Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fitness as a journey

Yesterday I went back to Bikram yoga for the first time in a month.

Let that sink in for a hot sec. A whole month. I knew it was going to be rough, but was pleasantly surprised when I was moving through pranayama deep breathing and half moon pose. I eve felt uncharacteristically strong during the balancing series. Usually, I fall out at least once on each pose, but this time I was able to hold both sets of each posture until the instructor told us to change.

And then I hit the floor. The floor was not friendly yesterday -- I had those feelings of being overheated that I used to get so frustrated by early into my Bikram experience. I made all the rookie mistakes -- wiping away sweat, fanning myself, angry at the heat. Basically, the second half of my very first class back in a month was rough -- and that's an understatement.

So I'm sitting there, feeling like death and about to go through all the should've/could've/would'ves about my last month of being away from my normal routine. But then I realized (probably one of those life-realization-right-before-death moments) that fitness, much like life, isn't a destination. There's not one moment where you achieve your peak fitness - it's about the getting there, failing, getting there again, and maintaining. The question is -- why did I fall off of my fitness journey? Why did my yoga and running take a backseat to other things? How can I learn from the past month so that, in the future, it doesn't happen again? And in the meantime, how do I find peace in where I currently am while also striving to reach my full fitness/health potential?

In my heat dillusion, I came up with focusing on that one class. I made it my goal to not leave the room - just like it had been for the very first few Bikram classes I attended.

And I am happy to report -  I did not die, and I managed to stay in the room the entire 90 minutes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Confessions of a Targa-holic: My favorite (inexpensive) sports bra

Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone's week is going well. I had a really fantastic weekend with two of my best friends at Amelia Island last weekend, and I'm still wishing I was by the beach!

Luckily, Trader Joe's has these delicious plantain chips that I am enjoying while I pretend I am still somewhere tropical. And they're not the only thing keeping me in good spirits.
buy here

I'm also rocking my new neon green and bright blue sports bra by C9 for Target. I actually bought this one in purple/blue too, since these babies were on sale for $12(!!).

I'm kind of obsessed with Target (and have considered renaming this blog "Confessions of a Targa-holic" on multiple occasions), and I have this problem where I go in for bananas and come out with sports bras. They knew what they were doing when they converted all the Targets into Super Targets, let me tell you.

buy here

My favorite sports bra ever is the Free to Be bra from Lululemon because it's perfect for both Bikram and running, but sometimes I'm a sucker for fun patterns and low price tags. I love that the Target brand sports bras fit that bill AND are super comfy and functional for distance running.

What are your favorite sports bras? Are you a sucker for fun patterns too?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Some things never change

I used to hate flying. I was terrified of planes, didn't like the stress that came with airport security checkpoints, and really didn't like spending $4 for a bottle of water.

In fact, on my first flight to Alabama as a CDC, I nearly had a breakdown because we only arrived 50 minutes before our flight took off (the horror!). We made that plane, and throughout the rest of the year, I navigated canceled flights, long security lines, and getting to the airport with under an hour until my flight.

Somewhere along the tens of thousands of miles I traveled, airports became my "me" place. They were where I treated myself to Starbucks, caught up on blogs, watched Hulu, worked on reports. And planes, the things I used to be the most afraid of, became my place to enjoy a good book or write thank you notes.

The airports and planes were my routine. In a year where I felt like nothing was constant, the traveling was something that never changed.

So here I am now, sitting in the Jacksonville Airport, with my first flight delayed and a pretty good chance that I'll miss both my booked connection and the back-up connection that my new Delta agent friend Kareem just helped me get on, and I'm at peace. I don't know if I'm going to be sleeping in my bed or on an airport bench tonight, but I feel pretty okay.

Nearly two years later, I am sitting here, catching up on blogs, drinking an Iced Passion Tea, and smiling because even though so much is different about my life and who I am, some things never change.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Goal (re)setting

I've said it a lot, but competing in Miss Virginia was a goal that I never thought I'd be able to have. Up until I competed at (and won) Miss Greater Springfield, I didn't think that it would be possible for me to succeed within the Miss America Organization because I thought that I didn't have the talent. I wasn't a singer or a dancer, and people always said that girls did monologues when they didn't have any other talent.

And so, as someone whose greatest gifts include public speaking, throwing a football, and running long distances not very fast, I didn't really look at Miss Virginia as something that was even within the realm of possibility for me to achieve.

Until I won Miss Greater Springfield. And watched Miss America 1968, where Miss America that year won with a monologue.

