Circumnavigation-to travel all the way around something like an island or a planet.
Circumduction-the circular movement of a limb.
Circles-what my head may be doing when I return from this month-long trip! Pennsylvania, Italy, Japan, Pennsylvania. Then I start all over again in September!
With a little over a month to go before I jet off again for a softball adventure, Team Italy is getting its’ ducks in a row. The athletes have been competing in the Italian Softball League (ISL), and hitting the weight room hard. I cannot wait to see how far they have come and work with the pitchers once again. I have been proud of their fight, and their progress so far. What you do not see behind the scenes, is just how much hard work is put into their competition. Ragazze FORZA!
With such a long time away from my babes and family, the process of travel for me starts months in advance, given we still need childcare. With my softball professional life moving forward in a big way (more later!), and my fitness life taking off (more later!) the stress (good anxiety) is now, but when I get onto the plane, I can finally relax a bit. Maybe write a little more, and read a few books on those long plane flights!
My goal for this blog into the summer months, is to keep you updated here as much as possible as I travel. Facebook and Instagram do not always do the extent of this adventure justice! My friends, this is a wild and awesome ride! Thanks for reading!
I suppose that some things are an acquired taste, like wine, or running (lol). I never suspected that my own yoga practice would be the very same way. I have said before that I am a team sport athlete. I have always thrived in an environment where I had other like-minded people supporting me, every pitch, every inning, every weights session, every early morning run. It was easy to get better and to push when I could compete with and support those around me. At times, if I got lost I could follow the lead of my teammates to get back on track.
When I began seriously practicing yoga on my own a few years ago, I was confronted with feelings of being lost and inadequate. I was lost amongst the Sanskrit.
Where do I start? Is there a starting point?
What do I do?
What do I want to do?
What should I do?
Where do I look for more answers? Who can help me?
I had been confronted with these questions before when I transitioned from college softball to pro softball in Italy, but I at least had an extensive background and guidance in all things softball to know most of the answers to these questions. Back then, it was a matter of finding the right equipment and a location. With my yoga beginning, I had a mat, a strap, a block, and no idea what poses were named nor what in the actual F they meant or how the Mind/Body connection worked in yoga, not to mention the breathing, which seemed counterintuitive to my own performance training.
It was a rocky beginning. The mat collected dust while I searched for a class and an instructor that spoke to me. I looked for something that could connect to me the way Spinning, softball, and weight lifting had. I understood intensity with those modalities. I understood progressions and alignment after years of softball and weight rooms. Yoga looked so pretty and fun, so why in the hell did I loathe every class?
I went weeks and months without going to classes or practicing. I had nearly given up, when I spied a few people exiting an advanced class at a gym where I taught Spinning. They were sweaty (drenched really), they were happy, they were doing handstands, SWEET MOTHER!!!! That is the class for me! I waltzed into the class the next week, painfully early (I am still painfully early to all classes), and rolled out my mat. I even warned the instructor that I had no idea what I was doing but I liked her style. Little did I know that from that class onward, yoga was going to take me on a wild ride through a fantastic 200 hour teacher training with a friend and respected teacher as my guide.
But all of that did little to help me find my way to a consistent and loved personal practice. I depended on my teachers to move me forward. I WAS, AND STILL AM NOT CALLED TO MY MAT for my own personal benefit. There, I said it! GASP!! A YOGA TEACHER JUST ADMITTED TO STRUGGLING WITH HER PRACTICE!!! I do not long for my mat. With all of the craziness in my life, and the group fitness and softball that I teach and plan for, rolling myself out of bed (sleep is “MY PRECIOUS”) and down to my office/studio for a sweat session just does not happen.
Do you know what does call me to my mat? TEACHING. The class participants. YOU. The more I teach, the more I want to know. The more I know, the more I hit the mat. The more the students respond and give me feedback, the harder I work for them. Each class becomes a puzzle piece. Each person in class has become a part of my team. My personal practice thrives because I found a way to make it a TEAM SPORT. I changed how I saw my practice. Not SOLO. A Team Sport Yoga Practice! YOLO!!! There may be a day that I can get to the mat for my own personal benefit. But my love language has always been one of service, motivation, and lifting others up. For now, I am going with it.
All of this brought me to this question: How do you come to your mat? In a broader group fitness and health sense, how do you come to the gym? Go for a run? Eat the way your doctor says? When there is an activity that you know you should do for your own benefit, but it doesn’t immediately speak to you, how do you make it matter and a worth while endeavor? We all have those things we SHOULD be doing, so knowing what you know about yourself, how can you change your perspective and make them happen?
