Fitness

Fitness, My Journey

Visualization


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This past weekend I celebrated my 30th birthday, so I spent my time with family and friends walking around DTLA and enjoying some delicious food. More often than not when you talk to someone about turning 30 you often hear a sigh and then a list of regrets or things they didn’t accomplish before they were 30. Instead I’m extremely thankful and blessed for each day that led up to my 30th birthday. As I look back on the past 30 years I hold nothing but a smile on my face. A smile that I am going to take with me into the next decade of my life. One of my biggest goals is to get back to my fit and healthy self. That begins with visualizing where I want to be and determining the necessary steps to get there. Tonight’s exercise was one of those steps.

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Birthday in DTLA. PC: my best friend Bhanuja

Workout

Tabatas 0:40 on/0:10 off – 4 rounds

1. Sprints up and down driveway (doing this with your dogs chasing you adds laughter)
2. Jump rope (I don’t know about some of you, but I struggle with this one because jumping makes me have to pee, and so I had to take a bathroom break part way through the third round.)
3. Push-ups
4. Curtsy lunge to a 180° squat jump – begin by lunging your right leg, at an angle, behind your left leg (like doing a curtsy). Come up to neutral stance, squat and jump while doing a 180° twist. Once you land do a curtsy lunge with your left leg behind your right and do another 180° squat jump.
5. Crunches
6. Parallel bar jump overs (I used 13″ parallel bars)
7. Reverse crunches
8. Overhead twisted ball slams – Begin with legs hip width apart and a medicine ball in your hands. Lift the medicine ball over your head, rotate your upper body to the right and slam the ball to the ground. Picking the medicine ball back up, lift the ball over your head as you rotate to the left. Slam the ball to the ground. Repeat this sequence through the remaining time.
9. Football shuffle to plank burpee (count to 5 in your head while you shuffle before you drop to the burpee)
10. bicep curl to shoulder press (I used 6 pound weights)

 

My goal during this workout was to get my heart rate up in a short amount of time. Overall I was able to burn 475 calories in under 40 minutes. By the 4th round I was tired, but I didn’t want to give up on myself, or my goals. Always focus on what your vision for your future is when you’re at the point of quitting. It’s that reminder that gives you an added push to finish what you set out to accomplish. 

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Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Sisterly Fun


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It’s my birthday weekend and I spent today being celebrated at work. They decorated my cube with confetti, bought me fruit for breakfast (yay for being healthy!), and had a bundt cake for dessert. I know that I am going to be enjoying some delicious food this weekend so when my sister asked me to workout with her tonight I said of course! Tonight’s workout is brought to you by Carissa, enjoy :). 

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Workout

Part 1 – partner rotation

For each letter grouping you will do 8 rounds of 0:30 on and 0:10 off. At each resting point you will switch exercises, doing each letter 4 times each. Between each grouping of exercises you will take a recovery period of 1:00, at which time you will do your burpees (i.e. 5 burpees, 0:30 on 0:10 off of A, 0:30 on and 0:10 off of B, repeat A and B 3 times, 1:00 recover and 4 burpees, then move onto C and D).

5 burpees
a) battle rope composers: with your arms straight in front of you, lift the battle rope up and down. Next as you lift your arms up circle them out and bring them back together at the bottom. Repeat the two movements for the 0:30.
b) bicep curl –> overhead press

4 burpees
c) funky T’s –> Frankenstein: with arms straight out to the side (like a T) lower one arm down and bring it back up (single arm fly). From the T position bring arms together in front of you and then back out to the T position. Do a single arm fly on the opposite side and then bring your arms back together in front of you. Repeat the sequence for the 0:30.
d) alternating single arm row

3 burpees
e) triceps dips
f) 90° fly –> superman: Place your elbows at your sides, arms bent 90° (halfway point of a bicep curl). Leaving your arms in a 90° angle lift your right arm laterally at the shoulder (elbow is in line with shoulder) and lower back down. Straighten both arms out in front of you at chest level, palms down. Bring elbows back down to your sides with arms bent at a 90° angle. Lift your left arm laterally at the shoulder (elbow is in line with shoulder) and lower back down. Straighten both arms out in front of you at chest level, palms down. Bring elbows back down to your sides with arms bent at 90° angle. Repeat sequence for the 0:30.

