Archive for April 2012

There is an idea that exists in regard to practice that is as follows: it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to truly become an expert. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not, I don’t know. I do know something though, practicing any task, skill, or action makes you more efficient and confident in execution of said task, skill, or action.

Take for example, the first time someone goes to the gym: swiping a  their key-card feels awkward and it takes fumbling to retrieve it from their gym bag, they didn’t realize Adidas Superstars were appropriate athletic footwear ten years ago, they are dazed and confused by the machines that look like they belong encased in titanium bulleting toward Mars at 1000 mph, and they are caught off guard by the grunting man chest-pressing and the scrawny guy in jeans hovering around waiting for them to finish their sets with the 15 pound dumbbells. After a few more trips to the gym this person automatically begins to swipe their card without hesitation and while greeting the front desk staff; their appearance confidently blends in (unless you’re like me, who feels the need to visually scream “I’m here!” with neon yellow running jackets, fluorescent Nikes, and/or blinding blue leggings when I enter the gym); they have a few favorite machines on which they feel the best burn; and “that guy at the gym” is just another guy at the gym.

My example of someone becoming comfortable with an action through repetition hopefully displayed that one can reach a state of confident execution with anything– be it a workout class, test-taking, healthfully navigating a buffet/dining hall, confronting people, interviewing, or working a job–almost anything.

As my freshman year of college is winding down and I am preparing to make some big changes in my life, I have been reflecting on the changes that I have made in from August until now: I started college; I had to practice SO MANY things to feel even remotely successful at being a college student, things like note-taking, dorm-living, paying attention, avoiding 12:30 dining hall traffic, sleeping in a noisy enviroment, studying, etc. I joined a sorority; practicing patience, self-control, open-mindedness, time management, and leadership help me still to work at being the best Delta Zeta sister I can be. I trained for a marathon; I am in my last week of training and had I not practiced preparing and running like I would on race-day I would be shaking in my Lunarglide 3+’s as I sit here, 6 days from 26.2 miles. And a huge, rewarding, change for me was becoming a fitness instructor; by seeking support in an amazing group of current and prospective instructors, watching YouTube videos of phenomenal fitness gurus, punching and kicking at 7 am in an empty study lounge, and constantly evaluating my own skills, I feel ready and confident in my decision to take on the task of instructing 4+  classes this summer in my home town. (If you are a reader in the Elkhart area, see my flyer below and please feel free to contact me with any questions. These classes will be great!) Practice hasn’t yet made perfect in any of these areas, nor will it ever–so I suppose my title was slightly misleading. Practice makes you better, it’s a catalyst in the process of you becoming your best self!

Three of my amazing sorority sisters and friends Michelle, Kelly, and Sophia who allowed me to practice my instructing skills on them. These girls are absolutely fitness buddy status and beyond! I love love love my Purdue Delta Zetas–they help me to become the best I can be in my every endeavor. You guys are amazing.

Since I started blogging it has become the joke amongst my close friends: Who will be AnnMarie’s next fitness buddy?

Will it be spaghetti-inhaling, pre-workout expert Garrett? Iron pumping, stair master Sophia? Calorie-counting cycle instructor John?

I have many, brilliantly fit friends who inspire me on a daily basis with their lifestyles tailored around healthy habits. However, today’s fitness buddy is extraordinary not for her limitless knowledge of proper nutrition or motivating spirit but rather for her desire to be inspired, her newly made healthy lifestyle changes, and for being my best friend in the entire world. Today’s fitness buddy is Elyse Eldridge.

“I’m a vegetarian now. I’m not even kidding.” “My legs are shot! I ran so much this week.” These are two texts that I recently received from Elyse that, had you asked me 6 months ago who these texts were from, Elyse would have been my absolute last guess out of everyone in my contacts. It is not often that I see someone make a total health-minded turn around as Elyse has in the past month.

About a month ago, she noticed that the food and fun inevitable in a college lifestyle were leaving her sluggish and out of shape. So she bought a pair of sweet Brooks running shoes and hit the pavement. She now runs to class, to see friends, and to just work up a good sweat in her down time. She even runs with me, something I couldn’t pay her to do for the entirety of our friendship (approx. 15 years). Then today, she tells me she read a brochure on animal cruelty and can’t eat meat anymore . Not only is a vegetarian diet proven to benefit the planet, the elimination of saturated fats found in animals is beneficial for cardiovascular functioning.

Starting a running/workout regimine and completely changing one’s diet are two extreme shifts in one’s lifestyle, and for Elyse to take on both of these challenges is admirable. I always thought that Elyse was admirable for her ability to talk to ANYONE, lighten ANY situation, and adapt to ANY enviroment, but never for her health habits–I am happy to say that I now admire her more than I ever have. I know that  if she keeps up with these positive changes that the positivity will spill into all other facets of her life.

Elyse makes me laugh, smile, cry, and now she makes me proud.

