Confidence

There’s a woman at the gym that i cross paths with often. And by often i mean pretty much daily. Our daughters are similar in age. We both nursed until they were 2. She is so dedicated, constantly training. We talk in passing about her workouts, and in a non professional sense- i just listen usually because she has methods she likes to stick to. But she came to me a few months ago burnt the fuck out. Life & training had her down, and she wasn’t getting the results she wanted. I listened. And i said, you are someone else inspiration, take a break or make a change if you need it, but don’t you spend your time comparing yourself to someone else’s results. We parted ways and went back to our normal exchanges. Yesterday, as we swam with our girls out of coincidence, she made a point to thank me for my words. Because it helped remind her to keep going.

Confidence is something we build from the inside. It’s not in a high heel or a new lipstick or perfect arms. It’s in you. Your light shining through. No one else’s. We are all so different and it needs to be embraced, not fought.

Upside down life

Our world turned upside down last June. It’s been almost a year and i am overwhelmed with emotions. Grief is so consuming. My heart is broken for the loss in our family. I am sad and so very angry. My husband will never be the same. I’m overcome by selfish pain because my focus has been to care for my husband and sweet girl. As we come up on the anniversary, i am so filled with fear. Of losing my own husband. I spoke this weekend with a dear friend about how fucked up it is that i would never fear to lose him to another woman, but instead to the hands of death. I need him here. I still don’t understand how any of it has happened. I want to write a book called The Outsiders Grief. My loss is nothing compared to my sister in law, my mother in law, my husband, his sister. But it is here. It is a weight that flipped the world upside down. My daughter won’t know one of the most wonderful men I’ve ever met. I want to lay on the floor for a week. I want to turn back time more than anything. But i can’t. And it so consuming. Maybe if i wrote the book this summer, it would allow me some peace. A cathartic release about this journey. Life will never be the same. But i have to do something. I cannot sit and let it fester. Our lives have got to continue forward. Our marriage has become stronger. We have learned to speak, to understand, to ask for what we need. To give each other space but still hold on so tightly. It’s so consuming right now. I keep feeling like i am on a train track running next to the rest of the family- trying to keep mine running smoothly (and struggling to) while i race along next to them. I can see them all struggling as well, but i never have the right words. Are there “right” words after death? Is there any salve to calm such an extensive hurt. We have the ability to be so thankful that we were given the chance to know someone so wonderful. To carry them with us. To honor them. My donut obsession is an homage to my grandfather who made my life so wonderful. He died over 15 years ago and i still cry for the loss. That was a different kind of traumatic death. Not like this. This is different. Being a wife, a sister, a daughter in law is a journey in itself. But to struggle through loss and never feel like you know how to act or know what to say is….. something that drives my anxiety to a point where my body feels electrified. I will continue to do my best. To breathe. To find ways to be there, and care in my own way. Even if it feels like I’m on the outside of the window…. somehow it’s raining on both sides, and it feels like my umbrella just won’t open right now. The best i can do is the best i can do. I’m sending love to those falling through grief, struggling to breathe. Get up again, find joy after the tears. Let the water wash away the pain and then honor the life. Keep going.

May challenge

It’s May first! I’m using it as a chance for a fresh start. Tomorrow, I will not only make food for my daughter. I will do more than drink coffee. Even if I’m not feeling well (I don’t usually do well in the morning with food) I will make myself a smoothie. I will get myself to eat and eat healthy foods. They are right here in the house. There is no reason I care for everyone else and then just leave myself to the wind. I deserve to be cared for too. So that’s what this is about. This challenge is to better care for yourself. If your long term goal is to lose weight, maybe that means you choose to eat out less during this challenge. Or drink less alcohol. One big thing? Get some better sleep. No laying in bed with the TV on or your phone being checked. Let your body have some down time this month. Be kind to yourself! Don’t worry, I want you to choose to workout too- so if that’s where your motivation is lacking, make that part of your month. Let your choices be driven by your hopes and goals. Take a picture of yourself today. Send it to me. When the challenge is over, we are going to compare the people, the one you were, and the one you became through better habits, and more happiness.

Kettle bell workout

Little total body for the calorie burn but the focus is on the booty and thighs.

