How can we expect to be “good” if we don’t practice?

The other night I took a yoga class for the first time in probably 6-12 months. Between teaching a lot, hot summer weather and preferring to spend my “free” time lifting weights, yoga just never made it into my weekly routine. No big deal – things happen! However, whenever I come back from a yoga hiatus, I am quickly reminded why it’s so important, and always end up asking myself the same question: “why don’t I make this a more regular thing?”. I know it’s an important part of my physical training (hello, flexibility, mobility and stretching my tight muscles!), but even more than that, it’s an important thing for me mentally. I run around all week between work, training clients, teaching, trying to blog, trying to hang with friends and have date nights with my hubby, that I end up leaving little to no “down” or quiet time. No time for just me. And yoga the other night reminded me why this is so important.

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Having that one hour to breath, stretch, move and take the time to actually listen to how my body feels was a HUGE reminder as to why this is something that I need to make part of my regular routine. I noticed how tight my shoulders were. I noticed that my right hip flexor was tight and bothering me. But most of all, I noticed that I had a REALLY HARD time quieting my mind. I was thinking about what the strength workout was that I was missing. I was convincing myself that yoga was the right choice for me that night. I was thinking about the trip to Telluride we just booked. I was thinking about said tight shoulders and hip flexors. I was thinking about what I would have for dinner.

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Initially, this bothered me. Why couldn’t I just quiet my mind and focus on breathing? Why did everything feel so hard? But then I had one of those “ah-ha” moments…  How could I expect to jump right back into my practice where I was when I last did yoga consistently if I hadn’t been to yoga in going on a year? I couldn’t. So I accepted where I was and made a promise to myself to go more often. To practice. Just like I tell my clients and fighters when they get frustrated because they aren’t “good” at something or because something feels “hard”. I always say to them “you can’t expect to be “good” at something or have it come easily to you if you don’t practice.”, which is true!

These days, we all want the easy access (guilty as charged!). We want quick results and we don’t want to have to work hard. Sorry to tell ya, friends, that’s not how life works. We have to work (and oftentimes, work hard) for what we want and for things to be “easy”.  We have to practice. We have to train.

My client the other day said to me “ugh you made that look so much easier than it is”, and my response? “that’s because I practice it. I worked through the exercise and trained myself to get better at it.”.

And this applies to all areas of our lives. You can’t expect a promotion at work if you don’t put in the work. You can’t expect to run faster if you don’t train. You can’t expect to get stronger if you don’t lift weights. You can’t expect to lose weight if you don’t make changes to your diet or workout routine. You can’t expect to get more “likes” or “followers” if you never post things. Catch my drift?

So, even though my yoga experience earlier this week wasn’t entirely what I wanted or expected, it caused me to self-reflect and give myself a little self-check, which I SO appreciate. I can’t wait to make yoga a more consistent aspect of my training.

Questions for you: Do you tend to be impatient when it comes to wanting change or something to happen? Do you want to rush through the in between steps to get to the end? Do you like yoga or do you have a hard time settling your mind?

 

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Weekend Eats & Drinks

Good morning! Our weekend was relatively low-key, but it was filled with some good eats, drinks and restaurant visits so I figured that was worth sharing- enjoy!

Friday

My company always does pizza lunches before big sport games, so last Friday was no exception. I haven’t been in the office to reap the benefits of any of the recent pizza luncheons so it was a nice treat for me this past Friday! I always take a whole plate of salad (if available) and start with that because it ensures I get in some veggies and it helps to subside most of my initial hunger before inhaling 3 pieces of pizza and then feeling sick from stuffing my face with too much pizza!

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I had some gift cards to use at Hopsters so we went there for pizza, salad and drinks for dinner… you know it’s a good day when you have pizza for lunch AND dinner! We got the sausage and arugula pizza and the beet and goat cheese salad- both were fantastic!

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Saturday

After an incredibly hard yoga sculpt class at CorePower (no seriously, it was so hard!!), I met up with my sister and friend Jessi at Loco in Southie for lunch to chat about my bachelorette party. While the margaritas were awesome, I picked the wrong food entrée. The waitress suggested the burrito so I took her suggestion, but it had too many big potatoes and not enough meat… not to mention it was served WITH potatoes. Thankfully my sister shared some of her burger with me which was really good. We ran into one of my friends from work which was such a fun addition to the lunch!

