THE BARRE CLASS MISTAKE I DON'T WANT YOU TO MAKE

I started taking barre classes consistently a few weeks after my mom passed away. I needed a new hobby, preferably one that could double as a mental escape. I'd taken a few barre classes before, but because the method and structure of class was largely new to me, it required my full attention and therefore was a great way for me to put my sadness aside for an hour. I focused on my body, zoning in on the instructor's words and my movement. Unlike SoulCycle, which was like second nature to me by then, this workout actually forced me to think of nothing else but pulsing, tucking, and lengthening. Exercise was a form of therapy. I went to Soul to chase my thoughts. I went to Pure Barre to get away from them.

I've been a trainer now for almost two years and I've had the privilege of connecting with lots of different types of people in that time. I meet a lot of women who have a very similar idea of beauty: the elusive "barre body." A tall, lean frame with muscles that are defined without being "bulky." 

I met a young woman once who asked me to do a workout together. I asked her what she was doing currently for exercise, and what her goals were. At the time, she was taking barre classes several times a week, and her primary goal was to lose weight - probably about 50 pounds. Now, I happen to love mat-based workouts - barre, Pilates, yoga, etc. - but I never recommend them exclusively to my weight loss clients. EVER. These types of workouts are a great complement to strength training and regular cardio. However, if you want to lose fat and keep it off, you need to build muscle. Simple as that. I was very honest with her and told her she wasn't going to lose the weight if she kept her exercising exclusively to barre. To my delight, she was open-minded and excited to lift weights with me.

We got to work and I challenged her at every corner. When it came time to hold planks, I was surprised to see that she was struggling, considering planks are typically an integral part of barre class. Then I realized she must've fallen into the trap that so many group exercise participants do.

Well, it's actually several traps. The first being you might not know how to properly hold a plank because no one's ever taught you. In my experience, planks require tons of cueing because actually achieving and maintaining proper form is tough! The second is that when we go to the same class over and over and over again, it tends to become second nature and our brains zone out while our bodies go through the motions, whether we mean to or not. I see this a LOT in barre classes. Women who are clearly not paying attention to their form or the instructor for one reason or another, and in return they're not getting the most out of the exercise. I did this at SoulCycle back when I was taking it 3-4 times a week with the same instructor. I prided myself on always being one step ahead. It was almost like I knew what was going to come out of their mouth before they did. 

The next time you hit a plank in a group exercise class, don't zone out! Listen to the instructor's cues and if you can't hear them or they aren't giving you enough or you are struggling, remember that a bad plank is worse than no plank at all, and similarly, it's better to hold a true plank for a shorter amount of time than a subpar plank for two minutes. Here's what I always tell my clients when it comes to (forearm) planks:

· Stack your shoulders over your elbows. You can have your forearms in sphinx position; I typically have my clients stack their palms (face-up) because I find it to be more comfortable.

· Pull in your belly button.

· Squeeze your tush.

· Glue your feet together and press your heels back.

· Think of pressing your elbows and toes into the ground while simultaneously pulling them towards one another. This mental cue is like a little "ON" switch for the abs. Try it!

When it comes to planks, I'm all about intensity over duration. I'd rather you hold a hard-as-hell plank (see last tip above) for 30 seconds than stay in the position for a few minutes without actually activating any muscles.

TO MAKE A PLANK EASIER:

· Plant your feet wide.

· Put your elbows on an elevated, stable surface like a bench or step.

NEED A CHALLENGE?

Bear Crawl (a personal fav)

Forearm to Hand Plank

Renegade Row

Plank Walk Back (I personally keep my feet a bit closer together than this dude)

Pull Across Plank

I don't take barre classes as much anymore; my workout focus these days is mainly weight lifting and strength training. My dad won a pack of Pure Barre classes at a charity auction recently so I do take one once in awhile, and it's always great fun (and a challenge!) 

YES, that's me above circa 1989 at Beth Am ballet class! To my great disappointment (and horror) my dancing skills are absolute garbage but day-yum Lil' Teds sure thought she had the MOVES!