Curtsy with curl and press x10

Plié (2 pulses) with single arm row x10

Curtsy with curl and press x10 on the other side

Plié (2 pulses) with single arm row x10 on the other side

Kettle bell swing x60 seconds

Heel Lifts x30 seconds

Pulses x30 seconds

(Give yourself an active rest with some nice inchworms or V ups)

Do it again, 3x.

Go!

Barre arms

You have so many options when it comes to barre arms. Here are the main sticking points though. Keep your weights between 1 & 3 lbs. Tiny movements or long series are meant for tiny weights, save the bigger weights for the big movements and longer rest breaks. I’m demonstrating 3 different positions you can use so that you a. Up your calorie burn, b. Don’t get bored, c. Keep the whole body working.

Start with push ups.

5 slow with wide hands, knees on the floor is totally acceptable.

5 regular count with wide hands.

5 tight hand/Pilates position so that elbow scrape your ribs.

5 with hands in diamond.

I’m happy to pst another video a different day to demonstrate.

Kneeling:

Knees should be fist distance apart and parallel. Toes can be curled under if it’s more comfortable to you. As you add in the lift and lower of the hips like I demo, you should be imagining your back sliding down a wall- your hips tuck under on the way down to keep them under your shoulders as best you can.

Parallel Chair:

Use the wall to slide yourself down so your hips are one inch above knee height, or as close as you can keep. Feet can be hip distance or zipped up. Heels high. Tuck your hips and press your low back into the wall.

Wide Second:

Walk your feet wider than your hips. Feet turned out toward 45 degrees (not a full turnout) so that heels are right under knees. Lower your hips down to knee height.

If one lower body option doesn’t work for you, try another. If you can do a little of each, do a little of each. If you can only do some arms with weights, do it. If you can’t do any? Focus on where the movement in coming from instead! Engage your body. Guess what? The push ups are just a suggestion. If they also don’t work for you- switch it up! These are options. Ways for you to play with your workouts. Want an exact workout to follow? Message me. I’ll make it happen. XO

Begin again. Always begin again.

As I lay here on a Sunday night, a basket of laundry in my peripheral vision calling me (very quietly) to put it away (I never really do) with SVU back on the tube, I reflect on the last two years of my life. They have been no doubt the best, and also that worst of my life. Tonight, at dinner, my sweet Rowan turned to me and said, “Daddy saved you, didn’t he, Mommy?” I blinked. And then said yes baby, I think he did. We have been keeping each other going. Quietly. Slowly. We have spent the last two years trying to get settled. Ive had a million reasons not to write or reach out. I’ll share them all, eventually.

Recently, I realized I need to start looking outward. I’ve taken the better part of the past year to just focus inward. On my child, my husband, myself. I changed my position at work so that I could keep my tunnel vision. It was what I needed to do right then. For my body too. A few weeks ago, my mind came back. It started to work again. Ideas. Passion. Like something broke back open.

Here I am. Beginning again.

My name is Irish. I’m a 33 year old Harry Potter addict who works out on the side. No but seriously. I have been a personal trainer, yoga, Pilates & barre instructor for over ten years. Teaching is my happy place. It’s how I share light (and pain) with those I love. My clients become my friends, my family. I want to share that with you too.

I will be posting workouts. Sometimes 5 minutes of stretching, like today. To be kind to yourself. Because no matter what your fitness goals, that is so very important. I cannot tell you how much kindness & happiness can change the body. Kindness to yourself, and happiness in your body will alter your appearance. You will read my rants about this.

Sometimes I will post challenges. Ways to push yourself, to find creativity in your workouts to keep your mind alive, and your body progressing.

Sometimes, like today… I’ll be thinking about the need to begin again. To have the courage to keep beginning again. No matter what. It’s ok to take time when you need it. Pause. For minutes, days, months…but you have to begin again. You have to wake up and try again.

My name is Irish. I have anxiety, chronic migraines and nerve damage in my left shoulder. I am hyper-mobile in many of my joints and have been working for years to find the correct way to workout to care for myself. I’ve taken this search for knowledge, this search, and translated it to helping others. The greatest majority of my clients who see me in person, come to me for help with pain. Pain management tends to be like a puzzle. Each piece has to be found and put together the right way to find relief. I pride myself in being part of the puzzle for so many.

