SJ's Thrivival Guide to the Holidays

The holidays can be really hard, especially if you're thinking about loved ones who have passed on, miss the ones you haven't seen or talked to in a long time, or simply experiencing general anxiety around spending time with family. It's important to stay grounded and centered within yourself. Give yourself permission to create what it is you want for holidays, and define what it means to you. Just knowing that you have the power to choose your experience is the key to thriving, especially this time of year.

Here are my tips to help you thrive during holidays: 

  • If you're traveling, give yourself plenty of time so you don't feel rushed or panicked
  • If there are delays, seek out the positive. For example, if you are surprised with an extra two hours at the airport, why not buy that book that you have been meaning to read, and start it? Or perhaps this is the only time you and your family will be alone during vacation. Find something fun to do together. If you're by yourself, be open to the synchronicities around meeting someone new. There might be a reason why you're stuck at the airport.
  • Practice gratitude
  • Let go of the patterns and expectations around people and things
  • Do your best to avoid feeling guilty if you want to do your own thing
  • Let yourself enjoy the holiday treats. It's OK to indulge!
  • Stay as balanced as you can with your personal eating habits. Consider bringing some of your own comfort foods along to family events
  • If you have a dedicated meditation, yoga, or gym routine - keep it
  • Give yourself permission to have some alone time even if there is family around
  • Respect other's needs for their space, too
  • Appreciate that others may also be feeling triggered
  • Reconnect with traditions that make you feel good - whether it's a certain event, or making a special recipe
  • Get lots of rest
  • Practice patience, loving kindness and acceptance
  • Have it be more about the moments, and less about the things
  • Be gracious in receiving
  • Give some of your time and energy to helping someone else or volunteer for a cause that is important to you
  • Get outside - especially if it's snowing! When was the last time you went sledding or made a snow angel?!
  • Listen to your heart
  • Have fun!!

Love, SJ

WOD the hell am I thinking? Part 5

WOD the hell am I thinking? is a 5-part guest blog post series for CrossFit Ironstone.

It was our fourth and final week for the Foundations class this week. We covered a lot of ground, including the front squat, the snatch and the clean and power clean, and the thruster.

In addition to the Foundations classes, there is a lot happening at the gym. I’ve been trying to take advantage of it all, in order to get the full experience—going to yoga on Sundays, tried out the mobility class, and I even signed up for the CrossFit Open—which I am told is like “CrossFit Christmas” as it only happens once a year. Four weeks ago, I never would have thought doing something like this was possible!

The CrossFit Open is an opportunity to participate in something bigger—a new workout gets announced every week in March, and the same workout is happening all over the world. Participants have a few days to complete the workout and then scores are submitted to CrossFit. It is scaled this year, which means a lot of the workouts can be modified and done with lower weights. I see this opportunity as a fun way to get to know everyone, and track my progress.

I was really nervous for my first Open workout last Saturday, but now that it is complete I’m so glad I decided to do it. Participating in this event has been very motivating and a great learning experience. My yoga tools are constantly kicking in; however, as I remain mindful of just doing what I can do now. I’m not focusing so much on my score, as I am on practicing my technique and having fun cheering others on.

One of my favourite things about Ironstone has been getting to know everyone, and hearing others stories—From the practical: How they got here? How many times week do they go? To the more personal: What did they overcome? What are their goals? Who inspires them? There is so much dedication, positivity, and inspiration all happening simultaneously under one roof. This is the part that has contributed to my overall enjoyment of this experience.

With the Foundations class wrapped up, I feel like I’m just getting started with CrossFit. I’m surprising myself with what I can accomplish and excited to discover what else is possible for me, and I look forward to seeing you there!

xo SJ

WOD the hell am I thinking? Part 4

WOD the hell am I thinking? is a 5-part guest blog post series for CrossFit Ironstone.