2 burpees
g) scaptions
h) chest squeeze to alternating shoulder press: Arms begin in a goal post position. Bring arms together in front of you (squeezing elbows together). Taking arms back to goal post position lift right arm in a shoulder press. Squeeze arms together again and once back in goal post position lift left arm in a shoulder press. Repeat sequence for 0:30.

1 burpee

Part 2 – Pyramid of core & buns

Each exercise in this section has a specific number of reps associated with it. Beginning with the exercise that has 10 reps you will work your way down to the exercise with 1 rep. As you move on to each exercise you will repeat all of the exercises before it (i.e. 10 SL dead lifts; 10 SL dead lifts, 9 squats; 10 SL dead lifts, 9 squats, 8 pike toe taps; etc.). Once you make it all the way down the pyramid, do one round of the pyramid backwards, so start from the exercise with 1 rep and finish with the exercise with 10 reps.

– 10 alternating single leg dead lifts (5 each leg)
– 9 wide stance squats on tippy toes
– 8 pike plank toe taps: starting in plank position on your hands bring your right hand to your left toe and return to plank position (this counts as 1). Repeat with left hand to right toe.
– 7 reverse crunches
– 6 lunge extravaganza: On your left leg do a reverse lunge, a curtsy lunge, a reverse lunge, and then a squat (this counts as 1). Be sure to balance through the entire sequence. Repeat on the right side.
– 5 varying jump squats: Starting in a closed foot squat, jump out to a wide squat and back to a closed foot squat. Each time you bring your feet back together this counts as 1.
– 4 archers: Begin in bear crawl. Rotate your body to the left, bringing your right leg under your body and extending out in an L in front of you. Stabilized on your right arm pull your left arm back as if you are an archer pulling a bow (this counts as 1). Return to bear crawl position and repeat on the opposite side. Your extended leg should be flexed and at a 90° angle at your hip.
– 3 box jumps
– 2 mercy bicycles: With your legs straight and hovering an inch from the ground, bring your right elbow to your left knee for a bicycle crunch. Hold for 2 seconds and bring legs back to hovering (this counts as 1). Repeat on the opposite side.
– 1 “I’m a Star”: jump in the air with arms and legs out like an X.

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Happy partner workout!

Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Workouts don’t always go as planned


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I had a plan today. I was going to get off work at 4:30, go home, workout and have dinner with my family.

Then life happened.

I left work at 4:30, got in my car and as I was turning out of the parking lot I remembered I had dinner plans. Crap! The questions started bombarding my brain, do I call and see if we are still on for dinner? Do I go home and then message her and say oops? Do I not say anything? Did she forget too? I ended up calling her and we decided to meet up for sushi. 

Once I arrived home I said hi to my family and then began cranking out my workout. Half way through my sister came into the garage and told me that her and my dad needed help with our dog. Kalen, our male golden, is currently suffering from an infected wound on his balls and they need help holding him down while they cut the hair around the wound. Again, life happened and I had to roll with the punches (maybe while being slightly annoyed). After all the hair was trimmed I jetted back to the garage and finished up my routine. 

I could have easily thrown in the towel from the moment I realized that I had dinner plans. Knowing that I still wanted to get my workout in I didn’t eat a lot of sushi and we kept our roll choices on the lighter side. I could have also ended my workout when my sister asked for help, but I decided that finishing my workout was more important to me than the time on the clock. 464 calories later, I am proud of myself for not giving up on my goals and what I said I would do. 

Workout

Run: 1 mile finished in 14:20
– 7:00 run
– 7:20 alternating between 1:00 walk and 1:00 run

4 Rounds with a 1:00 break in between each round
– 20 crunches
– 12 push-ups
– 20 crunches
– 12 alternating reverse lunges
– 20 crunches
– 12 plank jacks with knee tucks
– 20 crunches
– 12 bicep curls (6 pound weights)
– 20 crunches
– 12 plie squats to releve

 

Now time to meditate.

Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Accountability


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This past week I’ve been listening to the Ed Mylett show and a lot of what his guests have been saying has been resonating with me. They have been talking about manifesting your dreams, going after your goals, and holding yourself accountable for what you want in life. As I’ve been listening to these podcasts my health and fitness goals have been at the forefront of my mind. On July 17th I went to the doctors to get my blood work results, and although they weren’t horrible, there are things that I need to work on. As I go into my thirties I want to live a life at the healthiest I have ever been. I’ve been slowly making progress at losing the excess weight, but the current patterns I have been living with aren’t sufficing. To reach my goals and succeed at living a healthy life I need to hold myself accountable on every level. Starting today, July 28th, 2018, I am going to share my workouts, meals, and measurements on this blog. I will post my measurements every Saturday and post my workouts either every day, every few days, or once a week, depending upon how my week goes. I hope that in keeping myself accountable I will inspire you to hold yourself accountable as well.

