112 posts categorized " Sayeh's Living Lithe! "

SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE! 10 Sep 2014

Sayeh

This blog is meant to be read while listening to O-Town's "All or Nothing at All." (You remember O-Town. The O stood for Orlando. ORLANDO. While I'm sure Orlando has its rough and tumble sections...it's not exactly a town with tons of street cred. Although I did hear that they were considering it as the setting for the 6th season of The Wire, but thought the images of life-sized cartoon characters harassing bedraggled, sweat-drenched parents and sugar-amped, sticky kids at Disney World might be a little too graphic for HBO audiences.) 

I've always been an all or nothing kind of person. If I'm in, I buy the books, wear the t-shirts, drink the Kool-Aid and bust out of walls to convince other people to take a sip. Do it. It will make your eyes sparkle and your lips shine and your butt tight and help you get along better with your mom. I commit so fully, so fast and so intensely that it's completely unsustainable and I burn out. And when I fall off a wagon, I can fall so far off that it feels almost impossible to get back on.

Another all or nothing habit I have is the need to have a million ducks in a row before I feel ready to start something. In college, for example, I would need to study for a class, but before I could even consider studying, I would feel compelled to clean my room first. Because...how could I study in a dirty room? Week-old Jack in the Box bags (come on Philly, we need the Monster Taco and the Sourdough Jack here!) and piles of Wet Seal clothing and trucker hats everywhere is not exactly conducive to a clear mind. So I would begin to tidy up. Then tidying up would lead to deep cleaning and deep cleaning would lead to organizing that junk drawer I've been meaning to get to, and opening that mail I've been needing to open (you know all the bills for the credit cards I signed up for to get a free frisbee that ultimately ruined my life)...and before I knew it, it would be midnight, and I would be screwed for class the next day. And while yes, studying in a clean space is helpful, I could've gone to the library and left the room cleaning for another day, or just cleaned up a little and not gone so bat sh*t. But those seemingly so reasonable options would not enter my mind.

Fast forward to life now, and I have seemed to carry those habits with me. Particularly in terms of health and fitness. I am all in or all out. I'm either Lithing 4-6 times a week and eating lean and clean and feeling really good about myself or I miss one or two classes in a row and it sets off a domino effect of missing class for 2 weeks or more. Which leads to making terrible food choices. Which makes me feel like a lazy loser and affects my motivation to accomplish other things I need to accomplish. Which just well...effing sucks all around. 

When I'm in the midst of one of these breaks, I tell myself this weekend you will go to the grocery store. You will make like Lauren Boggi Goldenberg and all the other beautiful Lithe unicorns that do things like brush their hair in the morning and make their own chia pudding, and you will stock up on all the good-for-you-foods that you actually do know how to incorporate into your diet. MONDAY, you will start with a healthy breakfast, and you will pack your lunch, and you will prepare a light and delicious dinner that will nourish your body and impress your husband so much he'll want to buy you jewelry. You will be back in business!

But if for some reason, my weekend of baby showers and dinners with family and laundry and other plans don't allow me to get to the store...my beautiful plan for hot body and happy jewel-bearing husband totally falls apart. I feel completely at loose ends. And cue the aforementioned domino affect. 

But why?

Why can't I go to class anyway? What does grocery shopping have to do with it? Why can't I say, well my ducks aren't in a row like I'd hoped they'd be in time for the work week, and this is going to make things a bit tougher for me, but I can still order the healthful option at this restaurant instead of the not-so-great-for-me thing. Why must EVERYTHING fly out of the window with one misstep?

Why is it so difficult for me to be balanced about health and fitness? I feel almost incapable of thinking about things in terms of their net benefit or just evening things out. If I miss a class, a balanced approach would be to then to be mindful of my food choices. If I've missed two classes, I should make it a priority to not miss a third and keep the train moving forward. Why must one missed class inevitably mean 5?

And the answer is: I don't know. I don't know why I'm so easily jump-started and even more easily de-railed. Part of me thinks that going on kicks is part of what keeps me motivated. That I enjoy the methodical preparing and ramping up of something, but once the new thrill wears off, so does my desire to keep going. But another part of me thinks it might be deeper than that. That my desire to be fit and hot and healthy is directly at odds with my other desire to be lazy and indulgent and totally spontaneous.

That maybe having my ducks in a row or being all in or out is more about these two sides of me warring with one other. That needing to have all the right groceries before working out or waiting until Monday is a way for me to justify living in the right now space of wanting to eat the unhealthy thing or watch the 3 episodes of Breaking Bad when I get home from work, while the sun's still out and good-looking, fit people jog past my window taunting me. Maybe. And perhaps that's just who I am and perhaps that's ok. But I do aspire to have balance, not just in this aspect, but in most. And for those of you with the secret, I'm all ears!

See you in class!

