Monday, August 14, 2017

In Defense of Zumba

At the time I am writing this, I have taken exactly two Zumba classes in my entire 39 years on this planet. So I am clearly not a seasoned expert in this type of exercise. But regardless of my lack of experience in Zumba, I feel compelled to share my thoughts, because I think a lot of people disregard these classes and in doing so, they are totally missing out on the fun.

I know many people who are true Zumba enthusiasts: they teach it, breathe it, live it, and love it. These friends own Zumba footwear and Zumba clothing and they are Zumba-tastic at Zumba-ing. I myself had always wanted to try it (I absolutely love to dance) but felt completely intimidated to even sign up, never mind walk into a class. I’m not even sure why – I took dance as a young girl and can actually count and move on time to a beat. Truthfully, I think it was just my fear of the unknown scaring me off; that and I just didn’t know how I’d measure up to all those Zumba enthusiasts out there – I didn’t want them to think I was some kind of Zumba poser

But then a friend of mine (one of the non-Zumba enthusiasts) who has similar coordination and athletic abilities as me, asked me to join her for a Zumba class. I figured now was my chance to give it a shot, because humiliating myself with a friend seemed a lot less terrifying than doing so by myself.

In the few times I have taken any type of dance class as an adult, I always feel like I can relate to Jennifer Grey’s character Baby in the movie Dirty Dancing. When she’s first learning to dance she is completely distracted by everyone else around her, letting the people who are more experienced and more expressive intimidate her. She also feels a lot of frustration when trying to understand and learn various dance moves throughout the movie. When I first started  Zumba class, that was totally me. I wanted to get every move right on the first try (kind of hard to do when you are a newbie) and not being able to do so made me feel like a Zumba failure. Why was everyone else getting it and not me? (By the way, this was all an illusion – I was not in a room full of professional dancers, they were all regular people like me, sometimes getting the moves, sometimes not. But in my perfectionist head, everyone around me looked like Gene Kelly and I felt completely out of sync).

Then I remembered something the teacher said when she first introduced herself to me at the beginning of class: “This class is what you make it. Even if you don’t get it right away, just keep moving, and most importantly – have fun! Getting the steps right isn’t as important as enjoying the exercise.”  So I took a deep breath, stopped looking at the people dancing around me, and just let my body move to the music. And you know what? It was fun! Once I stopped overthinking it, the dancing came easier to me. And even when I missed a step or two, I just kept going - and it really felt good.

At the beginning of Zumba, this was me:



“I carried a watermelon”.


Then by the end of my second class, I was here:



Okay, not quite. But after completing two classes, I definitely started to get the hang of it and I learned a little something about getting out of my own head and having fun. It wasn’t “the time of my life”, per se, but I really enjoyed it and got a good sweat on.


So if you love dance and are looking for a new and fun way to get a full body cardio workout, I highly recommend Zumba. And don’t be intimidated by the Zumba enthusiasts out there, learn from them – they are the best leads to follow when you fall out of step in class. And here’s the biggest secret of all – they are having the most fun, because that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I'm Going Over The Edge


I saw the above quote posted on social media today and I thought, "wow, that is so deep, and so true." Then I looked it up (because when I see a great quote, I obviously want to know its source) and I discovered that this is a quote from the TV show One Tree Hill. 😩

No offense to One Tree Hill but I was kind of hoping this quote came from a more meaningful place. I never even watched the show when it was on. Oh well. The quote still speaks to me and I like it.

Regardless of where this quote hails from, its appearance on my Facebook newsfeed is very timely. You see, I was just given the incredible opportunity to participate in the 2017 New York City Marathon, taking place just 15 weeks from now. Um, what?!

On a whim, I applied for a race bib through the North Shore Animal League America, a non-profit animal shelter that is the world's largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization. If accepted, I would have the chance to run the NYC Marathon and raise money for this very worthy cause. As an animal lover and an ongoing supporter of NSALA over the past couple of years, I decided to take a chance and reach out to them about getting an entry into the one marathon I have wanted to participate in for many years. So imagine my surprise when a representative from NSALA contacted me yesterday, letting me know that if I wanted to do some fundraising for them, I would be able to run in the NYC Marathon!

As I mentioned previously, the marathon is happening in 15 short weeks. Fifteen weeks might not seem like a short amount of time for some people, but for a person who needs to train for a full marathon and raise $3,000 - believe me, it's short. Initially when I received the email from NSALA with their offer, I was torn. Can I train in just 15 weeks? Am I able to raise money for such an important cause? Do I have the confidence to pull all of this off? I decided to sleep on it and give myself 24 hours to make my decision.