It was another great week at Foundations. Monday we learned all about the deadlift, and pull-ups, and we finished the class with an AMRAP that included pull-ups, burpees, squats and suitcase carries. On Wednesday, we learned about the push press and the push jerk. Patrick really emphasized the importance of technique with all of these movements. The things we all need to keep in mind are building a solid foundation with healthy nutrition, scaling, proper training, and practicing our technique in order to make progress.

When I was trying to come up with a theme for this week’s post, the first thing that came to mind was the importance of a strong community as part of living a healthy and balanced life. So far, my overall experience at the gym has been so positive and everyone is so supportive of each other’s progress. This support and encouragement keeps me engaged in the learning process, and it’s what keeps me coming back.

Since my regular yoga practice began roughly four years ago, my focus has been on only spending time with genuine people that lift my spirit, and who fully support me. I’m meeting so many wonderful, kind, like-minded people here. I’m always greeted with high-fives, and smiles, and not to mention, having fun!

During Foundations, I notice myself feeling a little timid, whether it be when trying a new movement, or adding more weight to the bar, but with the uplifting atmosphere and support from Patrick and my classmates, my confidence level to “just go for it” continues to rise with every class. This positive energy has definitely filtered through to my every day and I credit the strength of the community at Ironstone for this rise in positivity and for my enthusiasm to reach even higher.

xo SJ

WOD the hell am I thinking? Part 3

WOD the hell am I thinking? is a 5-part guest blog post series for CrossFit Ironstone.

Week 2 in the Foundations course was great! It felt so natural and powerful to work with weight on the bar.  I’m already feeling a strong sense of community and I think I can speak for the rest of the Foundations class when I say we are a fun, and supportive group. Monday night we chatted about nutrition, and it was our first time doing backsquats with weight on the bar, and did a RFT (rounds for time) workout that included 10 wall balls, 5 push-ups, and 10 lunges.  Wednesday we learned about the shoulder press, including weight, and then we got right into our workout. While working in teams, we did 3 rounds of 500m rowing, 40 kettle bell swings, and 10 box jumps, and finished off the night with a brief talk on mobility & stability.

One question that came up on Wednesday was whether or not the void of mirrors in the space is intentional. And, the answer was “yes.” Patrick’s argument is that the presence of mirrors sends the message that how you look is more important than how you feel. Trusting yourself and how you feel in a particular movement rather than focusing on self-correction is what is going to best support your process.

One myth about yoga is that you have to match some sort of model posture, and look a certain way during your practice, when this is not the case at all.  In a yoga class you’ll often hear verbal cues regarding checking in with your body, and how you “feel” in a pose.  While it is easy to get caught up in how something is “supposed to look” or how other people look, it is important not to concern ourselves with this idea. My downward dog may not look exactly the same way it does on the cover of a yoga magazine, just like my squat may not look exactly the same as my Foundations classmates’ squat. The ability to let go of comparison is the key to building confidence in myself, and in my process, and accepting that I may need to make necessary modifications to support myself along the way.

While I understand that learning proper form and coaching in CrossFit is absolutely necessary, my getting the feel for a movement is what is going to build my self-confidence.  This week, Patrick supportively pushed me to find my edge with weights and I’m excited about slowly gaining more strength with that new found edge. My workouts this week were challenging, and fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can build on for next week.

xo SJ

WOD the hell am I thinking? Part 2

WOD the hell am I thinking? is a 5-part guest blog post series for CrossFit Ironstone.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.  – Arthur Ashe

My first introduction to CrossFit at Ironstone was a lot of fun.  The sense lightness and positive energy of the space and the people in it captured me as soon as I set foot in door. I quickly realized that there is nothing to be scared of, because it’s all about taking the necessary baby steps towards a particular movement or activity while being fully supported along the way.

The “start where you are” quote came to mind immediately since it mirrors Pat’s advice to us.  I feel as though this quote could really be used as a tag line for a CrossFit gym, and any situation in life, for that matter. While using your body as your machine, do what you can do, and start where you are. It’s about focusing on the steps, towards making individual progress, and not trying to be perfect at anything.  In yoga, this is called “krama.” It literally means taking steps.