Keep up the good work champ.


I apologize if you were lured to this post with a hopeful heart that I had somehow discovered a way in which to add an extra hour to your 24 that always slip away. I can’t offer you a “Wrinkle in Time,” but I can offer you a fabulous reminder that summer is near!

The worst thing about my childhood was 8 o’clock bedtime (you heard me right, I didn’t have it too bad): the sun still pouring in around my shades as I was expected to stay in my bunk bed. It was so not fair. Today, I relish the fact that I can choose my own bedtime and take full advantage of the extra sunlight that blesses Indiana summer evenings.’

What could you do with these extra couple of hours? I have some suggestions:

  • Take a cool evening run without your mom insisting you take mace, a flashlight, and your dad on a bike.
  • Remain productive, knocking out your to-do list before the bonfire invites flood your inbox.
  • Get up early and practice some outdoor yoga, no one will be watching at 6 am–no one but your 80-year-old neighbors eating their half-grapefruit and berating the political newspaper articles
  • Siesta! or Fiesta! Whichever Spanish practice you want to indulge in, go ahead. The extra time in your day allows for extra rest and/or play.

Some of my favorite fit summer activities include:

  • Morning runs
  • Bike rides to the coffee shop
  • Climbing sand dunes
  • Walks with my parents
  • Pretending to be able to play tennis (great free date)
  • Roasting marshmallows (22 calories a piece and roasting is fun, offer to make them for all of your friends)
  • Reading fitness magazines on a lounge chair

Summer is only here for 3 months, soak it up!

Picture taken by my lovely roommate Giuliana Lucchesi

I have been on a bit of a mental health post kick lately–on a college campus with 31,000 undergrad, nearly half of whom are hormonal, body-conscious women, bashing of one’s natural physique is common place. Even more so now than I did in high school, I hear my friends and peers call themselves and others fat, deem every morsel they ingest as the devil, and obsess over the way they look every time they step out of their room. Where is the self-love everybody?

College is a stressful time. Papers, exams, interviews, jobs, and not to mention a social life that is complex to balance–who wouldn’t eat a little something off-track or miss a workout here and there?  It is one thing to be health conscious and body repectful, and another to drive yourself insane with calorie counts, scales, and “fat talk.”

Instead of berating yourself for that bowl of ice cream, promise yourself to sleep it off tonight by getting to bed a half-hour early, and sweat it out in the morning by getting up a half-hour early to squeeze in a quick workout. Or maybe it is one of those weeks where you have 3 exams and no time to concern yourself with bedtimes and workouts; although health should always remain your first priority (you cannot do ANYTHING without your health) shake it off and get studying. See? Obsessing just makes people sad and anxious, being content with yourself and your decisions takes an unnecessary stress off of your load.

Are you guilty of “fat talking”? Do you look in the mirror and call yourself ugly? Do you tell your friends your ugly? Don’t do it! Talking about being fat, wanting to be skinny, or the weights of others in a degrading manor does NOTHING. Doing something does something. If you are unhappy with your weight or health habits, change them, don’t sulk about wanting to change them. If you are concerned about the weight of a friend, eat a balanced diet around them, invite them to take part in realistic exercise with you. Don’t make fun of her, I know how it feels to be that girl. Check out my first two posts if you want to know more. Look in your mirror before leaving your room, and leave with confidence. You are amazing. And as for telling your friends you’re ugly…friends don’t pick ugly friends, so they will most certainly disagree with you.

Love yourself and so will everyone else!

Defensiveness is a barrier. A barrier between average and greatness. The defenses I am referring to are those instincts that trigger your instant rebuddle when someone says “Maybe you could’ve done this differently.”

We all do it, raise our guard at a first hinting that we might have made an error. But what if we didn’t? What if our first instict was rather, to open our hearts and our minds to the option of change, to the option of self-improvement?

I am a glutton for change; it inspires me, excites me, betters me. So, naturally, I have a love/hate relationship with constructive criticism-but mostly love. I enjoy having my running form corrected, my eating habits analyzed, and my overall personality explained. Of course it doesn’t feel awesome to hear that someone thinks I am less than the best, but how could I strive to be my best self without a little external help? External forces light internal fires.

Try listening more carefully to the world around you, Is someone begging you to better yourself? Why not take their advice? Sometimes, even if you disagree with their criticisms or advice, you may learn something from the way in which it was presented. Often, I plow through my day in the most unobservant fashion. This is a self-given critisim, I need to slow down and take in my surroundings. This will consequentially allow me to tune in to the voices of others. Taking feedback is a beautiful thing.

As you walk outside today, notice the change in scenery from a month ago: it is green, fresh, and beautiful. Allow that enviormental transformation to spark willingness within you to transform in whatever may need some transformation. Maybe your academic practices need some help, maybe your workout could be ramped up, maybe you don’t feel your best due to poor nutrition. Living in contentment is fine if you want to be average, but I hope that you don’t.