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Measurements

Weight: 185.8 pounds
Right Calf: 14 1/8″

Right Thigh: 26″
Hips: 45 2/8″
Waist: 36 1/8″
Chest: 38 2/8″
Neck: 14 1/8″
Right Forearm: 9 5/8″
Right Bicep: 12 6/8″

Workout

20 minute run
– 1:00 walk
– 6:00 run
– 13:00 broken up by 1:00 walk followed by 1:00 run

Tabatas 3 rounds @ 1:00 on 0:20 off with a 2:00 rest
– Reverse crunch (round one 16, round two 20, round three 28)
– Upper cuts
– Side shuffle (3 steps) to side lunge toe tap
– Alternating single arm clean and press with a 10 pound kettle bell (round one 17, round two 18, round three 20)
– Russian twists
– Ball slams with and 8 pound ball
– Standing oblique crunches with a knee tuck right side (round one 32, round two 39, round three 44)
– Standing oblique crunches with a knee tuck left side (round one 32, round two 39, round three 44)
– Jump rope

At the end of the workout I was a sweaty mess (see hat below). I’m not usually a sweater, but with the heat and humidity today I definitely got my monies worth in this workout. I burned a total of 778 calories and spent majority of my workout in zones 3 and 4. 

Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Weight Loss and Weight Gain


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I am about to be really vulnerable with you. Really, really, really vulnerable, and I am not going to hold anything back in this post. If you are here to judge me or laugh at me you can move along, this post is not for you. Otherwise I welcome you and I hope that you find yourself inspired by my words. 

As I sit here in my living room writing this a million things are running through my head. I’m not quite sure where to start with this topic. Do I start where my journey started five years ago, or do I start where I am today? A lot can be said, and will be said, but I think I will start where I was sitting a year ago. In January of 2017 I felt both emotionally and physically drained. I had just returned from a mini vacation where I ended a relationship with a man I loved, my mom was finishing up chemo therapy and I was returning to a stressful season at my job. All of these things were mentally draining to me and my physical appearance reflected all of it. Upon returning from this vacation I weighed in at the most I have ever weighed. I don’t have an exact number, but a month prior I had weighed in at two hundred and five pounds. That was a blow to my spirit. How did I get here? How did I allow myself to gain over seventy pounds in three years?
weightloss 6Now that I got that scary, vulnerable moment out of the way I think I can finally breathe again. Thinking back over the last several years I know what happened, and really at the end of the day there is no excuse for allowing myself to get to that point, but I think it’s time to start from the beginning now. On December 3rd, 2012 I was finally fed up with being overweight and decided to try a weight loss program that promised fast results in a short amount of time. I will say it worked, and within two months I had lost fifteen pounds. Feeling unstoppable I decided to get a personal trainer and began working out with him three times a week. In a year I dropped sixty-five pounds and gained a new found love for anything fitness related. I started Spartan racing, running 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and I even decided to go back to school to get my CPT certification. 

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Left: March 2013 (first 5K); Right: October 2013 (first half marathon)

Now don’t get me wrong I loved how much weight I had lost and how fit I had become, but I knew deep down inside that what I was doing was not the healthiest and that it couldn’t be maintained forever. I was eating eight hundred calories a day, ninety percent of it being soy products, and I was working out twice a day. Along with my workouts I had developed an unhealthy relationship with my trainer. We had crossed over from a professional relationship to a brotherly/sisterly type of relationship, which left a door open for a lot of negative things to be said. I am an overly confident woman, but during this time of being at my lowest weight I was obsessed with every ounce on the scale. Partially because my trainer made me weigh in every time I worked out to make sure I lost weight, and if I hadn’t I would be put through a more rigorous workout, but also because every time I looked in the mirror I would see areas of fat that weren’t there. 

Around August of 2014 I decided that I needed to end the program I was on. All of the soy that I was eating was starting to mess with my digestive system and caused a lot of acne. I also needed to stop spending money on a personal trainer and get away from the unhealthy relationship we had developed. I still had a month of sessions left with him so I slowed down my weekly trainings with him and told him I was going to go and pursue my own fitness degree. At the start of 2014 I had joined my brother and his school friends and professor for a Spartan race. Everyone I met in that group was in the fitness program at school and I made the choice to join them in their education. For the next two semesters I took two classes under Jeff and learned everything I could about fitness and personal training. In the fall of 2015 I received my CPT. 

