2016 was a year of amazing highs and low lows, but I found inspiration through many stories that I read that year. These books are different in many ways, but similar in the way the offer inspiration to seek out your goals, live your dreams, and to continue when times get tough. They also gave me a reality check when I found myself in self-pity and shook me to realize things really aren't that bad. So here are my inspirational books from last year, and I can't wait to share with you the ones I'll be reading this year!
When I took my first yoga class my freshman year of college (for credit!) the goal of the semester was to learn The Sun Salutation. The Sun Salutation is great for both the beginner and the advanced. Learning the Sun Salutation for beginners is a great way to become comfortable with different yoga poses and to learn how to move from pose to pose. Its also great for those who are advanced because it can take you to the next level physically and spiritually depending on what you want to get out of the practice.
I've been practicing yoga on and off for about ten years now, and while I won't call myself a yogi (yet - that's what 2015 is for), I will say that I am pretty familiar with most types of yoga. However, after I was looking through my Ultimate Yogi DVD set, I noticed one of the classes is called Yin Yoga. I wasn't really sure what it was, so I popped it in for my Sunday practice. Wow. It was yoga unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was one of the most calming, meditative, relaxing yoga classes I've ever done. It felt amazing. My body felt jelly afterwards, but in a good way, all my tightness (tightness I didn't even realize I had) was gone, my mind was clear, and I felt incredibly calm.
I think a lot when I run. I think about my family, my friends, my job, things that annoy me, and things that make me happy. When a run gets hard I also try to think about people who can't run or disabled people who STILL run. I think about how fortunate I am to be able to be out running and those thoughts get me through some tough days. But I've been wanting to do more than just THINK about these things. Marci and I always try to find races that are for a cause - Cure Mito, St Jude's, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We can donate our own time and money (which we do), but we want to do more. And I've found a way with the Charity Miles app.
I'm into Day 11 of my 108 days of yoga (read about that journey soon) and today's class was a detox class and full of twists. The purpose of twisting yoga poses is to detox your body. Scientifically speaking twisting yoga does not detox your liver or other internal organs, but it does detox the mind and opens the body up in ways not possible through other yoga poses. Twisting poses also stimulate blood flow which then help push toxins out. Yoga breathing, exhaling of carbon dioxide from your body, in combination with twisting poses are a great way to detox your body.
I’ve started 2015 with one event on the horizon. I’ll be back to Lake Tahoe in August for the Big Blue Adventure Open Water swim, but otherwise, my race calendar is wide open. I’ve found a couple triathlons, half marathons, and even a marathon I’d like to attempt, but I haven’t signed up for anything yet. At the moment my training is light and stress free. And I’m kind of digging it.
This past year has been a journey from vegetarian to vegan, from 3 miles on the run to 7 miles, from not biking in over a year to biking 45 miles in a day and planning a 10 day bike trip through the UK, from swimming 1300 yards to 3000 yards and out into the ocean. In November of 2013 I signed up to complete a triathlon, 10 months before the actual event, and I was determined to feel ready for it in time. In the end I finished two triathlons this year - one in training and the actual race I signed up for, swam three open water swims, started biking 14 miles each way to work, and have spent hour after hour pounding the pavement. And I honestly don't think I would have been able to do it all as happily and excited as I have been without changing my diet to plant based.
When I first began my journey into the plant-based lifestyle two people were at the forefront of information and advice: Rich Roll and Brendan Brazier. Brendan Brazier, in my opinion, is the trailblazer in leading an active plant-based lifestyle. He's a former professional Ironman, two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, AND plant-based athlete. He, with Charles Chang, have created Vega, a plant-based protein powder, supplement, and sports food company. He's also the author of four books: Thrive, Thrive Foods,Thrive Energy Cookbook, and Thrive Fitness, which are full of incredibly useful information about eating a plant-based diet and living a plant-based life. He also has an awesome website Thrive Forward with tons of information, videos, and recipes for the plant-based enthusiast (or the plant-curious.)
Dealing with negativity from yourself, from loved ones, or others can be very trying and exhausting. It can instantly change a great day into a terrible day. I deal with negativity from myself daily during workouts - on a run that I can't seem to finish, or I do finish, but with lots of intermittent walking and at a slower pace. I had one of those moments today.
These women are inspiring. In March, seven women ambassadors from cycling-apparel company Rapha set out to ride the 2014 Amgen Tour of California in reverse - 700 miles in seven days. The Amgen Tour of California is a man's race. Just like the Tour de France, the Giro D'Italia, and the Vuelta A Espana. Like most professional sports, women have been treated differently from the beginning. Huge improvements have been made in some sports, including tennis where men and women are paid equally, but there's a long way to go. These seven women set out to ride a course men ride every year and although they didn't ride it like the professionals do, they rode as a team, supporting each other along the way and sharing their love of the sport. And yes, proving women can do it to.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Hear that? That's the sound your body makes after a yoga practice. Seriously. I've heard my body say that.
Yoga is a great lesson in patience. It takes time to fully bend and stretch and not fall down during certain poses and it is an ongoing lifetime practice. I've been practicing yoga on and off again for about 12 years with some big gaps in between. I can say that my life always feels a little better when I have a consistent yoga practice. I feel more aligned, more steady, and more at peace.
I've been wanting to begin a meditation practice for a while now. We talk about how important it is to keep our bodies healthy, but we tend to forget that we need to keep our minds healthy. We can exercise our muscles daily, but we forget that our minds are just as important to exercise.
I am very new to meditation. My first question when I wanted to begin practicing was, 'How do I do it?' Do I think about something? Do I clear my mind? Do I chant? I looked into a couple guided meditation apps and found two that I've begun using to start me out.
Rich Roll has been the main inspiration for creating this website and spreading the world about plant based diets. He has an everyman story of finding himself overweight, unhealthy, and deciding to change his life by going plant based. Since then he's become a two-time top placing Ultraman (6.2 mile swim, 261.4 mile bike, 52.4 mile run), best selling author of Finding Ultra, plant based nutrition advocate, and host of The Rich Roll Podcast. Although I don't know Rich personally, I feel that he has been my guiding force for my journey of going plant based.
Today is the anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing. Every runner is thinking about the attacks today. Of course we ask why did it have to happen. And sometimes there is no reason for evil. However, there's always a reason for good. Its ironic how evil tries to scare, hurt, and overcome good, but I believe good always survives, and evil never comes from good.
I am inspired. Many of us are raised to follow a certain path: go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, send those kids to school, be a grandparent. Many of our careers are in square cubicles, entering numbers and data, following what other people tell us to do hour after hour. Its what we've been taught to do, but what if there was more? What if we break out of that square cubicle? What if we jump off of the course we've been set on?
"Your soul is screaming for you to answer your true calling."
Chakras are energy centers in our body. Think of them as a long hose where our energy flows through. If there is a block in one of our chakras, our energy is stuck and unable to pass through leaving our remaining chakras empty of energy and overflowing our previous chakras creating an imbalance in our bodies. Energy needs to continuously flow through our chakras to center ourselves allowing peace and harmony to balance from the inside out.