SAYEH'S LIVING SALAD SHIRAZI! 20 Aug 2014

Sayehll

Despite the chill that's arrived in the air in the morning, and the leaves which are already changing color outside of my window, I refuse to accept that summer is over. We still have a month left, and I need to squeeze every last drop out of it to steel myself against the coats and scarves I'll be wearing before too long. And there's nothing that's more summer on a plate than this simple salad, named after a city in Iran, that's almost more condiment than salad. You can eat it with a hard boiled egg in the morning for a simple, fresh breakfast. Put it on top of a bed of quinoa with chickpeas for a clean, filling lunch, or serve it alongside a cool, greek-style yogurt, basmati rice and chicken kabobs for dinner. Any which way, it will be a reminder that summer is still here and fall can wait. 

Ingredients

2 large, ripe juicy tomatoes

4 small (or 3 medium) Persian cucumbers, or 1.5 English/hothouse cucumbers (don't go traditional, waxy cucumber here--it makes a major difference)

1 small-medium onion (any color works)

A generous splash of olive oil (2-3 tablespoons)

The juice of 2 limes

Dried mint (optional, but delish)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Dice the tomato, cucumber, and onion to a 1/2 inch dice. Top with olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and a generous sprinkle of dried mint and toss well. You can eat it straight away, but I find that it's better after some time in the fridge, left to cool, and for the flavors to really marry, and get into the salad. 

See you in class!

SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE! 9 Jul 2014

Sayeh

I am a binger and purger. In almost every aspect of my life, other than my diet. (When it comes to food, I generally just binge.) If you've been following my column since the Lithe Diving Days (3 years now!), then you may remember my very first blog. In it, I admitted to being prone to going on kicks, making grandiose lifestyle altering gestures, buying the book, wearing the t-shirt, and preaching the sermon only to find myself rooting through drawers months later to find all of this aformentioned paraphernalia abandoned and forgotten.

This little (huge) habit? issue? of mine was brought into stark relief last week, when my husband and I moved into our new (to us) home. The cliche about moving was once again proven true--it was incredibly stressful, and seemingly never-ending. Having moved almost every year since I was 18, I'm all too familiar with those parts of the process, but there is one aspect of it I actually look forward to. Purging. My drawers, my closets, and any nook and cranny I can get a hold of. Rummaging through piles of papers or boxes that I haven't opened since the last move always proves fun, and leaves me feeling light and cleansed. Because although I'm known to hold onto the odd ticket stub or greeting card, I'm not super sentimental, and would much rather give things away to friends, donate them or trash them than have them floating around, taking up space in my life.

This time, as I prepared to rid my house of all unnecessary clutter before we moved into the new one, I didn't have that experience. Instead, the purge was horrifying. It was evidence of the polar opposite, the binge. My tendency to binge. And more than that, it was evidence of how fickle and flighty I can be. Everywhere I looked was a ridiculous purchase I made on a whim--most of it things I no longer like or use at ALL. Be it clothes, or random home goods...SUPPLEMENTS I was convinced would change my life...you name it. I found this gold little tray that I bought from Marshall's with the word NOEL on it. Each letter was made out of some Christmas object like a ribbon, or bell...what have you. It's hideous. WHY did I buy this thing? 

Clearing out my bookshelf, I found titles like YOU: On A Diet. The Flat Belly Diet. Skinny Bitch. Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. Clean Gut. Macrobiotic cookbooks. Vegan cookbooks. To be clear, my belly is neither flat, nor is my gut clean. I found a sack full of arts and crafts items I bought the ONE time I made something for my husband for Valentine's Day. In it, there was an embossing tool--a weird, fat pen that heats up glitter until it melts and looks like puff paint? WHY did I spend money on this?? WHY? I will never use it again.

The list goes on, and you get the picture. Sitting amongst the rubble of all my impulses, I couldn't help but think of all the money I had wasted on these things. How much more I could be saving or spending in other, more constructive places, and even more to the point, all of the effort and energy I had put into all of these things that I no longer use or even think about. The countless conversations I'd had extolling the virtues of the very things I was stuffing into donation bags to pass along to someone else. And as I was doing so, I couldn't help but think: What gives?

Yes, part of it is just me and how I've always been, but more than that, I'm beginning to realize that maybe this wake of fads past is actually my search for something. Perhaps that's why I do cleanses and buy books, and go to different doctors and pick up new hobbies. That maybe on some level I'm looking for a silver bullet for...something. Be it to feel a little more fulfilled or to feel more productive, to be healthier, more energetic, thinner, prettier, happier...or ultimately just more...in control. That maybe I will find something out there that I can do to feel a little less at the mercy of the whims of life and a body that modern medicine says can turn on me at any moment depending on the choices I make. 