MONDAY MOTIVATION: GET MOVING

When people ask me about my health and fitness journey, I typically go back to "where it all started" - the spring of 2011. Something clicked and after decades of taking my own health for granted, eating like crap and never working out, I decided it was time to wake up, pay attention and make some changes. I gave my lifestyle a makeover, lost about 15 pounds and have learned over the years that my health and fitness is just that - a JOURNEY. It's ever-changing and never-ending.

But yesterday, when I was folding laundry and listening to my 90's playlist, I realized that actually wasn't my first time around the block with weight loss. Back in the late 90's, when my family moved to Dallas, I was really depressed about leaving Miami and everything I knew behind and definitely used food as an emotional crutch. I wouldn't say I was overweight; I'd say that I weighed more than I should have. And as a girl who'd always had tons of energy and a quick metabolism, feeling heavy emotionally AND physically was really tough. Growing up in Miami, I was outside EVERY DAY. I rode my bike, I rollerbladed, I swam, I played hopscotch on the sidewalk and shot hoops in our driveway. I didn't play any team or organized sports... but I was always active without giving it a second thought. (I also took tennis lessons but much to my dad's disappointment I was not the next Steffi Graf... far from it. I took tons of different dance classes too, but sadly I was horrible.) 

When we moved to Dallas, though, that all changed. Even though much like Florida, the weather was conducive to being outside most days, I suddenly had no desire to spend my time being active. I fought my parents' desire to send me to a private school because I was sick of the obnoxious, spoiled kids I'd gone to Gulliver with. So they sent me to public school, where I didn't get the individualized attention I was used to and definitely needed. I was in 8th grade which I think is probably an awkward time for most of us, but the fact that I was without much of a social life really magnified the ickiness of middle school. I felt lost. Most afternoons and evenings I watched Wonder Years re-runs and cried. My parents didn't know what to do with me. That first year in Texas was really, really tough on all of us.

When that summer rolled around, something changed. I decided to be a camp counselor at Perri's day camp, and I spent every day with the kids playing outside and running around. I lost the weight I'd gained and went to 9th grade feeling confident. That first day of high school was SO awesome... I hadn't really seen most of the kids I'd gone to school with over the summer, and I could tell a lot of them were surprised at how different I looked.

The funny thing was... I wasn't trying. I shed the extra pounds I was carrying around and my figure kind of just went back to the way it was supposed to be. 

As we all know, it's harder to lose weight as you age. You HAVE to try. 

But whether I was 15 or 26, the key to success was the same: I had to get moving

This post is for anyone reading who is going through a hard time and knows they need to change. Maybe you're nursing a broken heart or a bruised ego. Maybe you feel like you're too far gone and it's easier to just accept the way things are and keep eating whatever, whenever. Maybe you're embarrassed because you've let things get bad. Maybe you're afraid to fail. Maybe you're afraid to start. Maybe you don't know how.

I'm here to tell you that it is hard and it will take effort. You will hit walls and you will hit your limits. You'll have to practice willpower. You'll have to commit. It will suck at times. 

But I'm also here to tell you that IT'S WORTH IT. 

When I was 15, I got moving by accident. I rediscovered my love for being outside and being active. When I was 26, I got moving on purpose. And it was so much more than physically moving: I had to change my eating habits, my sleep habits, my overall attitude and more.

My challenge to you on this beautiful Monday is to take a hard look and be honest with yourself. It is often the hardest thing, but luckily it's half the battle. Once you admit that you have to get moving, figuring out how is the fun part!

{sports brashorts, sneakers}

WHAT I ATE WHILE INTERMITTENT FASTING

My "What I Ate" posts always seem to be a hit and many of you have shown interest in Intermittent Fasting. So, bam! I combined 'em. This will give you a little glimpse into my day-to-day life while intermittent fasting.

I covered this here in greater detail, but in short, I fast for 16 hours and then eat in the following 8-hour window. Typically I work out around 11 and try to eat my first meal between 12-1:30pm and finish eating between 8-9:30pm. For this post, I tracked Tuesday, June 13. I drank about a gallon of water throughout the day, starting eating around 12:45 and finished right around 8:30.

Tuesday started nice and early with a 5:30am alarm. I had a break between clients, so Ben walked Winnie over to the gym so that we could switch off, he could go work out and I could walk her home. It was almost 8 and I was dying for a coffee, but of course everyone stopped to say hi to Winnie so we didn't get home as swiftly as I would've liked. 

