Monthly Archives: March 2012

Back to the Bar

I failed the Physical Education (PE) exit exam in my sophomore year of high school.

The PE exit exam was given to all sophomores – it tested your ability to do push-ups, sit-ups,  your mile time, and other basic measures of physical fitness. If you passed the exit exam, then you didn’t have to take PE your junior or senior year.

The instructor stopped me while I was doing the sit-up portion and told me I wasn’t doing them correctly. And that was it, I failed. I was among a handful of students that didn’t pass the exam out of the 300+ students in my graduating class.

I was fifteen, and my dad picked me up from school that day. I  held the tears in all day long. As soon as I got in the car, I burst out crying. I was so hysterical with shame; my poor dad thought one of my friends died.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t physically fit; I was in great shape. I ran cross-country in high school, and although I was the slowest person on my team, I was faster than most of the other students in my PE class. I’ve always had super strong legs; I could run for miles and miles in high school (before I got a knee injury that has prevented me from running ever since).

However, I’ve never had a strong core or strong arms. Never. It hadn’t really bothered me until that day in high school that my very weak core prevented me from passing the exit exam.

Honestly, I had always had difficultly with sit-ups and push-ups, and I kinda, sorta cheated whenever we did them in PE. It was my fault, really.

I’ve never been what you would call an athlete. Although I swam for my local swim team in elementary school, played soccer for a few years in elementary and middle school, and ran cross-country in high school, I was never the best. In every sport I played, I was the one of the weakest players on the team. Sure, I always had plenty of team spirit and met some amazing friends from the sports, but I never enjoyed the actual sport at all. I didn’t enjoy the sports because no matter how much I tried, as much and I practiced, I wasn’t ever very good.

I was good at something though. Really good. The best in my class.

That something? Ballet.

My mom put me in ballet as a little girl and I fell in love. I loved everything about the class; the stretching, the bar exercises, and the dance routines. In elementary school, I was dedicated to ballet, and was promoted to the “pre-pointe” class before all of my peers; I was the youngest in the class by at least one year.

In our performances, I was usually given a solo or duet; I just loved performing. And even more, I loved the music. Ballet taught me such an appreciation for classical music; an appreciation that turned to love.

A recital in which I had a duet. I'm the girl in the light pink skirt on the left, I had a duet with the other girl in the light pink skirt. (Whose name is coincidentally is also Brittany).

I’m not sure how old I was, maybe nine. I came home from ballet one day and told my mom I wanted to quit. The other girls in my “pre-pointe” class were mean to me and it made me hate going. I don’t really remember what exactly happened, but it was my first (of many) exposures to cliques, and being the rookie, I wasn’t in the clique.

So I quit. I quit ballet and continued (unsuccessfully) with sports. I had never really looked back.

Until recently.  After years of being incredibly unhappy with sports, I decided to go back to my first love.

Well, sort of.

In my quest for Operation Love Handle last fall, I started regular attending my gym’s spin classes. I started noticing results and I was pretty pleased.

But then it occurred to me; I still wasn’t really building core or arm strength. Sure, spinning does help with core and arm strength, but that’s not what you’re targeting.

I decided to look at other options. I had heard buzz on Twitter about something called The Bar Method. I wasn’t really sure what that meant; all I knew was it was an intense workout that used ballet bars.

Wait. Ballet bars? Sign me up.

I tentatively took my first class in November; and frankly, it kicked my ass. I already knew that all of the arm and core exercises would be difficult, but I didn’t realize that the leg exercises would be so hard.

My “super strong legs” failed me. I could barely get through the quad exercises. I actually thought my legs would fold under me. Quads are only maybe 3-5 minutes of a Bar Method class, but it feels like 30 minutes. (And still does).

After my introductory period ended, I waited to return until after the holidays and the “New Year’s Resolution rush”. I started regularly taking classes in the end of January and have been taking them regularly ever since.