Obviously, my rational self knows there is no silver bullet for...anything. Most wisdom dictates that, in fact, one should be wary of anything that claims to cure-all. And I think I have some work cut out for me to get to the bottom of my binge-purge tendencies. But, I will say, in all the reflecting I did as I was cleansing my home of the spoils of my spontaneity, I couldn't help but think about Lithe. That if I had to point to a panacea that has truly altered several aspects of my life, it is LitheThat it truly HAS stuck. To me, the teflon girl to which nothing, but my man, and a tan, has stuck so far. I never come across my wristbands and gloves in the back of some drawer. They are in my bag, everyday, reminding me that I have class in a few hours, or that I need to get my ass back in gear if I've let life get in the way. I've watched it change my body, and my mindset, and in turn, the domino effect has continued into all aspects of my life. That when I feel fit and strong--when I'm lithing--I do feel in control. And that perhaps the search for that thing is over--and has been for some time. 

See you in class!

 

SAYEH'S LIVING EATING...PHYSICALLY 26 Jun 2014

Sayeh

Last week, I talked about how I felt EMOTIONALLY during my intense cleanse. That I discovered that, for me, it was hard to untangle the emotions that come with eating food--any food--with the act of eating to nourish my body. That removing those feelings left me depleted emotionally. How I felt PHYSICALLY throughout the cleanse was quite different, however.

First, I have to be honest and say I didn't last the entire 3 weeks. I had about 5 days left, when I just called it quits. I went to a wedding in North Carolina, and well...BBQ called and I just couldn't do it anymore and felt like I'd gone the distance all things considered. That being said, 2.5 weeks was enough time for me to see some changes in my body. 

First, I was not nearly as bloated--something that seems to be par for the course for me after every meal. I felt less bubbly and didn't have that HEAVY post-meal feeling that often leaves me lethargic and uncomfortable. This was a big deal since all of that stuff contributes to the kind of feelings I don't like having about my food--guilt and regret. 

Another major observation was that my appetite DRASTICALLY decreased. I joked to friends it was because my body was boycotting the short list of things I could eat, but I suspect that the foods I was eating were actually giving me the nutrients I needed to feel satisfied, so I needed much less. This was HUGE. One of my biggest issues is portion control. I can EAT. I'm always hungry, and if something is delicious, even when I feel full, I can't stop won't stop. Forget doing the whole stop when you feel 80% full thing. I barely stop when I'm 80% over capacity. Eating small portions, I barely recognized myself. I would eat half my plate and just feel full. No will power needed. Nothing. I was just...done. It was crazy. 

Things that didn't happen that I was hoping would:

  • more mental clarity, focus and memory
  • a significant increase in my energy level
  • improvement in my sinuses or ability to breathe through my nose (being a mouth breather is no way to live)
  • getting things movin' (if you know what I'm sayin)

Post cleanse, I reintroduced wheat, and nothing really changed. Then I reintroduced dairy and I didn't feel anything different there either. (Disclaimer: I didn't do this part as diligently as outlined in the book). And I have to say I was weirdly disappointed that I didn't break out into hives after having a piece of toast, because the thing is, I think I did this cleanse because I was secretly hoping for there to be some magic SOMETHING that I could point to, to explain some of my issues. It's like sometimes when you go to the doctor almost hoping for a (non-threatening) diagnosis, so you can say OH?? It's THAT? Now I know what to do to fix it. I've heard so many stories of people tossing their inhalers and ditching their skin care products and never feeling better after eliminating gluten or dairy or some other food or additive, and blooming into a radiant, healthy version of themselves. 

Alas, that was not my experience. I will say I shed a couple lbs (which I immediately gained back once I reincorporated the eliminated foods) which was nice at the time, but one thing really did stand out to me AFTER I started eating normally again. My anxiety levels, which I hadn't noticed had dissipated during the cleanse, came back in full force. It was like living with a pain, and then realizing: Hey, I haven't felt that pain in a long time! Like it went away so quietly, you didn't even notice when it left (like falling asleep...slowly at first and then all at once). But when it came back, it came with a vengeance. I all of a sudden was feeling anxious and having racing, unhappy thoughts. And that hit me like a ton of bricks. Could my eating be related to my anxiety?? Have I been thinking food makes me happy, but really it stresses me OUT?? And that was no small thing. Sadly, since I sort of just mish-moshed it all up at the end, I don't know which foods (if that really is the cause) got me feeling anxious again. And once I regroup a bit from this foray into cleanse world, maybe I'll try again and pay particular focus to my psychic state rather than my physical one, when it comes to how the food I eat is affecting me. 

Overall, I would say that embarking on something like this is worthwhile. If you discover nothing physically, you uncover so much emotionally that is worth exploring. 

See you in class!

SAYEH'S LIVING RAH! 11 Jun 2014

Sayeh

Rah!

What you need: Wrist Bands! Gloves!  
Props: Twiggy Bands (velcro around your wrists), Higher Power Bands (blue bands)
Clothing Considerations: Anything goes clothing-wise in this class. If anything, I would consider a tank instead of a t-shirt. There's lots of arm swinging, and you may be more comfortable without sleeves restricting your movement. 
Sweat Factor: Cruella de Sweats-ville. You won't be drenched, but you also won't be pretty. 