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I thought that for sure I would be able to stay on track with maintaining my weight because I was surrounded by like minded individuals and I was going to school for exercise science. Where I made my mistake though was I started partying. Around the same time that I started school I also began latin dancing. One night I went out for my birthday, met a guy, and kept going back every Tuesday. Every week that I went back I started to fall more in love with the dance style and I realized that one of the biggest things missing from my life was dancing. As time went on I slowly started to go out five or six times a week. The problem with this was that all of the dance lessons were at bars with the socials following after. I would get off work, go dancing from six thirty to two in the morning, come home and have sex with the guy I was with and sleep for three hours. Then I’d get up the next day and repeat this. I had no time to meal prep or work out. Instead I would eat fast food three times a day and then go out to the bars and drink, not heavily, but I’d still drink. None of this was conducive to a healthy lifestyle. 

Slowly I packed on the pounds. At first I noticed it and told myself that I could change this and that my going out was only going to last a little while longer. I’d say that next week I would start waking up at four thirty in the morning and get my runs in. I wasn’t going to let myself get back to where I used to be, but gaining a little bit wouldn’t kill me. I was having fun after all. Two years went by and the next thing I know I weighed the most I have ever weighed in my life. I was never a partier in high school or college, so I was thoroughly enjoying my time going out and dancing, but in the spring of 2016 I started to feel drained. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I ate like crap, I was in an unhealthy relationship, and my mom was just diagnosed with cancer. Something needed to change. I slowly started to leave the dance scene. I missed my friends, but I could no longer go out and party. I also wanted to spend more time at home with my family. 

Heading into the fall of 2016 I was only going out dancing to celebrate my friends’ birthdays. I had finally left the party scene and I was starting to get back into fitness and meal prepping. Then work happened. Earlier in the year we had gotten a new VP and our department was split down the middle between finance and accounting. A lot of training had been going on over the last couple of months, but nothing was as bad as the season we were about to head into. From August to the end of October we go through our budget season at work. We had a pretty good system going over the past few years, but our new VP wanted things done differently and wanted us to dive more into the detail. This left us working eighty hour work weeks, including weekends, and not really having any type of home life. We were all exhausted, doing everything we could to get from one day to the next. On top of that one of our team members was not coming into work, so we were left picking up her slack. By the time I got home the last thing I thought about were my workouts or making my meals for the next day. Instead I would crawl into bed knowing that I’d only be getting five to six hours of sleep before it all started again. 

As things started to slow down I decided to pick up boxing as a form of working out. That only lasted a couple of weeks because as soon as our budget season was over the coworker who wasn’t showing up to work decided to quit altogether. This meant our team was down one member heading into the rest of the year. My only saving grace was that I got a promotion out of her leaving. Every year our work gives us a gift week off between Christmas and New Years. For that break I decided to go out and visit the man I loved in Colorado. My time there was great, but before I left I knew that I loved him more than he loved me and so I ended things. Thus bringing us back around to where my story started, January 2017. 

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As the year of 2017 started I knew that things needed to change in my life. I needed to focus on getting healthy both emotionally and physically, so I spent the last year doing just that. I slowly distanced myself from unhealthy people, cutting back on eating unhealthy foods, and I started working out again. In February I found a group of girls who were filled with positivity, growth, and love. Pole dancing was a safe place for me to escape when I needed to and it was also the place to help me rediscover just who I was. I can proudly say that even during my rough times I was confident and strong enough to not lose who I was deep down inside, but I did fail to nurture her and treat her with respect. That was no longer going to happen. If anyone deserved my time and energy it was myself and that is where majority of my focus went.

I have failed, stumbled, and beaten myself up, but I’ll be damned if I let anything keep me down. Life isn’t about being perfect, but rather it’s about learning from each moment and taking the time to decided which direction you ultimately want to go. I have been both healthy and unhealthy in my life. I have seen what both lifestyles provide me and I have decided I want to get back to my healthier weight and more active lifestyle. I recognize that I have a lot of changes to make if I want to get there, but I am no longer looking for the fast fix. This time around I am making daily choices to change my lifestyle.

