMAC RECAP

A few weekends ago, I ticked my first IRONMAN 70.3 race off the list. Crossing the finish line in Atlantic City, New Jersey was amazing. I am incredibly proud of myself and pleased as to how I performed during the race.

Nestled between the fast, dynamic Olympic-distance races and the revered IRONMAN, the 70.3 occupies a unique place on the distance spectrum. It’s definitely a race worthy of respect and a feet to tackle, but it’s certainly doable.  

RACE RECAP:

The Ironman Village was great. They offered fun entertainment, lots of cool swag to purchase, and great vendors. Packet pickup was easy, and the volunteers were incredible. Race day was the same. Things appeared to be well organized and all the details taken care off. We were slow to start the swim, but the 6 person every 10 seconds into the water seemed to really pace us out well and prevented people from swimming over one another, which I really appreciated, because that scares the sh*t out of me.

I was terrified at first about getting in the water, but one of the volunteers looked at me & said- do it for someone who’s not here today and can’t do it. Well I immediately started to cry because it made me think of my dad- I decided to do it for him. Thank god my husband was standing by the start too as this happened because he gave me one final kiss and hug and reassured me I’d be great. When I got into the water I knew dad was there. It was a great swim. There wasn’t any real current, things were clearly marked, and there was a lot of support in the water if needed. I felt good and truly enjoyed the swim. I got out in 42.33 (2:12 min/100m)

Coming out of the water was easy, the wetsuit peelers were fast and efficient. They certainly helped lessen transition times.

As I got on the bike, we headed out toward the AC Expressway. They closed off one lane. They informed us it was a closed course, so I expected the entire Expressway to be closed. But one lane seemed sufficient enough. It did become a little scarey when large trucks and buses came zooming by and your bike would shake.  Part of the course was also on some back roads. These roads were not well paved and very bumpy. They also had large potholes and broken glass you needed to maneuver around to avoid, so not so easy at times.  The course was 2.5 loops and at least after the first loop, you remembered where the rough parts of the road were. Unfortunately, lots of people got flats and were pulled over along the side of the road. I was very happy that wasn’t me. The highlight was riding towards AC and seeing the skyline. I completed the bike course in 3:13 with an average of about 18 mph.

The run course took place on the boardwalk. It is pretty tough to run on a boardwalk. There were lots of loose boards and nails that stuck up. However, the crowds were fun, there were aid stations every two miles, and the music throughout helped you to keep moving.  I felt ok on the run minus the large blisters that developed on the pads of my feet. The first few miles were fast and great (averaging about 8:30) but then my feet started to hurt so bad that I basically ran with my toes curled to protect the blisters from hitting the ground each time. I stopped and walked through every aid station to give my toes a break and to refuel. Overall, it was uncomfortable and made the run seem longer than it would have been, but I got through it. This has never happened to before, so I’ll have to do some research as how to avoid it for the next one. I completed the run in 2:16. Which is about 10:30 per mile.

Best part of the race was running down the shoot and crossing the finish line. It was pretty exciting and emotional. What a huge accomplishment. I have a lot to be proud of and a lot to be grateful for. For starters, this body who works so hard and does so much for me, my husband who appreciates and encourages my crazy side, my family, and of course my friends who are always there to listen or run/swim/bike countless miles with me… for all that I am extremely grateful.

Total finish time: 6:19:47

WHY RACE IM 70.3?

  • The IRONMAN 70.3 is a challenging step up from shorter-distance races (sprints and Olympic/international) to “test” yourself at a longer, more endurance-focused event. Once you complete one, you’ll know whether you’re hooked like I am or whether you prefer shorter events.    
  • In about 10 hours a week, you can become fit enough to complete a 70.3.
  • Many people’s first IRONMAN goal is simply to finish. For more seasoned triathletes, the IRONMAN 70.3 distance offers the chance to focus more on performance (qualifying, setting PR’s, etc) than just getting across the finish line.
  • IRONMAN 70.3 events are spectator-friendly and offer lots of pre race & race-day fun.
  • Great volunteers and spectators!! The volunteers help ensure a smooth race and keep you hydrated while spectators cheer you on and offer words of support and encouragement along the way to help keep you motivated and moving forward.
  • The race is often completed in about 5-7 hours, leaving the afternoon and evening open for celebration and unwinding.
  • As a destination race, it’s a great way to sightsee and explore new cities!
  • There are a huge variety of races to choose from and most are easily accessible.

YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, YOU NEED TO JUST BELIEVE:

I had a great race and a lot of fun. I even exceeded my own expectations of myself. Being new at this and not sure how I was going to feel, my goal was to finish around 6:30 and I finished in 6:19. I’m super happy about that. It was great and I got to learn a lot about myself. I had a lot of thinking to do over the course of 6 hours with no music and no one to talk to- Probably the quietest I have ever been lol (well actually 2nd to the time I had laryngitis for weeks). I learned that I really don’t need music to swim/bike/run and I was happy with my own thoughts and really got to live in the moment. I also learned that we should never doubt ourselves because we can truly do anything we put our minds to, I’m proof of that. Imagine, I started training for triathlons a few years ago as a way to force myself to learn how to swim and now almost 3 years later, I not only can swim, but I can swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles after. I can’t wait to do it again. Most people think I’m crazy, but I’m a dreamer and a doer and I refuse to let anything get in my way. Never stop goal setting & goal crushing!

Now onto my next 70.3, Eagleman in June and 140.6 Lake Placid in July! Let the training begin 🙂

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Finding Peace

At the moment, my life feels turned upside down. A few stressors have been my dad’s death and getting sick. Not only am I suffering from TMJ, but I also have polyps on my vocal cords and am having difficulty speaking.

I miss my dad tremendously and when I want to talk or cry, I can’t because it hurts my throat. Now not talking wouldn’t be so bad if my whole life- my job and identify- didn’t revolve around being able to speak. I can’t coach or teach, and I’m scared to do permanent damage and not get my voice back. So I’ve been feeling a huge range of emotions, from sadness and depression to anger and rage to despondency and helplessness. On top of my personal challenges, I don’t dare turn on on the TV because the chaos, greed, death, and destruction on the news makes me feel worse and more hopeless.

However, I believe (or at least am trying to) that we can transform our challenging situations into one of inner and outer peace. Everyday we wake up, we have a choice. A choice to feel hope, peace, happiness, and look for the good in the world, rather than choosing to feel sad, depressed, etc…

When things happen and issues or challenges become revealed, we have an opportunity to face them and then to choose another path. No more gloom and doom. This could be the sign we’ve been waiting for to make changes in our life for the better. Or in my case maybe a reminder to slow down and allow myself to take a break for a while rather than always going and pushing myself.  We need to begin to understand that the outer chaos we experience merely represents our mental state.  So if we can calm & quiet what’s happening inside, then what’s happening outside will quiet too and hopefully we can find some peace.

Being able to keep the peace can be hard.  I have a very hard time when things don’t go according to my plan. If you’re like me, when situations arise, I want to “fix” it immediately. I’ll spend sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do. Now certain things, like my dad dieing is unfixable and will take time for me to heal emotionally. Not being able to speak can’t just be fixed right away either, and will take time to physically heal. These unpredictable circumstances happen on the regular and are beyond our control; so we need to come up with ways to help ourselves when we feel off balance or out of control.

So how can we do this? These ideas may help:

Thoughts have power:

Begin to visualize good things. When you’re feeling chaotic, try to calm the mind, think good thoughts, and envision the outcome you’d like to see. Start imagining yourself happy, healthy, safe, and loved. Hold onto those good vibes.

Words have power:

Train your subconscious brain to have a different belief system. Wishful thinking doesn’t help, but repeated helpful affirmations or mantras do. Mantras when repeated many times throughout the day start to become your inner truth and will help change your subconscious mind.

Some examples of my favorite mantras include: I am enough, It’s a great day to be alive, & you are the sky, everything else is the weather.  Always remember, words have power.

Feelings have power:

In order for us to transcend our situation and create more peace in our lives, we have got to feel it and the best way to do that is have faith. Having faith means that everything will be ok.  

To have faith, we must believe with conviction that everything will be okay, even if we can’t currently see exactly how.

Action is power:

Keep your eyes and heart focused on how you can add value to the world each day.

Think about your life’s purpose, why are you here?  Think about the gift you have to offer the world. In moments of chaos, remember your purpose and stick with it. What you do is part of you, so trust it, it’s who and what you are. When I know I have helped someone for the better and contributed value to the world each day, I feel centered, grounded, and at ease. Action is power.