Like all new classes when they first pop on the scene, Lithers have been digitally lining up weeks in advance to take Rah. As a result, I've been patiently chasing it around the schedule since its arrival, waiting for an opening, until last night when I finally got my chance to experience the hype first hand. 

I assumed from the name that it would be CCS heavy, but otherwise, I had no clue what awaited. I love this because I find that class goes by so much faster when you don't know what's going to happen next. It's the classes I know well that fill me with dread because I know exactly what awaits me in every series. 

Before we began, Tif gave us a pep talk. Telling us that not only were we about to embark on a nonstop cardio ride, but that we should think of the next 60 minutes as our time to release and basically shout shout let it all out like Tears for Fears. She told us that Lauren wanted us to think of the cheers we would be doing as a way to express our inner voices--and let go of our day and our stress. Having had an incredibly challenging couple of months, I was totally on board for this concept. 

We began the class by doing a Spirit Circle, which includes 30 reps of the typical moves we do in most high cardio classes--jacks, reach and pulls, scoops--the works. I have to be honest and say I usually hate when we do 30 of anything in a row--especially in cardio. Not only is it incredibly challenging for me, but I find it hard to stay focused because the repetition can feel monotonous. But, something about the energy and sequence of the moves in Rah didn't feel that way, despite doing 30 of each before moving to the next. From there, we launched into an incredibly fun and challenging cheer sequence that had us doing jumps, cheerleading arm moves and Sleeveless 2.0-like beat boxing. I was a bit all over the place, but I really liked it and couldn't help but smile during this part. 

From there, we grabbed the blue bands (in addition to the Twiggy bands) and doubled? quadrupled? up on the resistance to do some lunges and sculpting exercises that you'll find familiar, yet uncharted due to the extra effort required by your core to manage all the extra weight. This series also included a move that I'll leave as a mystery. Suffice it to say, it had most of us shaking our heads in disbelief. Something I find happens, at first, when Lauren pushes the envelope with new choreography. A move that inevitably evolves, for me, to become the yard stick by which I measure myself in that class. Something that results in that...Oh Mah Goh I just DID THAT moment--which I live for in Lithe. I'm not sure I'll ever get there with this particular move, but many ladies were killing it around me so I was definitely inspired. I will say that it requires some flexibility and makes you feel like you've been tossed in the air and are striking the pose at the top of a cheer stunt. Which basically rules--if you can get it right. 

Then back to the CCS and the great cheer sequence, this time broken down, and adding the words to the cheer. The curse words. Yup. You CUSS, as we say in Texas. Now, I know some people feel some type of way about cursing. I totally get it. It can be considered offensive and crude. For sure. I have even found myself a little jarred when overhearing a barrage of F bombs dropping between two ladies perusing the same rack as me at Marshall's. However, I'm a total hypocrite, because I simultaneously find little in this world more delicious than cussing. Sometimes nothing quite captures what I'm feeling like a good expletive. Sometimes I just don't feel a release until I just drop some profanity. Call me inelegant. I deserve it. 

So, when Tiff told us the perhaps controversial? words to our cheer,  I felt a combination of mischievous joy and a bit of disbelief. Topped that off with feeling a bit awkward yelling them out (while trying to stay coordinated) in a room full of strangers. But, I went with it, and when I could get it together, I thoroughly enjoyed screaming 'I don't give a SHIT' (my favorite) while I jump-jump plyo'd. 

If you are comfortable in your own skin or really want to get there, this may be just the class for you. Not only will you burn a ton of calories with the nonstop cardio, try movements that are new and challenging, you will (if you let yourself) release some pent up emotions and hopefully leave them behind in the studio. Hope you go for it!

See you in class!

 

 

25 THINGS! {BY SAYEH} 28 May 2014

Jenn

The subject of this week's 25 Things is exactly what number 7 on her list says she is--a natural born teacher. As a long time Lither, I really enjoy watching new instructors evolve--in terms of confidence, methodology and style. No instructor's evolution has struck me as much as Jenn Mitchell's has. I happened to take a Higher Power with her when she was fresh out of training, and then didn't get to take another class with her until Rock Steady a few months later. I was shocked at how comfortable and natural she had become in such a short time. She was self-possessed and had the let's-get-down-to-business focus of a veteran instructor. I came to look forward to her classes in the same way I looked forward to the classes I had in high school that were taught by my seasoned teachers--the ones who always had control of class and really knew their stuff. Read on to find out more than her time in the studio allows us to be privy to. 