I have not felt well since January. I was tired, stressed, unable to concentrate, and sluggish. I began to suspect my eating as potentially the problem. When March hit, in conjunction with a “Mindful March,” initiative, I decided to take action and be mindful of my eating, and to attempt to observe without judgment what was really going on. I describe my approach to mindfulness as “It is, what it is.”
For two weeks, I wrote down everything I was eating without ANY eating plan or modification. I didn’t edit no matter how painful or how much I wanted to blur the lines. I wrote the truth AND LET IT BE. Then when I was ready, I sat down with myself and read what I had wrote. Once I pulled myself out of self-loathing and very loud UNMINDFUL slew of judgment and curse words that followed my initial shock (I committed every eating plan error in the rule book), I told myself “OK, it is, what it is. Take a deep breath. Now what do I do with the information that I have?”
Right here was a moment of truth. Since January, I had had the flu, shingles (holy cow shingles are no joke!), a nasty viral infection complete with diarrhea, lost my voice from a second viral infection, and two rounds of medication. I was ready to feel better, and when my body felt out of control, I knew I could control what I put into it.
MINDFULNESS TAKES MOXIE. GRIT. HONESTY. TRUE MINDFULNESS in my case SPURRED ACTION. I needed to see the truth. I was ready to see the truth. I was ready to talk about the truth. I was ready for change. I HAD TO BE COMPLETELY SURE OF REALITY BEFORE MOVING FORWARD. I am a team sport athlete. I needed friends. I needed accountability. So I consulted with my doctors. I consulted with a few trusted fitness and health industry friends. Then, I went back over what I had written with a new sense of calm and with my fitness and health hat on.
What was necessary in my diet?
What could I really do without?
What did I need (both healthfully and mentally)?
What absolutely had to go?
Then I moved forward with my own plan of being 80% good. I do not expect perfection with any of my athletes nor with my class participants, so how could I expect perfection with my eating? It is not realistic. I know every day I need a little slice of heaven (Lenny and Larry cookie, a small bit of cheese, glass of wine, or hummus) I continued to track my eating and to modify once I identified something that no longer fueled me. Then I asked myself, WHAT ELSE FUELS ME? So I took it a step further and I started doing the activities and workouts that I enjoy and that I know are sustainable for me, and my crazy travel schedule (yoga, running). Forewarning: if this time next year I am signing up for my first marathon, someone SLAP ME! Then line up at the finish line to slap my hand, because I AM NOT A RUNNER!
Here now, at the end of April, my numbers are staggering. My resting heart rate has dropped 12 points and I am 15.4 pounds lighter than I was March 1. I am still going strong. Those numbers are nice, but the biggest change that I was after was to FEEL better, that is my barometer. I am there.
I have to ask you now: What are you ready to see more clearly? What fuels you? Where in your life are you ready for change? What can you do about it? Maybe MINDFULNESS and MOXIE will get you there? I am here.
I want to update everyone on my Mindful March…it has been a doozie to say the least! The minute I decided to look at my eating and see it for what it was in an effort to feel better, I came down with shingles (they are no joke!!). Then we had a lice outbreak in our house and had to basically throw out and clean out. Then somewhere between a sinus infection, antibiotics, a stomach virus, and an allergic reaction (when it rains it pours), I had to finally break down and laugh. It is what it is. Life happens. Sickness happens. Hence the delay in ANY form of update, anywhere. I feel like there is a lesson in all of this for me. Through all of it, I kept my dedication to mindfully observe my eating and gear myself toward a plan that will help me feel better.
I spent the first few days of March generally operating as usual as far as my food choices, but taking a second before putting whatever it was into my body, noticing what it was and the method I took to decide on the particular piece of food. For example, when the kids didn’t finish all of their pretzels and I was ready to finish them for fear of wasting food, I took notice of how many times I mindlessly ate what was leftover of theirs and then made my own additional food. I jotted all of this down, to get a very real and blunt sense of what EXACTLY I was eating day to day. I didn’t sugar coat, I didn’t edit, I didn’t pretend to have it altogether. As objectively as possible, I wrote the truth.
THEN, after a week or so, I looked at what I had wrote…
Holy cow, The thoughts careening through the halls of my brain amounted to everything I tell athletes in training:
WATCH THE SNACKING.
DRINK HALF YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN WATER IN OUNCES EVERYDAY.
BEWARE OF MINDLESS EATING.