Fitness buddies have been few and far between in my posts these days, but today definitely called for the recognition of one: Katie Reines.

I met the ballerina-esque fitness instructor at a picnic for our major (Nutrition, Fitness, and Health) during one of my first days on Purdue’s campus. I was automatically enthralled with her when she announced that back home she worked at both a raw vegan restaurant AND  yoga studio.

“Who IS this girl?!” I thougth to myself. She was the definition of a friend I wanted: health obsessed, spirited, conscious, beyond average. And what a pleasent surprise it was when Katie showed up at our first Group X staff meeting she was a fitness instructor too!

I have since switched my major, but Katie and I remain friends through Group X

and our shared passions. She is the type of person who radiates positivity. Today, when all I really wanted to do was lay in my bed and watch “Dance Moms,” I forced myself to teach an energetic Turbo Kick class and stayed for Katie’s Dance Mania class that follows mine. My mood instantly turned around as we began warming up to “No Hands;” my smile grew as we aerobically ground (this is an “AnnMarie” way of saying “shook our hips with the intent of burning calories,” please feel free to use the term in your day-to-day conversation) to “Wild One;” my whole body felt more alive when Katie and I both added some skillful singing to our movements during “Call Me Maybe.” Her class rocks. That’s why she has one of the highest attendance rates in the Purdue Group X program, because I am not the only one who is inspired and lit up by Katie’s contagious cheer.

I love Katie’s workout attitude: balanced, excited, amazed; but the thing I admire most about Katie is her committment to perfect nutrition. This is where I put her on a bit of a pedestal: she is a fairly strict vegan and by no means a typical eater by any stretch of the imagination. Katie and I share our own private stash of kale at Windsor Dining Court (they keep it in the back for us) but I admittedly skip the kale at least one day a week in exchange for something less healthy. She eats gorgeous salads all the time adorned with flax seeds, banana peppers, tomatoes, practically the rainbow. Her meals are seamlessly perfect and I look to her for inspiration to keep my diet pure, healthy, and cruelty-free. Truth be told, I’ve often hit the dessert line at Windsor with the thought, “I hope Katie doesn’t see me  eating this!” Not that she would judge, belittle, or even say a word about what I chose to eat, the thought would simply be out of desire to be as cool as Katie with her ideal eating habits.

Katie Reines is a brilliant dancer, fitness instructor, eater, and friend; so for that, she is the perfect fitness buddy!

Although imitation remains the greatest form of flattery, it may be the quickest way to injury, exhaustion, and burnout when it comes to your personal wellness routine. One of the integral parts of becoming healthier and more fit is knowing yourself.

I read the title of my post last night in an article from Yoga Journal magazine. The article talked about a former hip-hop dancer who now owns two yoga studios where she instructs and encourages participants to “move like themselves” on the mat. By this she means, if you feel like dancing, dance; if you feel like holding a pose, hold it; do what’s right for you. I believe that the principle of moving like yourself can be applied to life on a larger scale in regards to taking part in activities that foster the growth of YOUR best self.

Personally, I know that I get cranky, bored, and frustrated when I have to play sports with balls: volleyball, softball, basketball–whatever it is, I don’t enjoy them. Therefore, these activities do not help me to grow as a person, in fact, they might prevent me from doing things that would help me grow because I will be wasting time or could (and probably will) get injured. Conversely, I almost always walk out of yoga, or return from a run with a more radiant glow. As much as I admire, star athletes and their dedication, I remain aware that I can have that same fierceness in my personal passions without adopting their specific foci.

Implement this notion in your own life by testing out different forms of exercise, tailoring it to your lifestyle and your prefererences; play by your own rules. Some example modifications to your own routine and reasons to modify are:

1) Combining a strength workout with cardio by means of intervals because you’re short on time of can’t stand the treadmill for more than 5 minutes.

2) Biking for an hour as opposed to running because your joints are sore.

3) Pulsing to the beat in Warrior II while practicing yoga to get an extra burn while feeling the beat.

4) Totally skipping a move in any fitness class because it causes you “bad pain.”

Moving on, the idea of moving like yourself should be the tagline of your diet, as well. Who wants to eat food that they condsider to be of poor quality or taste, I don’t. If I eat sugary, nonvegan, carbs I tend to “trash my day” meaning, overeat, become lethargic, and accomplish little to nothing. Therefore, I tend to avoid them more frequently than I give in to them because they don’t allow me to be my best self. Vegetables, shakeolgy, raw fruits, vegan protein like tempeh, and, yes, coffee leave me feeling alive and ready to conquer anything that comes my way.

Skip what you know will send you plummetting into a food coma and indulge in an extra serving of fruit or whatever will really get you going.

Life is about knowing your impact on the world around you and this starts with knowing yourself. So take the next few days and really examine your preferences. It will allow you to live rather than force life.

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