  1. I am an only child.  People always ask me if I miss having siblings, frankly I do not know any different.
  2. I took tap and jazz class from the time I was 4 until I graduated high school.
  3. I started cheerleading in second grade.
  4. I actually began college at Rutgers University and spent 1 year there on the cheerleading squad.  Due to personal reasons I left after 1 year and thought I was going to have to give up cheerleading for good.
  5. I graduated from University of the Sciences, also known as Philadelphia College of Pharmacy with a Doctorate of Pharmacy degree.  I do not have a Bachelor’s degree.  
  6. I currently have 4 jobs, with numerous responsibilities.  Full-time I work at Hahnemann University Hospital as the Critical Care Pharmacist.  I round every day with physicians in the Medical ICU.  I am also the Pharmacy Residency Program Director.  Our program graduates 2 residents every year.   I am also an adjunct clinical professor at University of the Sciences.  Although I only teach 2 classes every semester, I love every minute of it.  Additionally, I precept 15 pharmacy students every year.  I also work once a month at CVS pharmacy.  AND…finally I teach lithe!  
  7. I am a natural teacher and thoroughly enjoy every moment of it, so becoming a lithe instructor was second nature to me. 
  8. I grew up in Allentown, PA just an hour north of Philadelphia.  
  9. I bought my first house almost 3 years ago, all by myself.  It was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, with the exception of graduating from college.  
  10. I love being busy.  During my senior year of high school, I took dance and piano lessons, was captain of the cheerleading squad, editor-in-chief of the school yearbook, and class treasurer. 
  11. I also took piano lessons from the age of 4 until I graduated high school. But I have barely played in almost 15 years.
  12. My fiancé bought me a keyboard last year for Christmas.  I am just too busy to find time to practice.  It is very relaxing to just sit and play! 
  13. My fiancé and I have been together for over 3 years.  We recently got engaged this past New Year’s Day in Paris.  He proposed on the lover’s lock bridge, Pont des Arts.  He made sure to bring a lock, in fact he brought 2!  One was engraved Will you Marry me, the other we left on the bridge. 
  14. I am very clumsy.  I have been known to stumble, trip and fall over nearly anything.  In fact, those of you who take my classes may have seen my falls up the instructor platform once or twice or even the more than occasional stubbing of my toe on weights throughout the room! 
  15. I RARELY cook.  I missed cooking 101 during my childhood.  When I was in college I burned nearly everything from soup to eggs.  My fiancé does all the cooking.  
  16. My favorite food is pizza!  I could eat pizza EVERYDAY if I was allowed.  I still splurge about once a week! 
  17. I absolutely love attending sporting events.  My 2 favorite are football and baseball.  My dad has had season tickets to Penn State Football since before I was born.  I continue to go to about 2 games a year.  
  18. My fiancé and I finally were able to obtain our own season tickets for the Philadelphia Eagles.  We are so excited about the upcoming season. Go Birds! 
  19. I also go to numerous Phillies games, some Flyers games and occasionally go to see the Sixers.
  20. I am also a HUGE concert fanatic.  I do not ever want to miss a concert.  In fact I am very upset that I was never able to see Michael Jacskson or Whitney Houston in concert.  My very first concert was the Beach Boys with my dad when I was 9.  Every year I go to see Jimmy Buffett with my dad as a father daughter outing.  This year marks year 10! My favorite concert of all time is ColdPlay....although Justin Timberlake puts on a great show.  I am going to see him again in December!  
  21. I have a black cat, she was rescued by my best friend from underneath a shed over 4 years ago.  Her name is Sasha.  She recently got a brother, my fiance's cat, Tiger.  He is 12.  It's a bit weird living with cats, as I grew up with dog's!
  22. I met my best friend Niccole in 5th grade.  We still see each other often and talks most days of the week.  I don't know how I would get through life without her!
  23. I have been fortunate to travel many places within the United States, however I only got a passport in 2008!  Now I absolutely love seeing the world.  Most recently I was in Costa Rica! 
  24. I have a fear of elevators.  Although I often do not have a choice, I still get a bit of anxiety every time I get in one!
  25. Due to schoolwork and trying to establish myself at work, I fell off the workout bandwagon for many years during college and immediately after. Thankfully I discovered Groupon and Living Social in 2010 and started taking classes anywhere I possibly could, including Lithe Method! Yup, thanks to a Living Social voucher, I discovered Lithe!  Lithe allowed me lose 12 lbs in just a few months and get my blood pressure under control.  I no longer require a medication. 

25 THINGS! {BY SAYEH} 21 May 2014

Meredith

The subject of this week's 25 Things is one of the newer instructor faces around the studios, and she is a welcome addition. I've only taken a couple of classes with Meredith Steinberg, but her careful attention to form and technique, coupled with her genuinely NICE and supportive personality was immediately apparent. When she broke down a move I had been doing for a long time--incorrectly--her class brought me back to the fundamentals of Lithe and how to do them WELL. This was so beneficial to me as a veteran Lither, but I also thought of new Lithers, and how happy I am that they will encounter Meredith as they embark on the often terrifying prospect of going to a Lithe class. I thought that through her, they will learn how to Lithe correctly, and feel both encouraged and pushed in her incredibly gentle way. After reading her 25 Things, it won't be difficult to realize how her background has prepared her perfectly to do just that. I look forward to watching her evolve as an instructor and hope you will too. 