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For dinner, we decided to make some quesadillas. I kept it basic with just peppers and onions and leftover coconut crusted chicken. They were SO good and successfully kicked my Mexican craving that was not satisfied at lunch.

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Oh, and bubbly. Snowy nights most definitely call for bubbly… but then again, I’m not sure what nights DON’T call for bubbly 😉

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Side Note: We finally started to watch Breaking Bad- have any of you watched that show? So far it’s a little intense for my liking, but I’m giving it a shot! We are only 4 episodes in.

Sunday

In traditional Sunday morning fashion, I whipped us up some healthy pancakes first thing. It was another great batch and we think it’s almost time for me to perfect the recipe and share it with all of you! I added raspberries to some of mine and it was a very tasty addition.

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We ended up having RM’s brother and sister-in-law over for the game so I set out some healthy-ish snack food while we waited for the wings to cook. We made two kinds: baked buffalo and then slow cooker honey garlic and I have to say, the buffalo stole the show for most of us! I also made some chocolate chip banana bread bars which were a big hit.

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And that about does it! I hope you all have a great week- and be on the lookout for some exciting news that I’m sharing on Friday!

Questions for you: Where is your favorite pizza place? Did you go out to eat at all this weekend? Where do you go for Mexican food? What did you do for the game?

Things I Learned from Taking 4 Yoga Classes in 6 Days

A few weeks ago, I was feeling a little off all day and decided I didn’t want to go to the gym for my normal weight and cardio type of workout. I felt like I needed something, but something more along the lines of yoga, which is something that sadly gets neglected far too often in my training schedule. Luckily, there are 2 yoga studios within a short walk from my apartment, so I was able to satisfy my need/want for yoga. I opted to go to CorePower Yoga in Newton Corner since they give new students and ENTIRE WEEK for FREE! How cool is that?! With classes running you $23 a pop, getting the chance to even get one for free is a treat.

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In typical Monique fashion, I decided that I should make the best of the free week and get to as many classes as possible, which ended up being 4 since we were away over the weekend. My first class was a little rough. My bad shoulder was bothered by a lot of the moves (I realized later probably because I wasn’t used to moving it that much), my mind just couldn’t slow down and I was too focused on remembering how to get my body the way it was supposed to be rather than really soaingk in the aspects of yoga I needed: calmness, breathing & slowing down my mind. I also wasn’t a fan of the instructor as there seemed to be no flow to what he was having us do and I think I can settle into my practice the most when we are flowing through sequences and focusing on our breathing.

My second class was the Yoga Sculpt, which wasn’t really what I wanted for that particular day (a Sunday late afternoon when I was already sore), but it ended up being a really great class. I love that it incorporated yoga AND weights AND cardio all in one class- totally my style and the instructor, Angela, was great! It was a small class, but she kept the energy high and pushed us through some challenging sequences. I also felt like I was able to get into my groove better and leave more thoughts outside of my mat. This is a great class for people who think they don’t like yoga or that it’s not a good enough workout (even though it is a workout if you want it to be!).

My third class was the 6pm CorePower Yoga 2 with Carrie, which was really great! It was challenging and there were some good flows and by the end I was a sweaty, sweaty mess & felt totally noodle-y. I even surprised myself with rocking out a challenging arm balance, which felt way easier than it used to feel when I practiced yoga regularly.

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The body is an amazing thing. Up until last Thursday, I hadn't practiced yoga in an embarrassingly long time. 🙏🙏🙏 There was always something I'd rather do, even though I know I would've benefited from yoga more than anything on some days. # My first day back was rough. I felt rusty and inflexible and my mind couldn't slow down for a second. # My second time was better- I was flowing more smoothly, breathing was better and My mind wasn't racing so much. # Today was my 3rd time and it felt amazing! Great flows, great breaths and then I totally surprised myself with this arm balance. I used to be able to do it back in the days when I practiced yoga a lot, but I remember that it was a challenging for me . Today, though? I was shocked by how easy it felt. Clearly it wasn't from practice, but I have to attribute it to my consistency with my strength training over the years. Consistency does pay off and I gotta say- it was pretty damn empowering to do this! So next time you take an extended break from working out or practicing yoga, remember it takes a bit to get back to where you were before you took that break. You have to start slow and be easy on yourself, but if you keep at it, you'll get back to where you were soon enough. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing! #yoga #yogaeeverydamnday #corepoweryoga #armbalance #challengeyourself #consistency #selflove #selfappreciation #onestepatatime #keepgoing #namaste #ffcheckin #fitfluential #motivation