My pain also helps me see the world a little differently. Perspective is so very important. My anxiety skews it from time to time…but the workouts help.

My name is Irish, I love donuts, perusing the ‘we made too much’ section of Lululemon, drinking too much iced coffee and leaving cupboard doors wide open so that it looks like a crazy person has been in my kitchen always.

I started teaching because I liked the workouts and benefits of yoga and Pilates, but I could not find anyone who had a message that resonated with me. The explanation of how my body was supposed to find what it needed was….. lacking. There was not enough. I wanted more. Different. So that’s what I became. I became the instructor I was looking for. I teach classes that are meaningful to me.

This life is meaningful to me. I’m not a super nice person. I’m not a cheer leader. My teaching style has been rebellious, and sometimes compared to a dominatrix. I don’t have all the answers. I’m on a quest to find them and share each one.

A body not my own…

Those of you with children know the struggle of the post partum life. You worked to grow a baby & your body feels foreign the entire time- then the baby arrives & you try to figure out how to “feel like yourself again”. Physically, emotionally- a giant mess! Your body feels like it’s made of bread dough, & your mind is so scattered it’s hard to breathe some times. My favorite as a breast feeding mom is how often I wake up & think I had been holding her- I search the bed covers frantically before realizing she is safely in her bassinet.

My journey through pregnancy was tough- not a single thing went as I had hoped besides the very end result of a healthy happy beautiful girl coming into the world. I can’t talk about her birth without crying. It will forever be a source of such intense fear- I thought I was going to lose her forever. I considered myself very healthy before pregnancy- I learned quickly that means jack shit during pregnancy- your body has a mind of its own, it’s run by hormones & a placenta that don’t know your plans or your life before. At 19 weeks, I was put on a week of bed rest for an infection that left me in unbearable pain. At 20 weeks? I ended up with gestational diabetes. I sobbed- what did I do wrong? How do I control this? Relatively easily it turns out! Unless you count in pregnancy cravings- which no one ever does. My blood sugar was picture perfect the entire pregnancy. I started contractions from another infection around 30 weeks- and that’s when they started noticing my blood pressure rising. That’s what got me on the induction train. Choo choo! No more water birth I had hoped for and all the weekly monitoring no one wants. I started labor at 37 weeks but didn’t dilate enough- I was sent home to hope my body would push itself all the way into labor. I tried everything, all the old wives tales. I couldn’t work. I could barely take a daily walk or sleep for that matter. At 38 weeks it was go time. Full induction. We were to arrive at the hospital at 7am and get the ball rolling the rest of the way. If you have been lucky enough to have a vaginal birth that kick started on its own, you have no idea the torture devices that exist to try to open a woman’s cervix! My poor husband had to watch the dr dig around up there so many times and hold my hand while I tried to be brave as relative strangers shoved their arms in up to their elbow. At around 10pm we were on a roll, I was dilated to 5! They decided to reach up there with a glorified crochet hook & see if they could get my water to break and move this show a little further along. By midnight- My water had broken, I was in horrible pain & exhausted. I started being monitored a little more closely- through every complication my baby girl had never faultered- her heartbeat remain a steady source of comfort for me, no matter what, I wasn’t a failure because she was fine. And then she wasn’t. All the sudden the nurses started prepping me for surgery as my dr said I’m sorry, I know this is so far from your plan but we are losing her. She has to come out now, if we wait…. Why would I wait? Why would we even chance that we wouldn’t get to keep her in this world? 15 mins later, I had a beautiful baby next to my head as I cried- is she ok? Please tell me she is ok! My poor poor husband. He repeated it as many times as my drug induced self needed to hear. She was better than ok. She was perfect. Tiny at just 5lb 9oz- but perfect. They found that her cord had been too small, that’s why she wasn’t growing more, why I felt so sick near the end, and why we started to lose her after the cushion of the amniotic fluid was gone.