Meditate for 10 to 20 Minutes per day:

Meditating can be done is so many ways. I highly recommend guided meditations to start. But even sitting in nature or focusing on peace or doing deep breathing helps ground you tremendously so that you feel calmer and less stressed, which in turn has a positive effect on those around you. Meditation can be powerful. Checkout a previous blog of mine to learn more: http://yogaswole.com/meditation/

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WORKING OUT ON THE ROAD

Do you find it hard to workout when you travel? If you’re like me, you don’t do well with changes to your routine or schedule and when you don’t have the equipment you normally use to workout with.

So when I go away, I first try to be very proactive and planful, thinking about what my routine will look like while I am gone. I first try to figure out what I can bring with me and also what facilities will be available- i.e is there a gym where I’ll be staying, can I safely run outside, is there a Crossfit nearby that I can drop into, can I take a yoga class, etc…

If I think some of these aren’t available, fitting in my normal workouts may be a challenge, so I do my best to go into the trip with an open mind. I’ll do what I can & I try to look at it as a way to breathe some new life into my routine and do something different. Sometimes, being limited in the time you have and the equipment available can be a good thing because it forces you to be more creative with your workouts or spend more time on some much needed rest and relaxation.

GETTING READY TO GO:

THINK: What can I take with me?

Packing your dumbbells obviously isn’t the best idea, but if you don’t have a clue whether your hotel has a decent exercise room, there are some alternatives:

Resistance Bands:

Resistance bands can be a great traveling companion. You can use bands to target every muscle in the body and since you have tension throughout the entire movement, you’ll really feel the burn. They are also easy to stuff into your suitcase without taking up much space. Great for when you’re at home, at work, or away in your hotel room. You can find them a variety of bands and tubes on Amazon, other retailers, and even local sporting goods store. Most bands come with a list of exercises you can do with them.

For other ideas, you can visit:

https://greatist.com/fitness/resistance-band-exercises

or

http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/total-body-sculpting-resistance-band-workout

Jump rope:

Jumping rope is a great exercise for your heart and body, and will really help you burn calories. Take the opportunity to practice your jump roping skills and maybe even double unders!

A yoga mat:

I have found some interesting and often beautiful spaces to practice in while on vacation. I have unrolled my mat at the airport and found a comfortable seat or lying position and meditated, or some light stretches in between flights to help with stiffness and circulation.  If you’re in a hotel, can you rearrange the furniture to create a little yoga nook? You can download music to your phone to help create the right ambiance for you. Find yourself in tight quarters? Take your mat outside onto the porch, grass or the beach. Complete some sun salutations, warrior I & II sequences, allowing your body to move, flow, and stretch.

What can you do without equipment?

Swimming:

Swimming is a great cardio exercise and it targets every muscle of your body. If you’re at a hotel with a pool, swim laps or try pool running.

If you’re at the beach, the ocean offers even more opportunities for exercising while having fun – surfing, paddle boarding, boogie boarding, riding the waves- all are great for burning calories and staying active.

Walking and/or Running:

Walking and running are great ways to explore a new location. You don’t need much more than a good pair of shoes to get a great cardio workout in for the day. Plus, if you’re at the beach, you’ll get even more out of your walks/runs by using the sand to your advantage. Walking or running in soft sand is much harder than walking on pavement. Note- if you’re going for a longer duration run/walk, wear shoes rather than being barefoot because it could cause shin or calf pain. Get up early and watch the sunrise over the horizon. I can’t think of a better way to start my day!

Want to run on pavement but aren’t comfortable in a new location? Try finding a few local running clubs you can link up with to run or who can suggest safe routes for you. I have found some local groups on FB and messaged them prior to traveling.  

Ways to workout out as your travel:

Airports:

Getting stuck in an airport with long layovers or plane delays is no fun, but you can take advantage by getting in a little exercise.

Your best bet is to walk the airport, avoid the escalators & take the stairs, and keep your arms going and your posture straight. If you have a ton of carry-on luggage, find a locker and stash it there or take it with you to add some weight to your walk. Or as I said before, unroll your yoga mat. Some airports even have quiet meditations rooms you can practice in or gyms you can take advantage of. Most charge anywhere from $10 to $20 for the day.