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My fourth and last class may have been the best. My body felt so much more flexible, my mind was quiet, my breathing matched every move and my shoulder wasn’t bothering me anymore. Emily G taught the 6pm CorePower Yoga 2 and she challenged us by having us go through a 10 minute flow! By the end, I was exhausted, but felt really good. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to yoga since I was feeling a little off so I told myself I would take it easy. Once I got on my mat and slowed my breathing, everything felt better and I left so happy that I went.

My whole yoga experience at CorePower Yoga last week taught me/reminded me about a few things:

1. Muscle Memory is a fantastic thing. Even though my first few classes were a little rough due to the fact that I hadn’t practiced yoga in MONTHS, once I got back into the flow (literally) of things, my body remembered how to do the things that I hadn’t done in so long. I was able to relax into child pose and pigeon pose and I remembered what the various sun salutations were and how the breathing aligned with each movement.

2. Strength training helps in so many aspects of your life.
Although I hadn’t practiced yoga in a while, thanks to regularly lifting weights, my body felt strong in all of the poses I tried- from chaturanga to forearm balances to standing balancing poses, everything felt easier than it did when I was practicing yoga regularly.

3. Practice makes you better, but some days you may not be where you were the day before and I love that yoga encourages us to acknowledge an accept this. It’s so easy for me to get hung up on always trying to be better than I was the day before, but that’s just not how life works. Some days I can whip out 4-5 chin ups and some days it’s hard to do 1. Some days I can run 5 miles and feel amazing and sometimes 3 is a real struggle. Life is always going to ebb and flow and have ups and downs and yoga is a good reminder that that’s all part of life!

4. Breathing helps. A lot. Whatever it is- whether a holding a challenging pose, finishing that last rep or handling a rough situation or argument, breathing through it will always help you get through it.

The sad part about yoga is how expensive it is, so I need to be on the lookout for some deals because I KNOW how good it is for me to try and practice fairly regularly. The way I feel when I leave yoga is a totally different feeling than when I leave the gym after a cardio/strength training session, which is why I need to make it a priority to fit both types of workouts into my workout schedule. I can see the calmness and peacefulness of yoga really coming in handy leading up to my wedding 😉

Questions for you: Do you practice yoga? Where do you practice it? What do you look for in a yoga class? What have you learned about yourself from a workout (lifting, yoga, running, etc.)?

If you’re looking for a flow you can do at home, check out this post: Strong & Lean Yogamomto Yoga Sequence

Weekending: Wedding Update Edition

Good morning! How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? I was loving the great fall weather. Know what else I was loving? BOOKING A VENUE AND A DATE!!! If you’ve been following B2B for a while, you already know that wedding planning thus far has been stressful. Being on a budget, having no idea what I want and having a busy schedule anyway has made the whole process just not that fun. BUT, now that we have a venue and a date I already feel a million times better. Before we get to that, let’s chat about the rest of the weekend, too.

After work on Friday, I met up with my sister at Hopsters in Newton Corner. This place is literally walking distance from my apartment and they sell lots of craft beers and delicious looking charcuterie boards and flatbread pizzas. On top of that, you can even make your own beer there, which sounds like a fun activity even for someone like me who isn’t a big beer person.

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The purpose for our meetup was so that I could finally officially ask her to be my Maid of Honor! I scoured Etsy for a while until I found this bracelet, which had my sisters name all over it (literally and figuratively!)- she loves bracelets and monogramed items so this couldn’t have been more perfect. Luckily, she agreed 🙂

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When I got home, RM and I made a nice healthy fish dinner, thanks to my mom’s friend Jean’s husband who caught the fish!