  1. I grew up in Larchmont, NY, a suburb north of New York City.
  2. I received my BA in Dance & Theater from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and my MFA in Dance from Temple University in Philadelphia.
  3. I lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn for four years before moving to Philadelphia for graduate school.
  4. In New York I worked in arts administration, dance education, arts producing, and exhibition management. One of my favorite jobs was at the Guggenheim Museum, where I trained 120 children to participate in a live exhibit by the artist Tino Sehgal.
  5. I currently work full-time at the Performance Garage, a non-profit dance organization in Philadelphia. I manage marketing and fundraising initiatives and oversee our youth outreach program. I love supporting local dancers and emerging choreographers.
  6. I am a certified Vinyasa Yoga teacher and have completed over 300 hours of training in yoga postures, anatomy and therapeutics, sequencing, and philosophy. I am always happy to talk about alignment and form!
  7. I have had injuries to my shoulders, knees, and foot. I think it’s so important to listen to our bodies, modify when we need to, and find ways of moving that are healing—not painful!
  8. I am an early riser. 6AM classes are my favorite.
  9. I have taught dance to students of all ages. I currently teach pre-ballet to very cute 4 year-olds at Koresh Dance Company. In grad school I taught large undergraduate lecture courses focusing on analyzing dance performances through aesthetic, cultural, and historical lenses.  
  10. I have a background as a choreographer, theater director, and performer. I like creating work that is surprising, unconventional, and fun. I have studied many dance forms, but most love improvisation and physical theater.
  11. For a class in grad school I performed a dance piece in the middle of a crosswalk, barefoot in the winter. A passerby called the police because he thought I needed help.
  12.  I grew up taking classes in tap, jazz, and hip hop. I still catch myself tapping while waiting for the subway.
  13. I have always liked board games. I have a poster on my wall of all of the 2-letter Scrabble words.
  14. I took a semester off in college and worked on a dairy farm, herding and milking cows and making cheese.
  15. My full name is Meredith A. Steinberg. The A doesn’t stand for anything.
  16. I love reading on the beach.
  17. I spontaneously make up songs about almost anything: my dog, my houseplants, my sister’s IKEA bookcase.
  18. I can play the piano, violin, carillon, and a few chords on the guitar.
  19. I’d like to build a Rube Goldberg machine one day.
  20. I met my boyfriend Ben on our front stoop when we lived in the same brownstone on Spruce Street. He is an Emergency Medicine Resident at Hahnemann Hospital. Here’s a photo of him Lithing on Instagram!
  21. Ben and I rescued our dog Fergus this year. He is the sweetest little Shih Tzu/Poodle mix and is so friendly. He is my first pet and I absolutely adore him!
  22. I do a lot of yoga and foam-rolling in my living room. When Ben and I were apartment hunting one of my requirements was a wall where I could practice handstands.  
  23. I have two smart and beautiful sisters. My younger sister Genna is an associate at a law firm in New York. She loves dogs and never gets tired of looking at pictures of Fergus. My older sister Beth is developmentally disabled, and is the most sweet-tempered person you’ll ever meet. I gained so much from growing up surrounded by the special needs community.
  24. I wasn’t sure what to write about myself for this post, so I consulted a team of advisors. My sister said to list 25 things that I don’t like (close-mindedness, dill). My boyfriend said to list 25 things about Fergus (enjoys jumping, buries food). My dad said to say, “I owe all my musicality and talent to my father, who is a jazz drummer.” My mom said to tell you that I have a very supportive family (it’s true) and that she once took Lithe 101 and loved it.
  25. I found Lithe through my friend Jennie Katz. (Thanks Jennie!) I love the attention to form, the hardcore but graceful quality of the movement, and the fun energy when we’re all in sync with our CCS. I’m always genuinely happy to be in the studio, whether teaching or taking class. Thanks to all of you for being so lovely to work with!  

Images via Meredith & Dom

SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE! 14 May 2014

Ll-7

Recently, I went to COOK, Philadelphia's Collaborative Kitchen Classroom, for a Persian food demonstration. The chef, Louisa Shafia, was the author of a cookbook I had been eyeing for some time called The New Persian Kitchen. I sat for 3 hours while I listened to Louisa (a Philly native, btw) describe her life with a Persian father and Jewish mother, and how she came to rediscover and fall in love with Persian cuisine and the heritage it so richly reflects. It was immediately clear to me that she had done extensive research on the history and provenance of classic Persian ingredients and the traditional dishes they comprise, yet it was her fresh riffs and personal interpretations of those dishes that delighted me the most. Other than Louisa, I was the only other Iranian in the room, and I have to say I was so unexpectedly moved by the experience. To be in a room full of Americans--of diverse backgrounds--all discussing Iran, and sampling its food was truly special, and made me incredibly proud and grateful. Needless to say, I came home with a volume of recipes that's been rocking my world ever since. 