In just over two months, I’ve noticed results. I don’t know if I’ve lost weight, but I do know that I can comfortably fit into pants that I had to stop wearing over a year ago.

The arm and core exercises are very challenging, but I’ve noticed progress (as small as it may be). I’m confident that I will be able to do at least 10 real push-ups by the end of the year.

Surprisingly enough, the quad exercises still are the most difficult exercises for me. I discovered it may correlate to my knee injury, but really I think that the exercises are so targeted and my muscles haven’t ever had that type of targeted training before. My goal is to “stay in the muscle” (a Bar Method term) for the entire exercise; it’s a challenge that I’m trying to achieve.

And while there’s technically no dancing or “ballet” really, it does feel like I’m taking a dance class; there’s great music, technique and skill. I just love it.

And, the studio I go really feels like a community; the instructors are knowledgeable, friendly, and know every client’s name. Seriously. You tell them your name once and they know it. It’s unreal.

Maybe one day (after I continue to get in better shape) I will try ballet (or some version of dance) again.

But for now, I’m very pleased with The Bar Method, my studio, and most of all, my progress.

And the little dancer in me is very pleased. 🙂

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Filed under Exercise, Fun Things, Things I've learned

Things I like this week (vol. 10)

1. I discovered the goodness of roasted pumpkin seeds from Trader Joe’s a few months ago and they quickly became my favorite snack. Tonight I finally put them in my salad and OH.MY.GOD. they are unreal. Try them.

2. Lisa from Smacksy posted this on her “Smacksy Sunday Links” if you’ve ever had a dog and moved, then you must read it. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.

3. I baked again this weekend. And, if you don’t already know, I have an obsession with anything S’mores related. So when I made these, I almost died. Pure bliss.

4. The little boys in my apartment complex are playing some sort of police/capture/shoot-each-other-with-nerf-darts game outside right now and it makes me really miss being a kid. (Expect my roommate’s dog, Maya is FREAKING out with them running around my apartment. It’s unfortunate).

5. I decided to save some of my hard earned cash and start checking books out from the Library. I went and got a Library card today and learned that many books are available to check out in the e-book form – they will send the book to your Kindle for a period of three weeks. I excitedly came home and dusted off my 2nd edition Kindle (that looks like it’s from the dark ages) and I’m in the midst of getting it synced up with the Library. Love it – I don’t have to ever worry about late fees again!

6. I’ve had a lot more time on my hands lately and so I’ve been home most of the day. The dogs (Tahnee and Maya) have been glued to my hip. Part of me is tired of two large Labradors following me from room to room to room, but the other part of me just loves their devotion.

7. I’m in the middle of a major re-organization of well, everything. Man, does it feel so good. (Wasn’t I just complaining about being unorganized?)

8. I know I’m totally late to the party on this one, but I just started watching the first season of “Lost” – I kinda know how it ends from all of the outrage almost two years ago, but I still freakin’ love it.

I think I’m just like Kate. Sans the criminal record, curly hair and incredible biceps. Other than that, we’re exactly the same person. 😉

9. I’m also late to the party about the amazing Florence + The Machine as well, but I’ve just discovered they’re song, “Shake it Out” and no, I didn’t discover it from watching “Smash”…. This song has been my theme song for the past four weeks.

Let me just tell you:

It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off.

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Filed under Music, My Apartment, Tahnee, Things I like

28 in year 28

Recently, I turned 27. I had one of the best birthdays I’ve had in my twenties. In San Diego, I had a dinner with close friends – a night of laughing, listening and unconditional love. Last weekend, I traveled to the Bay Area and had an incredible family dinner and birthday cake made my brother and S2. My family came together over this superb meal, and I felt completely loved.

As my brother and S2 remind me every year, I am 27 years-old, starting my 28th year of life. (Right?! Just when you become okay with your age, you gain another year!)

Inspired by many fellow blogger’s life lists, and particularly Drea’s 30 by 30, and Tami’s 43 by 43 here are 28 things I want to do in my 28th year.