Although the CrossFit movements are high intensity, varied, and functional, the coaches are there to support where you are, and will help you scale and modify those movements to best suit you in that moment.

“Ahimsa” in yoga implies that in every situation we should adopt a considerate attitude and do no harm. As with any activity, whether it be yoga, or CrossFit, making modifications is necessary to support yourself where you are while encouraging self-awareness and compassion to avoid injury.

Self-awareness, or “svadhyaya” can easily be cultivated in the Foundations course, because of the small group size.  I felt like I was getting more of a one-on-one coaching session with Pat, because he took the time to work with us individually to acknowledge where each of our starting points were with every movement. With that, it is important to intentionally find self-awareness in all that we do, and accept ourselves, even to the point of welcoming and accepting our limitations, so there is room to grow.

I really enjoyed working out together as a group and while there is still a lot to learn, this introduction was not overwhelming at all. This first class included a warm up, and an overview of some of the basics of a squat, followed by a work out. Our first mini WOD together included a repeated sequence of rowing, ring rows, burpees, and sit ups.  I really like the variety in that, and since we barely scratched the surface, I’m already looking forward to the next one!

xo SJ

WOD the hell am I thinking? Part 1

WOD the hell am I thinking? is a 5-part guest blog post series for CrossFit Ironstone.

A CrossFit journey from the perspective of an Avid Yogi seeking balance.

So…I’m facing my fears and going for it!! Yes, I’m an avid yogi and have decided to take a step into the unknown world of CrossFit. The closest I’ve ever come to CrossFit is dabbling in some paleo baking and hearing from friends raving about the effectiveness of the workout. Admittedly, I was always more interested learning more about paleo baking as part of my healthy eating habits than I was learning about the workouts.

Not unlike before stepping into my first yoga studio, I have a lot of misconceptions about what CrossFit is, as it seems to speak a whole other language. I only just started going to a gym regularly this time last year, and have learned to enjoy weights, but this to me, seems like a whole other level, and I’ve felt so many emotions after taking this leap of faith.

I’ve been following the progress of CrossFit Ironstone since its inception and kept wondering if I should try it. With a space this beautiful, I thought, maybe now is the time to finally give it a try?

I was chatting about it with a friend this week and within a few hours, we were signing up for the Foundations class. Our texts back and forth included things like “ahhhhhhh!!!” “We’re doing this!! Lol”. So excited and scared all at the same time. While the initial account sign up was a breeze, the hardest part for me was clicking that payment button. I literally took a moment before pressing it and asked myself “what the hell am I thinking?”

After years of regular yoga and meditation practice, I’ve learned a lot about myself. The first thing is, I need variety and fun in my life in order to feel balanced, and centered. Secondly, practicing non-attachment to any outcome just makes life easier, so keeping an open, relaxed mind is key. Thirdly, it is important not to compare myself to others. And, lastly, but most importantly, I have learned time and time again that change and facing fear of change always leads to more personal and spiritual growth. Going into this head on, while scary, I know it will be fun and I’ll learn something valuable about myself.

Through yoga, I have also learned the value of community, and CrossFit is not unlike yoga in that sense. Community, which is called “sangha” in yoga philosophy is essential to a healthy, and balanced Self. So, with that, I am excited to see how this journey into CrossFit will enrich my life, and complement and enhance my yoga practice.

Through this, I am keeping an open mind, and compassionate heart as I venture into this unknown world. It’s always been about treating my body well, within the capacity of what it can do, and so it is with this that I go into my first Foundations class as my security blanket.

It is my hope that the decision to share my experiences with the Foundations class at Ironstone will help others who, like me, have been contemplating this for years, and who are also afraid of giving CrossFit a try. I’m already feeling so much support from the community here, and I look forward to the challenge of trying something new and demystifying this unknown territory. What’s the worst that could happen? Meet some like-minded people and get physically and mentally stronger? I’m in!

xo SJ