In recovery, my husband helped me to breast feed. Laying there covered in tubes after they had to put me out completely to stop my shaking long enough to close my csection…. I couldn’t get her to latch on my own. I’ve never loved my husband more, or had something mean so much to me. Finally, something I planned had worked! I could do this! My body fought me on being pregnant, but I was born to be a mom. I quickly found that I was able to move much better than most after a csection. My blood pressure stayed high- with all the visits from Drs & nurses, I couldn’t rest. I convinced them to let me go home only about 48 hrs after her birth. My blood pressure on release was around 145/94. I went to the dr the very next day for both of us to be checked, it was down to 122/79. I was a new girl!

Fast forward a week and my incision was infected. I couldn’t feel it so I was doing too much. I didn’t want to nap, I didn’t want to ask for help- my body could do so much, I wasn’t in pain. After an er visit, and a week of 4x a day antibiotics, and being told to cool it, I was back on track. Right? Wrong. Fast forward another week or so to so much more blood being lost & my incision looking infected again, I went back to the surgeon. Not an infection he says! You’re allergic to the dissolvable stitches and your body is trying to show them out of your belly. He likened it to a zit. Nothing to do but keep it clean and let it happen he said. Thank the lord I could stop the antibiotics that were killing my stomach. But at 6 weeks post partum I was told to only walk. My incision was still so inflamed, my bleeding still so heavy- I needed to heal physically before I could try to get stronger- or to me, heal mentally.

So much of my identity as a trainer & instuctor is in my body. It’s abilities, its strength- my confidence. It’s 7 weeks now. Rowan June is more beautiful every day. And I feel more hideous. Less like myself mentally & physically than I’ve ver been. We walk every day. My weight is less than it was when I got pregnant. But my figure….. Is awful. I know it will come back. I know I need to be healthy first. But my frustration in being in a body that is not my own has never been higher. I know this is temporary. I have time to get stronger before I go back to work, and can continue after. But for now? I am struggling. My focus stays on my health & on my joy- my beautiful girl.

Trying Gluten-Free (Again)

It’s no secret that our bodies change with age. We grow, wrinkle, slouch, gain aches and pains, grow hair where we don’t want it… Time can be cruel. But that’s just to our outsides really. Recently, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about the havoc gluten can wreak on a seemingly innocent victim. Aches, pains, swelling, headaches, blurred vision, stomach issues and migraines just to name a few. Very similar to the side effects of aspartame, which if you haven’t given up yet, I urge you strongly. I am not a nutritionist, I am not a dietician. I am a person living with chronic pain who has sought the advice of experts in this field. I am currently on day 2 of living without gluten. My words don’t come together the way I want, but otherwise I am feeling quite well. I had been on a hard stint of pain that escalated after a meal heavy in gluten. I believe it’s time to try again. I have done this before without any result, but I believe our bodies our constantly evolving. Certain foods become harder to process, either due to age, too many preservatives or just because it plain doesn’t want to anymore. Share with me your story. Tell me what you changed in your diet that made the difference, whether it is in pain, irritability, discomfort or aesthetics (sometimes leaving something out of your diet allows you to finally process food the right way instead of storing it). Did a book lead you to it? Wheat belly or the China Study perhaps?

 

No fun allowed

So a few weeks back I had a really awful pain flare up. Since my usual tricks of ice, rest, and lots of biofreeze/icyhot/tiger balm weren’t working, I went for acupuncture. I love acupuncture. It feels like it releases energy out of my body that is otherwise trapped and causing pain. This was my first visit to a new acupuncturist, and she recommended some new supplements and to cut out all caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol. That was easy for me to remember because in my mind that equals no fun. I do pretty well with avoiding these things, especially when my pain is high. Occasionally though, I want to be normal. I want a cup of coffee without fear that it won’t cause my nerves to react so strongly I can’t turn my head from the pain. I want to have a beer in hopes for a normal sized hangover. I don’t care much for sugar so that isn’t a terrible, I can get over that. But I love coffee. I adore a glass of whiskey out on the patio with Jon.

 

It’s strange though, I used to use caffeine to help ward off the headaches. One of my medications even has it in it. Now that I’ve been off it for a few weeks, I feel so sensitive to it that I can’t decide if I should go back. How long should I have no fun?? My neck and shoulder are better but my head is worse. If anyone has advice, I would love to hear it.