  1. Learn how to surf.
  2. Read 28 books.
  3. Save 10% of my monthly paycheck.
  4. Do 10 real push-ups.
  5. Listen to live music at least once a month.
  6. Start a garden in my backyard.
  7. Take Tahn to the beach twice a month (except when it’s closed for the summer).
  8. Create scrapbooks of all the cards from my grandma.
  9. Find a yoga studio in the San Diego area that teaches Yin Yoga; attend class twice a month.
  10. Go to a roller derby match.
  11. Visit 3 museums in San Diego.
  12. Enter two writing contests.
  13. Write a letter a week.
  14. Hold a plank for 60 seconds.
  15. Walk Tahn 5 days a week.
  16. Become CPR certified.
  17. Hike once a month.
  18. Bake an Angel Food Cake from scratch.
  19. Help my mom learn to use her iPod.
  20. Clear out all the boxes of stuff from my dad’s house.
  21. Play in the beach with Buddy.
  22. Learn to French Braid my hair.
  23. Find a volunteer job that I really love.
  24. Host a brunch.
  25. Join a wine club.
  26. Start collecting wall art.
  27. Watch a foreign film.
  28. Stop using paper towels.

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Filed under Exercise, Family, Food!, Fun Things, Life, Living Simply

Things I like this week (vol. 9)

1. I hate how much I’ve been neglecting my blog but I’ve been working on a project that has been taking up 90% of my free time. I’ll be back soon.

2. I read this weeks ago. Weeks ago. I’m a moderator. What are you?

3. I love to watch Smash and envision Katharine McPhee back when she was on American Idol singing “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”

4. I was sitting in the bath tonight reading O’s latest issue on decluttering, and I realized how badly I need to declutter, but I need to totally unpack. First things first.
5. I made these this weekend.

Delicious.

I’ve been eating 1 (or 2) every night since I made them on Saturday. They are so good that this evening I was sitting down to enjoy a cupacke and my DVR in my room wasn’t working. I walked back and forth from my living room to my room troubleshooting my DVR, dropping sprinkles all over the place. (Note: the DVR still isn’t working. I guess the cupcake didn’t help).

6. I went to the dog beach with Tahn, my roommate, and my roommate’s dog, Maya. It was maybe the best hour of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tahn that happy. Ever.

Tahn and Maya

7. This is how I have felt more often than not lately.

8. Drea’s post on living alone made me laugh and realize how similar I was when I lived alone. I rarely did dishes, clothes were everywhere, I usually walked around without some form of clothing on.

9. Tahn’s been putting herself to bed lately.

It’s a problem.

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Filed under Food!, Friends, Life, Tahnee, Things I like

The space beside me

For 18 weeks, the space beside me was mostly vacant.

I had an occasional passenger in my car; a friend, a family member, a coworker.

I had friends I shared meals, movies, wine and conversations with.

I had company, but not my dearest friend.

After 18 weeks, Tahn finally came to live with me in San Diego. The weekend after I moved into my new (and permanent!!) place, I drove to the Bay Area and back in the span of 40 hours. It was exhausting, emotional, and worth every second.

Tahnee, minutes after we started our journey to San Diego, stopping for gas. Very anxious.

Starting to relax, hoping she's really staying with me this time. Anxiety diminishing.

Finally able to fully relax and rest. Anxiety almost gone.

Stopping at my favorite gas station with my Tahn. Anxiety free and loving life.

At our new home, with her new roommie and best friend, Maya.

The space next to me is now filled with two rambunctious, happy, playful dogs. And I couldn’t be more thrilled.

________________________________________________________________________

Many, many, many thanks to my dad for taking care of Tahn for the 18 weeks. He fed her, WALKED her (walked her more than she has ever been walked in her life) and gave her tons of love. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what I would have done. He’s the best.

Retro photo of my dad and Tahn. Circa 2008 (Isn't she a small little girl?!?!)

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Filed under Crazy Dog Lady, Family, Tahnee