Over the last eight months I have lost around twenty pounds and have found my athletic side again. Some of the changes I have made include canceling my netflix, working out three times a week, packing more lunches to bring to work, and making smoothies on the weekend. I still need to cut things out of my diet, such as pop and eating fast food, but I am proud of how much I have already cut back on those. Everything needs to be taken one day at a time and a good balance needs to be found. I have taken drastic measures before, but right now I need to focus on finding what works for me and something that I can maintain. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be fast, but it will be worth it in the end. Being healthy isn’t just about looking the part, but it’s about feeling the part as well. I plan on spending the rest of my life loving my body in every shape and size it is in and nurturing it to be the healthiest it can be. 

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Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Bike Adventure!


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On October 7th my sister asked me if I wanted to go on a bike trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles with her and my brother. For a couple of minutes I pondered the idea while a couple of things ran through my head:

  • I’ve never ridden a road bike before, is two and a half months of training enough?
  • I’m in full swing of dance rehearsals, will I even be able to train?
  • I am not as in shape as I have been, is this something I can even do?

Despite all of the things telling me to say no, I said “absolutely!” Why would I hold myself back from an awesome opportunity? I had a feeling it was going to be difficult, but being able to embark on the trip of a lifetime with my siblings was going to be worth every ounce of difficulty. 

The following Wednesday, October 11th, I went to All Pro Bicycles and purchased a Trek Domane AL 2 8-speed bike. If you are going to buy a bike anywhere I highly suggest going to see Gina and Maddie. It’s a family owned shop and they know their bikes. We have been purchasing our bikes from them for years and they are super great people who only have your best interest in mind. The next morning I took my bike out for its first ride and it was definitely something I was not used to. With the skinnier tires finding my balance was difficult. Another thing I knew I needed to practice was switching the gears. On a mountain bike your gears are on the top of the handlebars, so switching to gear shifters in the front of your handlebars was not easy for my small hands. 

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For the next two months my siblings, dad and I would take weekend bike trips around Simi Valley. We found this beautiful greenway that ran the whole length of the city and made our training safe instead of being on the road with the cars. The Friday after Thanksgiving we wanted to do a 60 mile ride from our house to Point Mugu and back. That morning we were all feeling great, the weather was perfect, and we set out ready to conquer our first 60 miler. We rode the greenway to Tierra Rejada and took that down to Moorpark road and then over to Santa Rosa. The ride to Point Mugu was smooth and we were making great timing. It took us 2 ½ hours to ride out there and then we turned around and headed to CSUCI for lunch. Before we set out to head back home my brother told us that we should be prepared for a little climb, needless to say it was not a little climb.

Turning left off of campus we headed East on Portrero road. The first hill we came upon was short, but steep and ended up being a category 3 climb. Once I got to the top of the hill I was winded, but continued on, thinking that was the “little climb” my brother mentioned. Looking ahead I saw a bit of a down hill and some flat road. As I headed down the hill something flew into my throat and I started coughing. I stopped my bike and tried to get the cough to stop, but my airway started to spasm and I began to have breathing issues. After I got my body to calm down I got back on my bike and I would bike a couple of feet before I would be stopped by another cough/breathing attack. At this point my brother and sister were far ahead of me and I had no cell phone reception, so I knew that I needed to keep going, but I was to the point where my body was no longer getting enough oxygen to create ATP. My muscles were done. 

As I continued chugging along my sister had turned around and came looking for me. When she realized I couldn’t breathe she got off her bike and we walked a little ways to give my body some rest. As we were walking this car stopped and asked if we needed help, to which we responded that we were fine. He then asked if we had ever done this hill before and when we said no he said, “it’s brutal, then it gets more brutal, and then continues to get brutal.” Thanking him for stopping we continued walking until we found a safe pull out to stop. When we stopped my brother had turned around and came back to us. Knowing that I was done, but that we didn’t have cell service, we needed to get to the top of this road. My sister and brother took off on their bike and I walked up the hill until we were able to call my mom to come pick me up. That was the most brutal training day I had to date and it started to make me doubtful. Would I be able to do this trip?