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A little while after dinner, it was snack time. Yes, we have a snack time every night- it’s my favorite! We always try to have healthy snacks like paleo banana bread muffins or toast or something else that’s not loaded with tons of sugar. On Friday, RM toasted up some Ezekiel bread, topped it with almond butter and my mom’s homemade blueberry jam, bananas, cinnamon and ground flax seed. Delicious!

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After teaching on Saturday, I rushed home to shower and hit the road to head up to Jackson, NH to look at The Wentworth Inn as a possible wedding venue.

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I had spoken with Kim, the fantastic wedding planner, a few times leading up to our visit and was totally in love with the venue before even seeing it in person! It was affordable, included a lot of things in the package that most other places didn’t include (90 minutes of full open bar at the cocktail hour?! yes, please!) and seemed like a great mini destination place since it’s just 10 minutes north of North Conway. I also loved that everyone could stay on site, which eliminated the need for us to need to book buses or vans or some other type of transportation. And, they source all of their food locally, from 15 nearby farms, to be exact, and they said nothing is ever frozen. For foodies like us, we loved the sounds of that!

After a tour and long discussion with Kim, we were pretty sure we were going to book our wedding at The Wentworth… on the 4th of July! They were giving a phenomenal discount to have the wedding on that day, one that was just too good to pass up, so we are going to be getting married on July 4th, 2016! We are hoping it doesn’t throw a wrench into people’s normal 4th of July plans, but since the holiday is on a Monday, we hope that people can do celebrating on Saturday and Sunday and be with us on Monday-  I promise it will be a good party!

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After our tour, we decided to walk to the Wildcat Tavern for a late afternoon snack and drink since we didn’t have lunch. The trio dip platter was a fantastic option and their wine selection was incredible! Ashley- they had La Crema by the glass 🙂

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When we got back to our room, RM laughed and said we apparently didn’t need to get a snack. Curious, I went over to see what he was looking at and was so surprised by the super sweet gesture that Kim had done by sending us a nice card and a cheese platter.

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It’s little things like this that really go a long way with potential clients- we appreciated it so much!

After resting for a bit, we went down to the hotel bar to have some dinner. They have a full restaurant, but we prefer the bar atmosphere. The food was unbelievable- I got the lamb stew and RM got the steak and everything was absolutely delicious and so fresh tasting!

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We also shared some sort of apple tart with cinnamon ice cream for dessert that went unpictured because we were too impatient to wait for me to get my phone to take a picture 😉

Another great thing about the Inn is that breakfast and breakfast tip are included in your room rate. When we saw all that they had to offer for breakfast, we couldn’t believe it! They had a really nice continental breakfast bar with fruit, yogurt, cereal, pastries, etc., but they also had a full breakfast menu. We decided to split both of the specials: blueberry pancakes and eggs benedict, with a side of homemade corn beef hash.

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Oh, my, God. Everything was so fresh and flavorful and just delicious.

We hit the road after breakfast so RM could be back in time to watch the game. I decided to make good use of time and went to Whole Foods. I treated myself to a smoothie since I was hungry for lunch at that point.

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We decided we wanted to do a roast chicken dinner so I prepped that when I got back before going to a yoga class.

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There is a CorePower Yoga a short walk from our apartment and last week there was a day where I just didn’t feel like going to the gym so I decided to check it out. They offer a free first week for new students which is an amazing deal, so I’m trying to get the most use out of it. Yesterday, the only class they had in a time that worked for me was their Yoga Sculpt class, which is almost like a yoga bootcamp. I really wanted a restorative yoga, but I ended up really loving the Yoga Sculpt class- we started and ended with nice yoga flows, but in the middle we used weights and did all sorts of lunges, pushups, squats, jumping jacks, burpees, etc…. I was totally in my element, even in the 98* room! I felt great when I left.

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I popped the chicken and veggies in the oven when I got home and everything came out SO GOOD! I have never made a roast chicken before even though it’s my favorite meal so I was a little nervous but everything tasted delicious.

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And that’s about it. If you made it this far, thank you!!

Now that we have our venue and date picked, I can focus on the fun stuff like dress shopping and invites and things like that! Feels SO GOOD to have the biggest part of wedding planning checked off 🙂

Questions for you: What was the best part of your weekend? Do you prefer beer or wine? What’s your favorite dinner meal? What do you have going on this week?