One of the things I love most about Persian food, other than how delicious and healthy it is, is that it requires a kind of meditative assembly--both in preparing it and in eating it. Whole ingredients are often arranged beautifully on a plate--whole radishes, whole chunks of feta, whole raw herbs--yet they aren't considered garnishes, and there are no appetizers. Everything comes out together and is meant to be eaten with one another. Everything is a complimentary condiment of everything else. And that kind of eating--process eating, I call it--is my favorite. Taking a bit of this, and dipping it into a dollop of that...sprinkling a little of this onto a slice of that makes eating feel (to me) so much more communal and thoughtful--carefully considering what combinations you will arrange for your next bite.  And nothing makes me crave foods like this--foods that require more assembly than cooking (or assembly after the cooking)--than warm temps and summer months. 

I grew up watching my mother and grandmother toil in the kitchen for hours on end preparing vast Persian feasts (always preparing enough to accomomdate the possibility of unexpected guests or overfeeding the expected ones is the goal here). And although the memories are filled with the sounds of clanging pots, and the aromas of tons of fresh herbs, I have always been overwhelmed at the prospect of making my favorites on my own. The New Persian Kitchen, on the other hand, truly makes these dishes approachable and manageable, and dare I say, fool proof! Louisa even includes lots of tips and tricks to achieve the elusive Tahdig--the coveted golden rice left at the bottom of a pot--which typically takes serious practice. (I have yet to master it.) If you've been intrigued by, tried or enjoyed any of my own Persian recipes which I've featured on the blog in the past, you will love this book. 

The extra good news is that these dishes emphasize local, seasonal ingredients, good fats and are rife with herbs and spices, like turmeric, that boast a variety of healing properties. So for those of us gearing up for summer by taking part in the T-Minus 30 challenge, or just trying to clean up our eating in preparation of bikini season, not to worry, these recipes will leave you feeling light and clean and well on your way to your goals.

One of my favorites is the Cold Pistachio Soup with Mint and Leeks (Soup-e Pesteh)

Serves 4 to 6

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 pound leeks, green and white parts, coarsely chopped
1 cup pistachios, shelled
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt
7 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
About 2 cups loosely packed fresh spearmint
Juice of 2 lemons
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, until soft. Cook the leeks in batches, if they don’t all fit at once.

Stir in the pistachios, garlic, cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the spearmint. Transfer to a blender, blend until smooth, and add salt to taste. Serve warm, or pour into a shallow baking dish and refrigerate for 2 hours, until thoroughly chilled. Season with lemon juice and pepper, and serve.

Enjoy! See you in class!

SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE TIPS! {CONT'D} 16 Apr 2014

Sayeh

Last week, I shared 5 of my tips for getting the most out of my classes and staying motivated through the Earned in Winter challenge. This week, a few more. 

1. Front and Center: Yesterday, I fought the rain and a mangled umbrella to walk into class late, right as the stretching started. There were no mats left, except for in the very front of the room, right in front of the instructor and everyone else. I grumbled to myself. I usually like to stay off to the side, not too far away, but far enough from the spotlight so I was loath to take my position. But, it was SUCH a boost to my motivation. I didn't feel like I could slack with so many people behind me. It gave me a little kick in the pants to get my knees up, my butt down and to take less breaks. (Don't be scared to try this. The reality is that no one is really paying attention, unless they are looking for a leader. I rarely see the girl at the front, since there are so many people between her and me and I'm concentrating on myself.) Even still though, you feel the pressure anyway, and it helps.

2. Schedule Smart: If you're like me, you already spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what classes you're going to take--which instructors, on which days, in which studios. (Can I get an amen??) But, somehow, despite this, I often don't take my whole scheduling picture--social life and habits--into consideration when I get on MindBody. I tend to focus more on getting on the schedule at all, rather than scheduling smart. This leads me to forget about a meeting or dinner plans, which has me realizing--way too late--that I should have scheduled a morning class that day, instead of an afternoon one. So, I've begun keeping my smart phone calendar out in front of me when scheduling so I can't forget about the commitments I can't move. Taking it a step further, I'm also trying to gauge patterns in my energy. When am I up-beat? When am I dragging? If I know that Monday afternoons are a low-energy time for me, I don't schedule myself for a high cardio class for that slot. Instead, I pre-plan for a low-impact, sculpting class that day so I'll be more likely to follow through with it.

3. You're So Vain: On last week's post, someone shared their tip of looking in the mirror, and it's a really good one. Getting yourself in a place where you can get a clear look at yourself in the mirror is a good habit. I know most of us feel uncomfortable gazing at ourselves for 60 minutes. (I personally find it challenging not to focus on the parts of my body that I'm unhappy with, or the rogue hairs sprouting all over my face), but it's actually proven good practice for me in multiple ways. Not least of which is to encourage myself to look beyond my insecurities to my form. When I can SEE what I'm doing, then I can make adjustments. When an instructor yells FLAT BACK, I can check and see if I'm flat and adjust. When she asks me to make sure my knee isn't going over my ankle during lunges, I can double check from the side reflection. Keeping tabs on form through the mirror has helped me vastly improve. 