Over the next 4 weeks I was only able to get two more training days in, maxing out at 47 miles in one day. My weeks were filled up with dance rehearsals and I wasn’t able to get any more time in on my bike. This was going to have to be enough. When December 26th came around my siblings and I woke up bright and early, put our bikes on the back of the car and headed out to Union Station. This was it, there was no turning back. We took the train from LA to Oakland and then biked the two miles from the train station to my friend Tanya’s apartment. Those short two miles brought on a quick realization for all of us, biking with our gear on the backs of our bikes was throwing off our balance. This was definitely going to add another challenge to our trip ahead. Getting to Tanya’s apartment we had a little scare because I opened the wrong apartment door, but once we were inside the right apartment we settled in and got a good night’s sleep before we started our bike trip. 

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PC: Chris Trapp

On the morning of December 27th we headed to the bart station and took that into San Francisco. Once in San Francisco we had a few miles of biking up the city hills to get to Target for breakfast. By the time we got to Target and ate breakfast it was already 11:00 and so we decided not to head to Golden Gate park, but rather bike west to the ocean. When we got out of the city and came across the beautiful view of the ocean we had a moment of clarity. This is what we were here to do. Take in the beautiful views of the ocean while biking 450 miles to our home in Los Angeles. My goodness we were blessed!

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Our first view of the ocean

Heading south along the PCH we were able to stay on a bike bath for a couple of miles, then we had to transition to the shoulder of the PCH. Hitting a couple of inclines we made it about 6 miles before we decided to break off into the neighborhood, opting for side street riding to stay off of the freeway. As we turned onto Skyline drive we were met with a category 4 climb, our first of 4 tough climbs on our trip. From the looks of the hill I knew that I did not want to waste my energy, so I chose to walk my bike up the hill. At the top of the hill I realized we were about to bike down a hill at the same incline, and I really do not like going down hills. White knuckling my breaks the whole way down we finally made it out of the neighborhood and continued on Oceana Boulevard until we found a nice place to stop and eat some lunch.

By the time we stopped for lunch it was close to 1:00 and we still had 40 miles to go for the day. Time was not in our favor and we were not looking forward to night biking, but at the pace we were going it more than likely would have to be done. I knew it was me that was holding us all back, the hills were getting to me and I was the slowest out of the 3 of us, but I wasn’t going to give up just yet. Heading back out onto the road we got back onto the freeway and biked a few more miles before we hit what is called the “Devil’s Slide.” Going into this section of the freeway you see a beautiful forest and a winding road that looks like a gradual climb. Don’t let it fool you, it is another category 4 climb that is about a mile long. 

As we started the climb my sister went ahead and my brother stayed behind me. We were on a small shoulder with cars zooming by on our left and soft dirt on our right. Going off of the road either direction could turn out badly. About a quarter of the way up my body started to fatigue and it was no longer staying in a straight line. My entire body was shaking, causing my handle bars to drift out into traffic. Thankfully my brother stuck himself out into traffic to merge the cars over, allowing me room as I swerved left and right up this hill. With constant encouragement coming from him I only had to stop and take a break once. As we crested the hill we noticed a tunnel up ahead, which made all 3 of us extremely nervous. The shoulder we just biked on was scary enough, what would a tunnel bring? Thankfully as we were taking a break a man came off of a paved hiking trail and told us that it was the old road before they built the tunnel. We could bike that around the tunnel and find our way to the other side. 

I slowly made my way along this paved trail, having to stop every 20 feet or so because my body was exhausted. Any type of incline, no matter how small, took all of my effort to bike up it. Knowing that we still had about 36+ miles until we got to our campground I began to worry. I wasn’t going to make it. We began looking at the maps and noticed that Half Moon Bay was a little over 10 miles away, so we decided to see how the next couple of miles went before we made any decisions. A couple of miles later we stopped at a gas station, bough two big bottles of Powerade, and booked a hotel in Half Moon Bay. Finishing our first day we biked by the Maverick’s surf point, went out for some Chinese food, and settled into our hotel to discuss our course of action for the rest of the trip.

Mentally I wanted to continue on with the trip, but physically I knew it was not something that would pan out with the limited time frame we were in. Yes, we did 2 out of the 4 hardest climbs on our first day, but my problem was getting my body to do 60-70 mile days. Knowing my limits I decided to call my parents and ask them to come pick me up. The plan was that my siblings and I would bike to the KOA in Pescadero, where we had planned to stay our first night, and my parents would pick me up there on Friday. Carissa and Chris would continue on to Monterey and we would pick them up there on Saturday and drive them around the mudslides in Big Sur. 