When I woke up this morning, I made a pro and con list to help me decide - and the pattern was obvious: all of the pros were about how badly I wanted to do this (the fundraising and the training) and how great it would be if I did, and all of the cons were about how worried I was that I wouldn't be able to pull it off.

Then, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw two things that helped me make my decision: the first was the quote at the top of this blog post. It forced me to ask myself, "If not now, when?" I could wait another year, but why wait if I have the chance now?

The second thing I saw on Facebook that spoke to me this morning was an image of my husband's aunt rappelling down a 22 story building in Boston. Someone captured a photo of her as she gracefully glided down the side of a building, you guys! This woman fearlessly participated in the "Over the Edge" rappel to support the Special Olympics of Massachusetts and even though I think she is totally nuts for doing this, I am one hundred percent impressed and inspired by her bravery. As soon as I saw that photo of her, I made my decision: I am going to go for it. I'm going over the edge, too! I mean, not literally - I would never climb down a building. But I will run another marathon and do so for a very worthy cause.

Holy crap, I am running in the NYC Marathon in 15 weeks!

You never know where your inspiration will come from. It could come from a One Tree Hill quote. It could come from a relative rappelling down the side of a building. It could come as an offer from an amazing non-profit organization that saves animals lives every single day. Whatever it is, seize it. Because someday is today, and this is your life. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My First Ever 26.2

The image shared above is a Facebook status I posted 7 years ago this week. I'll confess, I am sharing this historical social media update smugly because two months ago I completed a full marathon (my first ever) and it only took 3 days for me to recover. So what I am saying is that I ran 26.2 miles earlier this year and then 3 days later I felt perfectly fine. What? How is that even possible? Seven years ago I was a much younger gal but in this case, youth does not matter. I might be older now, but I am better trained and a lot smarter when it comes to taking care of my body.

At age 39, I can say with confidence that I am a faster, stronger, and more determined runner than I was 7 years ago. In my younger years I easily accepted defeat and lacked self confidence; the girl I was 7 years ago would never have considered training for a full marathon. I am proud of the woman I have grown into and I am not even sorry it took me this long to realize my potential. Isn't that the point of life after all? To take the journey and learn from it? And I continue to learn more every single day.

My experience running the Walt Disney World Marathon in January was, for lack of a better word, awesome. It was the longest and most difficult run I have ever completed and it was also the best run I have ever had. When I got to the halfway point (13.1 miles), I stopped to use the bathroom with some other runners. A woman standing in line with me said to everyone nearby, "We're at the halfway point ladies, up until now you were running a half marathon, now it's official, you're in a full marathon". I won't ever forget that; it was a pivotal moment for me during that race - the reality that I had already run 13 miles and still had another 13 miles to go hit me hard - and instead of feeling scared, I felt excited. I was pumped.

During the marathon I had one fleeting moment of feeling like I wanted to quit: it was at the 20 mile mark and I distinctly remember thinking that I wasn't sure I had it in me to go another 6.2 miles to reach the finish line. But when I saw my two sons and my husband standing on the sidelines ringing cowbells and cheering me on just after mile 20, I was re-energized. The mantra I kept repeating in my head from that moment on was, "you've come this far, you can't stop now". Because after you have completed 20 miles, it's almost laughable to even consider not pushing to the end. What's another 6.2 miles anyway? Piece of cake. (Yeah, right)

Crossing the finish line of that race was such a happy and satisfying moment. I can't say it was the happiest moment of my life (the birth of each of my children takes that title) but it was damn near close.


Yes, I know I look like I am praising the running gods in this photo (as do the other runners near me), but in reality this image is capturing an amazing moment in time. All of the training I did (mental and physical), all of the hard work I put into this race, all of my hopes, fears, and determination - it is all captured in this one shot as I am crossing the finish line. I am so grateful for this photo because now I will always have the visual of this incredible memory.

So what's in store for me now? Well, I am planning to run the Disney Half Marathon in January 2018 (already registered 😏). Last year my training focused on building endurance for a longer race; this year my training will focus on endurance and speed (I am hoping to get a PR in Disney next year). So I will continue with long runs and short runs and stair work (running up and down stairs and Holy Cross stadium), but I will push myself a little harder and will work on incorporating more cross training in my cardio routines. Overall, I am excited for another long race and I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to get a better time than my previous half marathon.

But most of all, I am proud to finally have this decal prominently displayed on the back of my car:


Because yeah, I earned that.