Once home, I had 4oz of Chameleon cold brew mixed with water and about 2 tbsp of Califia Farms hazelnut almond milk creamer. (I also love nutpods for my morning coffee especially during IF but I ran out and need to order more!)

Back at the gym, I had more water while I worked. After I ran home, walked Winnie and took her to daycare so she could play for a bit, I headed back to the gym for my own workout. Me and my BCAAs did a nice upper body workout. My butt was super sore from Monday's workout so it was nice to focus on my back, core and arms.

(In LOVE with my new gym bag!)

Afterward, a client kindly treated me to lunch. Normally I'd run home and make a big salad or omelet, so this was a nice treat! I had a big bowl of chicken, mixed veggies and rice. I ate all the chicken, most of the veggies, and probably about half the rice. It was a really big serving!

Back at home, I had another iced coffee while I did laundry and dishes and watched the latest episode of Southern Charm. I cried with Kensie (sp?) and Kathryn when they were separated after their photo shoot. I don't care who it is (I'm pretty indifferent about Kathryn Dennis) but if a mother and a daughter cannot be together for any reason, I cry. Period.

On the upside, I now have a whole bunch of clean gym clothes and water bottles. So all in all, a good afternoon. 

My afternoon snack was an organic apple and a Perfect Bar. I should note that I typically don't eat three full meals while doing IF. I opt for a big snack or a couple of smaller snacks between "lunch" and "dinner". I picked up Winnie and ate the apple at 2:45 and the bar at 3:30 and went back to the gym to train a few clients.

I got home around 7 and walked Winnie quickly so I could get to eating dinner. Ben was out at a business dinner so I was perfectly content to make a big scramble with a side salad for one!

I cooked up one whole egg with half a cup of liquid egg whites and scrambled them with some chicken sausage. I decided to grate some goat cheese on top that I just got from Fresh Direct and unfortunately that ruined the meal. It was "very aged" goat cheese which I guess I've never had before because I HATED it. It was really pungent, strong and unpleasant. I choked most of it down because I hate wasting food, but it was not enjoyable. Soooo...

I treated myself to frozen yogurt! I really wanted strawberries on top but the place was swamped and they were pretty much out of strawberries and hadn't yet refilled the container. Knowing that my feeding window was ending shortly, I "settled" for sprinkles and chopped up heath bar and got the hell out of there so I could enjoy this without inhaling it. I finished eating right around 8:30.

So, there you have it. A day of intermittent fasting. Far from perfect, but I love it because it's surprisingly flexible and works well with my lifestyle.

OFF-DUTY STYLE: MIAMI

Every time I sit down to pull together one of these posts, I have this image in my head of that angel and devil scenario where you've got one on each shoulder shouting conflicting ideas. Except I don't really have an angel or a devil per say, I just have two versions of myself telling me that I'm ridiculous. Because really, who's coming to me for style? I spend 92% of my life in some form of dri-fit, spandex or "luon". But whatever, I'm still going to write this post!

Ben and I went down to Miami for the first time since our wedding this past weekend, and despite the weather stealing a day from us (our first flight was cancelled and our second was seriously delayed) we still got down there and had a great time! I embrace heat and humidity with open arms because for a long time it was all I knew, and you'll see in the photos below that my hair goes from looking sort of presentable to just straight-up whack. I used a lot of hairspray but my Jewfro just wasn't havin' it.

I wore this first look out to dinner at American Social. We sat outside, right on the Miami River. The atmosphere is casual and fun, and we loved seeing people take their pups on evening walks. Great place to people watch and/or watch a game. If we were still in Miami we'd 100% be there for the rest of the NBA Finals games. I fell in love with this top the first time I saw it, but waited to purchase it until it went on sale. And these are definitely my favorite sandals right now... so comfy and cute.

off-the-shoulder tassel top (on sale!), "instasculpt" jeans, lace-up sandals, trio crossbody bag

On Friday morning we were up early and decided to start the day at the gym. It was bench press day for me! This tank is lulu and fairly new but I can't find it on the website. ALSO! I found no-show socks that work with Converse/other low-cut sneakers. 