EAT THE RAINBOW (NOT SKITTLES. VEGGIES people…veggies).
TRACK YOUR FOOD SO YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE EATING.
LIMIT ADDED SUGAR.
EAT YOUR CALORIES, DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES.
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH, AND ON AND ON AND ON. And then immediately following that onslaught, I began to judge myself (very Unmindfully and with no amount of calm or acceptance).
YOU ARE IN FITNESS AND THE HEALTH INDUSTRY!
YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE EXAMPLE! HOW COULD YOU GO THIS FAR AWAY FROM WHAT YOU KNOW AND BELIVE IN?!
My brain was beating me to a bloody pulp. It had to stop. No matter what my rationale for not sticking to my eating plan was previously, it was time for me to think deeper about my health and where I wanted to be. So, I took a deep breath…(OK MANY DEEP BREATHS).
“I am ready for a change,” I said quietly.
“I am ready to feel good,” I said louder, “And, I need help!”
I started with fitness friends I trusted not to sugar coat, nor to judge. They have helped me with accountability and consult. I consulted with my doctor about my eating struggles, and my anxiety about food (I NEVER talked TO ANYONE about what I honestly ate or drank). Mindfulness brought me to this place, now I had to take action and be honest with myself along the way.
In honor of a "Mindfulness March" theme, I have decided to hit on something close to my being.
FOOD. And how I eat FOOD. Food is very personal to me. It is hard for me to talk publicly about FOOD, and it's consumption by me, but I feel like I need a change, so I need to try something I have never tried before! Most of the time after eating, I feel gross. I hate what I have eaten, or what I chose not to eat. I want to look at my own eating and how I eat with a clear mind, without judgement, and honestly look at what I can do to help myself FEEL better. Notice how I didn't say LOOK better. I don't mind how I look. I mind how I feel. Feel free to share. I am not interested in losing a ton of weight, or even what the number on the scale says. I want to notice trends, feelings, and really THINK about what I am putting into my body!
Here we go!
I have been given the distinctly high honor of coaching for the Italian National Softball Team as their pitching coach. Italy is a part of my heritage (I am an Italian dual-citizen) and my heart. It has been a mainstay in my thoughts and actions for many years. From the first moment I set foot in Naples in 2005, I could feel there was something special about being in this country and being one of its’ citizens. I would argue that many travelers feel the same after visiting Italy. This is a country where at every corner there is a whiff of “stop and smell the roses,” as well as a jolt of “hurry up and drive there fast!” Opposing, conjoining, melding and mixing forces that entice travelers and leave a burned, pizza-flavored impression on one’s heart. Italy’s food, traditions, people, softball teams, history, art and culture has NEVER disappointed me, even when I have disappointed it. It has stood behind me, forgiven me, praised me, burned me to the ground, and built me back up. I owe so much to these people.
Italy has a new Italian Baseball and Softball Federation President, Andrea Marcon, and a new national team head coach, Enrico Obletter. Enrico has been my friend and coach since 2005. Then, I was happy to have a pitching coach with the national team who spoke my language (both English and pitching!). Since then, we have won 2 national championships, a Cup Italia, a European championship, and competed in several international professional tournaments together. I trust the national team is in good hands with his guidance.
We are working toward qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, which is no small task no matter what part of the world you should live and play. Building a team and developing talent takes years, and we have no choice but to be competitive NOW! This is a fast moving train, but the vision we have is clear: Build Italian softball to international power. Every decision we make is to firm Italy’s place among the stars. Follow the dream on this blog, and through my Facebook page. I am sure there will be many updates!
I am happy to announce I will be teaching at the State College Yoga Lab and at PYP (Power Your Possibilities) this coming spring! I am beyond pumped to be reaching a different set of the State College community and to have 2 new teams of instructors and management to learn from! I respect and promote all the studios and gyms I am associated with and love a new endeavor! I hope to bring even more exciting announcements to this blog.
Hey friends, keep moving, keep smiling, keep breathing, and eat your veggies (they cost less).
I have been hired. By a yoga studio. I love this yoga studio. I love these people. In fact, I am honored to be part of such a fantastic group of people. Why did they choose me? My plan is to make sure they keep me. Especially since they have now forced me to create a website that I should have created many moons ago! Thank you for making my procrastination so very clear to me and forcing me into something that is good for me! I hope to bring yoga and group fitness updates, softball world travel adventures, and random motivations to this site and this blog. But my procrastination and my children come first!!! Ha! Hey friends, keep moving, keep smiling, and eat your vegetables (they cost less).