On the Plane:

Is there anything more uncomfortable than the seats on an airplane? You can combat a stiff neck and back by getting up every 30-60 minutes or so and walking the length of the plane. While you’re up, get the kinks out by lacing your fingers together and stretching from side to side or stretching them up over head (micro backbend) and then in front of you while gently rounding your spine (like a standing cat/cow pose). While seated, stretch your neck, arms and legs too. Anything you can do to keep the circulation going will help reduce some of the aches, pains, and bloating.

Hotels:

Many hotels have exercise rooms but, if they don’t, they might have an affiliation with a local gym for a small fee. Ask the hotel manager about local health clubs and about any parks or trails close by.

I like to google and find local gyms before I go. I’ll reach out about a drop in classes or ask about special rates, especially if I’ll be going for or a week. My favorite thing to do when I travel is find a cool new Crossfit affiliate or “Box” to go to!

Don’t want to go or pay for a gym? Google travel WOD (Workout Of the Day). You will find several full body, no equipment needed workouts you can do anywhere, any time.

For me to be most successful and able to workout when I travel, I think it helps to do a little research before you go, so you’re  prepared when you get there.

Other ways to stay healthy:

Eating:

Traveling can throw a wrench into your healthy eating. From the questionable airplane food to the quick food at the airport (pizza, burgers, fries, ice cream etc.) it’s easy to get off course. Then you have the temptation of new and exciting restaurants to try while you’re at your destination. Try to bring easy, packable snacks for the plane (fruit, granola bars, trail mix, etc.) and, when eating out, try to make at least one healthy choice each day.

Whatever your destination, a little advance planning can ensure that you stay on track with your exercise program. Be active, get out and explore, eat healthy, and most importantly have fun.

 

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Family Vacation: Hawaiian Style

ALOHA!!!!

I have been in Hawaii with my family over the last two weeks and took the opportunity to relax, unwind, and unplug. Sorry that I haven’t written in a while, but I’m back and am looking forward to sharing my travels with you!  

What a fabulous 12 days we had exploring and cruising Hawaii.  Over the course of my trip, I got to visit and explore Honolulu, Maui, The Big Island (Hilo & Kona), and Kauai.  With 10 of us traveling, cruising was definitely an easy and convenient way to explore all that the Hawaiian Islands have to offer. Our trip was certainly filled with lots of fun, adventure, and family bonding. For this week’s blog, I thought I’d recap my trip and highlight some of the fun things I did while away.  I would also like to take this opportunity to give a special shoutout to my mom, Judy. Without her, this trip would not be possible. I have the best mom!!

Planning a trip to Hawaii? Here are some things you may want to know before you go!

MY FAMILY VACATION:

We visited the Hawaiian Islands via cruise ship. We cruised on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s- Pride of America.  It was an older vessel, but was recently updated and seemed to be well maintained! The ship had lots of amenities and accommodating staff that were happy to help provide you with anything you needed to make your trip the best it could be.

I booked this trip from a great friend and former colleague of mine, Heather Hamed.  Heather and her husband own American Discount Cruise and Travel. I highly recommend this company to help with your next vacation and am not just saying that because she’s a close friend. We have booked several trips through them and I have not been disappointed.  The staff at ADCT is highly knowledgeable and can help find you the best trip to meet your needs and budget.  They do it all; from helping to not only book the cruise, but they can support you with air travel, transfers, sightseeing recommendations, travel tips, and much more! Be sure to check them out at: www.americandiscountcruises.com/index.html

CRUISE HIGHLIGHTS:

There was lots to do or not do. You could relax and lay by the pool, sunbathe, sit in the ship’s library, relax in the observatory, play video games, see shows, participate in daily games and activities (i.e. wine tasting, beer tastings, hula dancing, lei making class, dance parties, pool volleyball, magic shows, etc…), get a massage, visit the salon (i.e. hair, nails etc…), or go to the gym. I certainly had a lot of fun laying on the deck or in the gym!!

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS:

OAHU:
Prior to setting sale, we spent 3 nights at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort in Oahu. This hotel was only steps from the famous Waikiki Beach and very close to Diamond Head Crater.

marriottOahu is often referred to as “The Gathering Place”, Oahu is the third largest Hawaiian island and home to the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population- a fusion of east and west cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people. Oahu is a fun place to visit and explore.