similar tanktights, chucks, no-show socks, neverfull

After our workouts, coffee and breakfast, we decided to venture out even though the weather was insane. I wore this dress (I'm obsessed) to wander around the UM campus, eat lunch at the bar at Greenstreet and see Baywatch. Which was both terrible and wonderful.

mixed wash chambray dress, sandals, neverfull

RA bunch of you asked about this dress I wore to walk around City Center and have dinner at Fi'lia. I found it at TJMaxx for 17 bucks! I found the same style in different colors/patterns - see below. I'm wearing a size small. By the way, Fi'lia is probably my favorite restaurant in Miami right now. It's a must. I love you Michael Schwartz.

faux wrap dress (different floral print, also found it in a lighter floral here and in yellow here), lace-up sandalstrio crossbody bag, denim jacket (on sale!)

We attempted to play tennis on Saturday morning and were rained out about 15 minutes into our game. I love the game of tennis, but I prefer watching to playing because I'm terrible. 

dri-fit polo (on sale & newer/cuter version), tennis skirt (on sale!), lite run sneakers (on sale!), my fav running socks

I wore this combo to walk around Merrick Park and Wynwood. These shorts are soft, stretchy and just an all-around delight. I've bought and subsequently donated probably half a dozen pairs of denim shorts in the past few years because I just couldn't find a good fit, so I'm happy I got these and they definitely didn't break the bank.

ruffle lace-up top, high-rise denim shorts (on sale!), sandalsneverfull

I found this cold shoulder romper at Nordstrom on Saturday and love that the slinky fabric gives it a way dressier illusion than it probably deserves. I mean for all I know this is a beach cover-up that I wore to Matador Room, but hey, I say throw on a few chic accessories and do whatever you want. I did think about buying the pink color but ultimately got black so that it would match my lace-up sandals for a more casual look.

cold shoulder romper, crochet wedge sandal (similar version, I actually like these better than mine), trio crossbody bag

The moment I saw this t-shirt, I knew I had to have it. My mom was obsessed with happy faces - she had diamond happy faces, those old-school Moschino happy face accessories, you name it. I love that this tee has little holes in it too, and the fit is perfectly slouchy. I bought a size small and it's a little bigger than I expected, but I like that it's oversized.

smiley tee (also love the tank), high-rise denim shorts (on sale!), chucksno-show socks

As many of you know I used to work in/be truly passionate about fashion, so it's fun to slip back into my old ways for a few days and share it with all of you. I do want to say that fashion for me used to be more about buying designer pieces that I loved (on sale/I'm a champion bargain shopper) and now it's really about what makes me feel confident and comfortable. So the looks you see above may be far from fashionable to most of you but they make me feel good and smile when I look in the mirror. I think that's what fashion should be all about and I wish I'd figured that out in my early twenties rather than my early thirties, but I know hindsight is 20/20. As always, thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you! Happy Monday!

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE WITH 16:8 INTERMITTENT FASTING

I am very excited to share my intermittent fasting experience with you! I decided to try intermittent fasting (IF) for a number of reasons. I started IF on May 14 and ended on June 1. The reason I stopped is because Ben and I had a dinner party at 10:30pm on June 2, and I wanted to be able to enjoy it. This week I'm traveling, but I'm planning to re-start IF again next Monday and keep it up for 4 weeks this time because I loved it and would like to make more gains with it. 

There are several different ways to do IF (see the end of this post for more info) but I chose the 16:8 / "Leangains" method because it's used mainly to build muscle with minimal fat accumulation. In this method of IF, you fast for 16 hours and feed for 8. The windows of fast vs. feed can vary, but typically I organized my days as follows:

· Wake up, usually around 6. Drink tons of water. Have a coffee with a little milk, cream, or dairy-free creamer around 8 or 9.

· Take BCAA's around 11/11:30 and begin workout.

· Eat first (and largest) meal around 1pm. Tons of protein and carbs. Drink more water throughout the day.

· Eat a big snack around 4 or 5, schedule permitting.

· Eat dinner around 7 or 8, and stop eating by 9.

· Go to bed and repeat!

In case you didn't see my Instagram post, when I started IF I had 57.8 pounds of muscle and 28.4 pounds of fat. 16 days later, I had 58.9 pounds of muscle and 25.6 pounds of fat.