Thursday morning, December 28th, we got on our bikes and headed out for our 27 mile day. With the shorter distance to travel we weren’t in as much of a hurry as we were the first day, which meant we could take our time and enjoy the gorgeous views biking along the ocean had to offer. My body was still tired from the day before, so I had to take the occasional break, but overall the day brought small rolling hills and amazing weather! Google maps wanted to take us off of the freeway and onto back roads, but we opted to stay on the PCH and we were extremely grateful for that decision. 

Half way through our day we stopped at San Gregorio State Beach and we were treated to the most gorgeous lunch spot. Switching off between watching the bikes and hiking around the beach we took our sweet time taking in the breathtaking views and calming feeling the beach brought. As we headed back out onto the PCH our first climb was on a narrow bridge, which I opted to walk my bike. The way my body shook on the incline from the day before I did not want to be swerving out into the cars on this bridge. As the day continued on we came up to Pigeon Point Lighthouse. We had originally looked into staying at the hostel they had on the property, but it was too expensive for our budgets. Since we were only 3 miles from our campground we stopped and toured the lighthouse. We saw the skull and ribs of a juvenile gray whale, and we learned that each lighthouse has a different timing between when their lights shine. As ships make their way up the coast they know where they are at based on the seconds that pass between each rotation of a lighthouse’s light. Pigeon point has a 10 second rotation, something I tested out later that evening as we were walking home from dinner. 

Finishing up our last few miles we finally made it to the KOA in Pescadero. I highly recommend staying here if you are ever looking for a place to camp along the coast. Not only are the campsites beautiful, but the people are extremely nice. We had to change our reservation last minute the night before and I had to sit around waiting for my parents all day the next day. Even though I stayed 4 hours after check-out they accommodated me and allowed me to stay without any charge. After setting up camp we walked over to Highway 1 Brewing for dinner and then came back to our campsite and laughed the night away until bed time. 

The next morning my siblings took off for their bike ride to Lover’s Point in Monterey and I hung around camp waiting for my parents to pick me up. I enjoyed the quiet of nature reading a book, walking around the campground, and spending some time watching deer walk through the fields. As sad as I was that my journey was coming to an end, I knew that it was necessary. A trip like this requires a longer time frame for 30 mile days, or it requires more training for 70 mile days. I will be back out to conquer this trip and knowing that my siblings are wanting to do it again so they can do the Big Sur section makes me super excited to have a future trip to take with them. I am beyond blessed to be able to go through life adventuring with these two. Not only do we push ourselves to do crazy adventures, but we have fun along the way. 

Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey, Pole Dancing

Merry Christmas, Baby


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During the winter of 7th grade I was waiting at the bus stop with a girl named Jamie, and two other boys. Freezing our butts off Jaime asked me if I wanted to learn to pole dance. Not knowing what to expect I said sure and had my first lesson on a bus stop pole. Oddly enough I fell in love with pole dancing at that exact moment, and for the next 25 years I tried many different times to take an actual class, but it didn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts and sketchy studios. 

On February 11th, 2017 I was invited to a Burlesque Booty Camp class at Crystal Arts Dance Studio hosted by a guest instructor. Walking into the studio I had no idea what to expect, but I was greeted by a kind and vivacious woman named Christina. It turned out that I was the only one who had signed up for the class and so her and I spent the next hour dancing across the floor, in chairs, and doing floor work. Not only was the class fun, but the environment that she created allowed for my Goddess to open the door a crack and take a peek outside. It was during that class that Christina mentioned to me that she teaches pole dancing as well, so I knew I needed to go and take one of her pole classes. 

March 2nd was my first ever professional pole class and let me tell you, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. I knew back in 7th grade that pole dancing was something that I wanted needed to do in my life. It wasn’t because it was sexy, or drew the attention of men, but rather it was what my body, in all it’s curvaceous glory, was BORN. TO. DO. I say that with so much passion because there has never been anything else that has made me feel so alive. I’ve skied, ran 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, completed 9 Spartan races, and salsa danced, among many other things. But nothing, nothing, has ever made me feel like this first class, and every day after, has made me feel. 

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That first night in class there was Tiffany and myself who were the newbies. Our big sisters were Marisha, Audra, Seraphina and Amanda, with Christina as our instructor. Each of the girls were inviting, warm, helpful, and super kind. They took their time to answer our questions if Christina was busy teaching someone else and they cheered us on when we did a trick. My favorite part of the night happened after we were done learning tricks. The Pole Dance Movement classes end with a mini dance session. Depending on the week each girl gets the opportunity to dance to a song in a solo. For the new girls a small routine is provided as we grow into our Goddesses, but for the more experienced girls freestyles are encouraged. That night’s theme was textiles, something that makes you feel good, sexy, feminine, comfortable, etc. I loved dancing the small routine, but it was in watching our big sisters dance that I fell in love. I fell in love with the studio. I fell in love with the girls. I found my Goddess in pole dancing.