Anyways, I prefaced with all that to say: Competing at Miss Virginia was a Big, Fat, Obnoxiously Crazy Goal (all caps because it deserves that much respect). As in, I never dreamed in a million years I would have a shot at it, and then I did. And it was awesome.

But how do you bounce back from the goal achievement hangover? As in, what happens after you achieve  what was your biggest goal to date?

Obviously, by setting more goals.

YOLO (or something like that).

Yesterday, I signed up for the Ragnar Relay in October of this year. I'll be running for Girls on the Run and raising money for scholarships for deserving girls to take part in this awesome, inspiring, and life changing program. I am beyond excited, and (to be honest), a little scared (in an awesome way!).

Me and 11 other amazing women are going to be running nearly 200 miles of trails from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. Each of us will have three legs, totaling anywhere from 13 to 25 miles over the course of two days. October is going to be my month of running -- Ragnar in the beginning, Marine Corps at the end.

My goal for the rest of 2013 is to concentrate on, as Thoreau put it, "living the life I have imagined." Adding more of what makes me come alive, and minimizing that which does the opposite. So I've signed up for Ragnar, I'm training for the MCM, and I even bought a domain and am going to focus on building my blog. I'm planning a baseball trip to Ohio to run a half marathon and knock two more baseball stadiums off my list.

Life is supposed to be about action: you're never going to find happiness, joy, excellence, or whatever it is you're searching for if you are passively living your life.

So here's to setting more goals. How are you being awesome today?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lessons from Miss Virginia Part I: What I Told Them in Interview

Well, it's been a little over a week since I got back from Roanoke, where I competed to become Miss Virginia. I was honored to make the top 11 in a group of 26 inspiring, smart, and beautiful women who I came to love a whole lot over the course of the week.

I could probably write a novel about what I experienced and learned, how I was inspired, and how I grew, but I don't think you want to read all that :) What I do want to do is write a little about my interview, because it really speaks to why I was even competing in a swimsuit competition in the first place (hint! The swimsuit competition is just a means to an end). I'll write a more general post tomorrow about my entire experience.
top 11 gown - Julius Tolentino
monologue - Julius Tolentino

prelim swimsuit
My interview kicked off with questions about SEC football changing to a rotating conference schedule (no, seriously), my job with Delta Gamma, and ways to provide healthy food to low income families. And then, I was asked about my various interests and where Miss Virginia fit into them. Here's the gist of what I told the judges:

I was competing to become Miss Virginia because I absolutely, positively wanted the job. Because if I could put down on paper the job that I wanted to have at 24, traveling the state as Miss Virginia was (and is) it. Because I had already had a job where I lived out of a suitcase, traveled all over the country, and inspired women. It was a job that challenged and fulfilled me on a daily basis, and it was a job that I very much wanted the opportunity to do again.

I wanted to be Miss Virginia not only to impact the lives of little girls but because I believe that Miss Virginia is also the perfect platform to empower and inspire women.

As it stands, the Miss America Organization is the world's largest provider of college scholarships for women, and last year alone, it provided nearly $50 million in scholastic assistance to women at the local, state, and national level. Clearly MAO empowers contestants to achieve their scholastic and career ambitions already, but what if we took it to the next level?

What if, by speaking on college campuses and having real conversations with women, Miss Virginia (and ultimately Miss America) could inspire and empower her own generation -- even those women who will never enter a Miss America preliminary? I was competing because I know that Miss Virginia can be that role model for women that our generation really needs.

Miss America isn't just a pageant. It is a values-based organization, building and rewarding well rounded women who are driven to succeed in whatever field they choose. By building relationships with and inspiring her peers, Miss Virginia (or Miss America) becomes a role model for college-aged women, and ultimately inspires participation in local preliminaries by women who may have never considered competing in a pageant.

It's just like sorority recruitment. People don't join organizations, people join people. In this case, women join women. If you are able to communicate the values of the organization in your words and actions through building relationships, women want to be a part of your organization because they understand the value the organization can give them.

My story of my year would have been one of empowerment, inspiration, and recruiting new women to be a part of an incredible organization. I envisioned closed local preliminaries at colleges and universities throughout the state, much like in Georgia, as a way for MAO to widen its circle of influence.

I was competing because not only did I want the job of Miss Virginia, but I knew that I could do the job of Miss Virginia.

And while I may not have won, the judges did select a fantastic representative of our group of 26 winners. Desiree Williams is a role model for women; I know I certainly look up to her. She's smart, fit, driven, personable, and successful in pursuing her passions.

Look how much we love her - Julius Tolentino
And I cannot wait to cheer her on at Miss America.