Below I'm going to share the pros and cons I experienced, and I've included links/resources for you as well!

IMG_4962.JPG

(bra tank, high rise tights, watch)

Pros:

It's effective. Period. This worked for me and I believe in it. A few things you should know about my initial 2+ weeks of IF:

· I did no cardio. Yep, none. This wasn't on purpose, just how it happened.

· I lifted weights almost everyday.

· I drank coffee with a little bit of milk, cream, or dairy-free creamer every morning. If you consume 50 calories or less, your body is technically still in a fasted state.

· My diet was not perfect. I ate mostly grain- and gluten-free, but not completely.

· There were days I kept a perfect 16:8 fast, days where it was more like 17:7 and days where it was more like 18:6. Life inevitably gets in the way and you have to figure out how to go with the flow. A good example of this is one day during my IF period I had a doctors appointment at 11am that I knew was going to last 90min. I worked out at 10am so I'd be able to eat right after the doctor. Not ideal (I'd prefer to eat immediately following my workout) but I made it work. Overall, I was pretty strict with myself but it wasn't the exact same 16 hours fasting and 8 hours feasting for all 2+ weeks.

All of this to say I really played with flexibility in my diet and lifestyle and STILL saw success!

It allowed me to read my hunger better. I'm a huge proponent of listening to your body (it's always talking) but this is sometimes easier said than done. When you're used to eating in a 12- or 14-hour window and have suddenly been reduced to 8, you're really forced to figure out to pack a day's worth of quality nutrients into that time. It makes you think twice about eating a crappy snack or empty calories. You start to almost exclusively crave foods that'll help you feel whole, satiated and energetic.

It helps curb cravings for excessive sugar, salt, etc. see above.

It forced me to drink lots of water. Always a plus!

It forced me to appreciate coffee for coffee. If you love your AM lattes (like I do) you'll be forced to give them up for awhile. This was a great thing for me as lattes are lovely but tend to pack in more calories than a regular ol' coffee with a little bit of milk or cream in it.

It spoke to my Type A-ness. I LOVED organizing my days by workouts and meals. The fact that everything food-wise happened in an 8-hour window made it easy to plan for and track. I didn't have to worry about midmorning snacks, etc.

It reinforced the value of BCAAs. BCAAs were never really part of my routine prior to my stint in IF, but now I really see the value and will continue to take them with each workout. 

If you thrive on routine, this is for you. I'm a creature of habit and I loved having to work out and eating at pretty much the exact same time each day. 

Cons:

Hunger! This is the most obvious con. The mornings can be tough. I have to say the last few days were the worst, because my sinuses were acting up and I took Mucinex on an empty stomach. That was a bad move that I wouldn't repeat. Otherwise, yes, the hunger could suck at times - especially when I had busy mornings with clients and was running around town with no fuel other than water and caffeine - but you do adapt and just keep moving.

You're a slave to time. This is a big lifestyle change and you really have to commit to it. Like I mentioned above, neither my diet or my window timing was perfect, but I was definitely strict with myself. If I knew we were dining out that night and there was a chance dinner could go past 9, I'd wait until 1:30 to eat my first meal. For me, it was always easier to fast in the morning and rely on having a nice cushion in the evening, even if I didn't need to use the full 8-hour window.

Quite honestly those are the only two "bad" things I can say about IF. I am a huge fan and can't wait to do it again, for longer, and see where my results are next month!

Here's my body composition results/same photo I posted on Instagram. Top half of the photo is from 5/16; bottom half was taken 6/2. I'm 5'6" and have consistently weighed between 127 and 133 for the past 6ish years.

A few resources:

This Today Show segment from back in September is what initially sparked my interest in IF. Make sure you watch the first video. This explains several different ways to do IF.

Here's more info about the 16:8 protocol.

Even more info about Leangains.

BCAA's explained.