Obviously when your Goddess comes out of hiding you have to keep doing it, so naturally I dove in. I would leave Flying Curves feeling empowered, relaxed, and on nights when words couldn’t describe what I was feeling my tears spoke for me because I had finally found my home. Finding this home led me to the Goddesses Empowered The Show, which is something that Christina puts on once or twice a year. All of us Flying Curves ladies have the opportunity to get on stage and perform in solo or group pieces. When I heard about this opportunity I knew I wanted to do both a solo and a group piece, so I asked Christina if I could take one of the solo spots and she said absolutely! From the moment she saw me dance in the Burlesque Booty Camp she knew that I would be an excellent soloist. Hearing those words from her only boosted my confidence and told me that I was on the right path. 

If you know me, you know the confidence I exude on a daily basis. I’m human, so of course I have my off days, but for the most part I know who I am and I share it with the world. I wanted this to be brought across to each and every single audience member. I wanted them to leave that show feeling more confident in themselves and having a desire to go out into the world and fill their lives with passion for something. To get there though I needed to train, work hard, find my song, learn the tricks, and put together a piece that portrayed my Goddess.

We had 6 months to train and put together our routines. Knowing that it was a holiday show I started listening to Christmas music in June. I knew I wanted something slow, but with hits. My Goddess loves to shake her ass and move her hips, so I needed something that would showcase that. Finding a song was probably the most difficult part of this process. Your Goddess changes so much throughout your pole dancing journey that what works one month might not work the next. One night during a Goddess Flow class I danced to Hot for Teacher by Van Halen. At that point in time it had probably been my best dance yet and I thought I found my show song. I had planned it all out in my head on how it could be a holiday song. I would be a teacher that taught elves in Santa’s workshop. It was going to be super HOT. Alas, when I danced to it a couple of weeks later it didn’t have the same fire. See what I mean by your Goddess changing all of the time?

In all of our soloist workshops I would dance to many holiday songs and previously I had danced to Merry Christmas, Baby by Christina Aguilera. I liked it, but didn’t love it. It was slow, but didn’t have the big hits. I wanted the big hits! One night I played a holiday playlist and came across the Merry Christmas, Baby version sung by the Nashville cast. That was it! I found my song! It was slow, sensual, and it had high moments where I could shine my va va voom! Next I found my story. My boyfriend just proposed to me and I was going to show him a good night. Not having a guy to dance for on stage I decided to make the audience my boyfriend. That meant I would need audience interaction. Could I do it? Could I tease, make eye contact, and play with the audience? Of course I could! I love breaking the 4th wall!

Everything that happened after finding my song and story was a whirl wind. I had long days at work and late nights at the studio. My weekends were spent on the group pieces. I had moments of clarity, moments of emotional break down. I had visions of what I wanted to do followed by blockages. I received feedback after feedback from Christina. I spent my daily commutes listening to my song over and over again. I lived and breathed that routine. There were days where I was overworked and tired that I wanted to change my song altogether, but taking a day to step away from dance brought my perspective back. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that dance is easy. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that putting together routines is easy. It takes a lot of work, discipline, and patience. It’s totally worth it in the end, but the grind to get there is filled with it’s highs and lows, so take each moment as it comes. 

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PC: Kate Chianese

On the day of the show I was ready. I hadn’t performed on a stage in over 11 years, but all of those same feelings came back to me. Butterflies in my stomach, excitement, and happiness. I was finally back to where I belong, and it felt great! I was born to be a dancer. I was born to be a performer. I am by no means a professional on any level, but I am an entertainer nonetheless. For those of you who have ever had the opportunity to watch me perform, you know this. I belong up on a stage. Most importantly though, I belong up on a stage pole dancing. I still have a long ways to go in my pole journey, but I’ll be damned if I’m not back on that stage in the next show. My Goddess has found her home and I won’t take that away from her. She’s ecstatic, I’m ecstatic and together we will continue pursuing this dream we have been chasing for 25 years and we will succeed! 

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Love Always,

Jess