4. Stretch Armstrong: I hate stretching. I'm using the word HATE about stretching. I know how crucial it is, but still I hate it. It hurts. I'm inflexible and I suck at it. It's one of the reasons I hate being in class early, because I feel forced to stretch on my own--like others around me--and I just don't wanna. BUT, I do commit to the stretching IN class. I know it's not much, but that makes it all the more important. Before and AFTER the class. We've all been there, when we are lithing at lunch and need to hurry back to work, or we have a ride waiting on us downstairs, so we skip the stretching at the end, step over some people, and get a towel and rush back to our mats and out of class before everyone else. I certainly have. But, there are some folks that make this the rule rather than the exception just to beat the locker room rush, and I can't help but feel like I'm getting cheated out of my much needed stretch when girls are stepping over me or spraying me with mat cleaner while I'm down in a straddle. We all need a stretch, even if it's just a few moves, and let's be honest, hitting the elevators two minutes before everyone else isn't worth skipping out on it. A few stretches a few times a week, really does add up to increased flexibility. So stay to the end of class (if you actually have the time), I and your neighbors, and your body, will thank you for it. 

See you in class!

SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE TIPS! 9 Apr 2014

Sayeh

Whether you're in the midst of the second phase of your Earned in Winter challenge, or some variation of your own challenge, I think we are all feeling the sudden urgency of beach weekends, and the swimsuits that go with them, fast approaching. (This is crazy since 5 minutes ago it was snowing, and I felt like we were never going to see temps rise over 25, and summer felt so so far away). 

As we all rev it up a bit, I'm feeling the need for motivation more than ever. And as I've completed my nine days, and ramped up to 5 or 6 days a week since, I've been paying attention to the things that keep me going and thought I would share 5 of those things with you in hopes that they may be helpful to you too.

  1. FOCUS: We all know that being mindful in class is important. Zoning out means form gets sloppy, and we don't get the most out of our workout (story of my life). So, I've been taking that concept a bit further to make sure I stay present by focusing on some THING every class. Lately, it's been my breath. Expanding my rib cage and then contracting and knitting it back together on every single inhale/exhale is quite the challenge and quite the workout. In other classes, I focus on things like completely straightening my leg and pulling up on my knee caps at the barre. Choosing one thing to work on helps me to not only stay present, but  also helps me to push myself to really perfect my form.
  2. GET COMFORTABLE: Nothing ruins my life more than wearing my oldest, most ill-fitting sports bra to a high cardio class. I've been finding that paying attention to class descriptions, and wearing the appropriate clothes and having the appropriate gear (gloves, sweat bands) makes a world of difference in my ability to work out effectively. When the bands are chafing my wrists because I've forgotten my wrist bands, or hurting my ankles because I didn't wear long pants, I focus more on my discomfort than anything else. If I don't take the time to strap into my bands correctly at the beginning of class, I'm battling with rogue velcro for 60 minutes rather than getting lower, jumping higher and squatting longer. Having everything you need--from your water to the right wunder unders is key. 
  3. THINK BODY PARTS: When instructors say: You should feel this in your BLANK, I realize where I should be feeling it and it helps me big time. I adjust my body to feel it there--wherever there is--and all of a sudden I'm doing it--whatever it is--correctly. I learned long ago if you're not feeling IT during a Lithe move, you're not doing it right. Recently, in Tight End, after realizing my inner thighs were the focus, I took all my focus to them--literally thinking INNER THIGHS, INNER THIGHS over and over again with every deep lunge, and it helped me to push through the impossible (for me) box series in that class. Connecting the move with the body part it should be sculpting, helped me to stay motivated to stick with it. 
  4. GET DOWN WITH THE GET DOWN: Listen. I'm not gonna lie. There's nothing I hate more than when an instructor tells me to smile and have fun. Literally nothing. I'm pouring sweat, my thighs are burning, my hair is stuck to my head, my muscles are quaking, the room is so hot, I feel like I'm in bikram Lithe and it's all I can do to focus on my inner thighs and my breath and not keel over onto the girl directly behind me. I DON'T WANT TO SMILE. I DON'T WANT TO HAVE FUN. I just want to GET THROUGH IT. Must I LOVE the torture?? Isn't it enough that I'm here? Have you no SOULS?? But then, some times, some days (if the music is right and I'l slightly less curmudgeonly than usual), I do smile and I do get down, and put a little fun and attitude into my CCS, and I have to admit it really does help. So even though I'm shaking my fist on the inside, Lithing with abandon really is...fun...and does make me smile. Eek. I hate myself. 
  5. FOLLOW A LEADER: Every class has a veteran lither in it, with incredible form. When I'm struggling, I lock my eyes on her and strive to match her drive and form. She shows me how to do the hip swivel thing right, keep in rhythm during complicated CCS, and generally stick to it. There's inspiration all around us in our classes. 

Keep on keepin on ladies. I'm inspired by all the hard work I see around me, and by the pictures for the #earnedinwinter series on the blog. If you have your own tips, feel free to share! I can use as many as I can get!

See you in class!

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