If you have any specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

OFF-DUTY STYLE: ATLANTA

I say it every time: these posts are so fun for me. Getting to wear "real clothes" several days in a row is a rarity, and I genuinely enjoy packing now (I used to absolutely dread it) because trips and vacations are really my only opportunities to wear cute tops, dresses, jeans, etc. for a chunk of time rather than a few hours during the weekend (when I'm not working). When I packed for our trip to Atlanta (which was less than 48 hours door-to-door) I had what I consider to be modern Southern style on the brain: floral and stripe prints, non-constricting dresses, sandals, my curling rod and every single piece of Kendra Scott jewelry I own.

I apologize in advance for the horrid hotel room lighting. These are post-edit, so you can only imagine how bad it actually was.

I wore this to dinner and drinks at JCT Kitchen. Great place!

ruffle top, high-waist jeanssandals (on sale for $33!)

I wore this easy, comfy outfit for a day of walking around Ponce City Market and the Beltline. So cool.

knotted dress, necklace, braceletlace-up sandals

I wore this to dinner and drinks at Bar Margot at the Four Seasons. LOVED it!

dress (on sale for $24!), earrings, sandals (on sale for $33!)

I wore this for the plane ride home. #Bedhead I would've loved to stay longer but unfortunately it didn't happen this time. The horrid lighting fails to show the awesome details on these jeans - great distressing and frayed cuffs.

IMG_4624.JPG

dolman tee (on sale!), instasculpt jeans, pink sneakers

The winner of the vitamin/surprise goodie giveaway is Courtney, and she's been emailed! Thanks to everyone who entered.

WHAT I ATE PASSOVER EDITION + A GIVEAWAY!

Howdy! I can't believe April is more than half over. This is a bit of a tough month for me with the anniversary of my mom's passing and some other things. It's left me with little desire to do anything other than work, workout, eat, snuggle with Winnie and sleep as much as possible. Now that the sun is shining and I've got some fun things on the horizon, my mood is beginning to pick up a bit. Plus, I've got a fun giveaway for you today so be sure to read this post all the way through!

I used to absolutely dread Passover. DREAD. I had no idea how to live a grain-free lifestyle and always said, "I'm going to keep it this year!" and I'd inevitably cave somewhere between days 3 and 5. Nowadays keeping Passover is a breeze!

(fleece, leggings, sneakers, bag)

I took these photos last Wednesday. I woke up around 6 for my first session. I had a little bit of water before I left home, but no food. A few hours later, I was done with my morning clients and ravenous! It was the perfect iced coffee day, warm and breezy out, but I needed something a little more substantial so I opted for an iced soy latte.

I got home and prayed Winnie would stay put while I ate a quick breakfast of Greek yogurt, berries and Paleonola. She loves when I have yogurt because I let her lick the remains of the bowl. I ate, we headed out and I sipped my latte on our walk.

After we got home from our walk/the pet store (#damnpetsareexpensive) Winnie played with her new toy (<--- highly recommend if you have a pup who loves to chew on things...) while I got some things done. At noon I crated her and I headed to the gym.

(cycling shoes, socks)

I met Perri and we took an indoor cycling class with a new-to-me instructor who was AWESOME. I didn't have a mid-morning snack and class really beat the crap out of me (I'm still a little shaky on my left ankle - especially when out of the saddle for long periods of time) so I was MORE than ready for lunch afterward!

I needed something on the quick side, so we went to Dishes and made salads. I love it there. So good!

I ran home to spend some time with Winnie before heading back to work for the rest of the day. The weather was nice so I grabbed a piece of homemade matza bark (white chocolate with crushed pistachio), leashed her up and we went to the park. 

When we got home I had just enough time to shower and freshen up before heading back to work for my last four clients of the day! Knowing I wouldn't eat dinner until about 9:00, I snacked on a Perfect Bar between sessions.

I came home hungry (shocker) and cooked up a quick dinner of a chicken sausage, one whole egg, and one egg white. I heated up some roasted veggies I made leftover from Seder on the side.

Now for the giveaway!

NDX is an all-natural, Non-GMO vitamin and supplement company that I'm client and fan of. I asked them if they'd be interested in doing a giveaway for you wonderful folks and they kind enough to send me a bottle of their Green Detox as well as a bottle of their Fiber DX to share with one lucky reader! Ben and I take (and love!) their Deep Sleep gummies, so I'm excited to share these products with one of you. I will also be throwing a handful of other surprise goodies into the package, so one of you is definitely in for a real treat!