Highlights:

Honolulu has a lot to offer and a ton of places to visit. Having been to Hawaii before I opted out of some of the more traditional/popular excursions that my family did- i.e. Visiting Pearl Harbor & the USS Arizona Memorial, Dole Plantation, and Jurassic Valley at Kualoa.  

Instead, I spent the three days running along the coast and Diamond Head Crater, renting city bikes and exploring the city, shopping on Kalakaua Avenue, drinking delicious smoothies from Lanikai Juice, taking a challenging yet fun paddle board yoga class at Yoga Floats, and visiting CrossFit Oahu. It was perfect!!

MAUI:

After 3 days in Oahu, we boarded the Pride of America and traveled to Maui.

Maui is known as the “Valley Isle,” and is dotted with quaint towns and artist communities. Maui offers shimmering beaches, tons of waterfalls and hiking trails, and incredible sunrises from the top of Haleakala.

Highlights:

Maui beaches: Maui has more than 80 incredible beaches with a combined shoreline that spans 120 miles.

Maui Waterfall and Rainforest Hike: Experience authentic Maui and adventure with it’s lush rainforests and stunning waterfalls.

Haleakala National Park: Watch a memorable sunrise from 9,740 feet atop Haleakala Crater.

Road to Hana: With 600 curves and 54 bridges, this is one of the world’s most scenic drives.

My favorite part was swimming in the waterfalls near Haiku and watching the sunrise from the top of the world before biking 26 miles down Haleakala.

THE “BIG ISLAND”:

After two days in Maui we headed to the “Big Island”- spent 1 day in Hilo and 1 day in Kona.

IMG_5202To avoid confusion with the name of the entire state, the Island of Hawaii is often called the “Big Island,” because it is nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. The Big Island is not only the largest, but also the the youngest in Hawaii’s chain of islands. Whether you’re visiting Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the worldnight lava (you can actually see it flowing into the ocean- we watched it from the cruise ship!!), visiting local shops, or walking on a black sand beach, snorkeling, or sailing along the Kona Coast; The Big Island, is filled with lots of adventures.

Hilo Highlights:

While there, my husband and I decided to walk around and explore what Hilo had to offer. We visited:

Hilo Farmers Market:The Hilo Farmers Market is one of the best open markets in Hawaii, featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, plants and local crafts.

Downtown Hilo, Hawaii Island: Downtown Hilo is Hawaii Island’s biggest small town featuring century old wooden storefronts, galleries, shops, and restaurants. The local juice and coffee shops are something you don’t want to miss!


Kona Highlights:

While visiting Kona we decided to take a much needed beach day. Once we docked, we took a tender to Kailua Kona beach. The weather was dry and sunny and the white sand beaches were perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, going on an outrigger, and swimming. Visit Kona Boys for all of your beach day needs!!

KAUAI:

We spent the last two days of our cruising adventure in Kauai. I truly believe we saved the best for last. If it were up to me, I would have spent an entire week here.

Kauai is Hawaii’s fourth largest island and is sometimes called the “Garden Isle,” which is an entirely accurate description. The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain is draped in emerald valleys and jagged cliffs. Tropical rainforests, forking rivers and cascading waterfalls have developed over the last hundreds of years. Kauai only has one road that is 18 miles long, so the majority of the island is preserved land and is only accessible by sea or air, revealing views beyond your imagination. We had the opportunity to take in some of the sights along the Napali Coast as we traveled around the island on the ship. It was incredible.

Highlights:

Visiting Kalapaki Bay Beach and going into the quaint shops.

Walking through the Fern Grotto where Elvis was married.

Exploring a 30-acre botanical and cultural garden.

Experiencing a true hawaiian luau at the Smith’s Family Luau.

Between the wonderful landscape of the islands, fun activities for the whole family, and welcoming attitude of the Hawaiian people; Hawaii is a wonderful place to visit. My trip to Hawaii was certainly filled with lots of fun and adventure. Together my family and I created memories that will last a lifetime. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go back. Hawaii is a beautiful, magical place and worth a visit!! 

A Hui Hou Kākou (Until We Meet Again)

 

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