“Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life,  I am not going to waste it.   I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.   I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,  I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” – Dalai Lama

I had the opportunity to drive across one of our beautiful bridges last week and couldn't help but notice the sun sparkling on the glassy, still waters.  The Gulf was as calm as the sky was blue.  This is a beauty we often take for granted in our everyday lives, but if we stop for moment and notice our surroundings, we become more aware of just how blessed we truly are and how beautiful the world can be.  As I gazed out onto the water, I noticed a ripple in the perfectly smooth water.  As I looked closer to notice the imperfection in the water which had just appeared to be a sheet of glass, I saw two dolphins playing and chasing one another- another beautiful sight.  Our lives are going to ripple from time to time, for this is life, but if we focus more on the good, our attitudes change and our minds start to calm.  We should all awake daily with gratitude, expressing our thanks for all the good we have in our life.  It's simple, easy to do, will change our outlook and our livelihood.  Start your day by giving thanks and watch yourself grow into a more positive, happier person.  Achieve things you never thought possible.  Tap into your true purpose in life and spread the joy, infecting others with your positive outlook, and start to notice the change in how you feel.

Clear your mind of the things that challenge, worry and annoy you.  Shift your focus to the blessings in your life and express thanks.  Our blessings can be simple things like electricity, food on the table, water, or a roof over our head, or more complex like children, a loving spouse, family and friends.  What about you personally?  Do you have a working, able body?  Then you are blessed.  Exercise that able body and be thankful for your health each day.  Yes, some of us may have hiccups or ripples with our health and fitness, but if you're able, you must at least give it your all.  

View the 7 Steps to Effective Gratitude 

Feed that thought of gratefulness and watch your spirits rise.  Notice the beauty around you everyday and lend a helping hand when you can.  If you're quick to judge someone else, stop for a moment and realize you don't know their situation and have no business judging anyone but yourself.  A change in your attitude with a more positive outlook will change the way you view other people, giving them the fair chance we all deserve.  

Start by taking a minute of your morning each day to think of at least 5 things you are thankful for that day.  This could be shelter, people who have done something nice for you, your job, a hot morning shower, or just the fact that you're able to get out of bed and start another blessed day.  Try to fit in an exercise routine into your schedule.  You will boost your mood, energy and sense of gratefulness.  Exercise is proven to be good for your mood.

As you go through your day, you are bound to hit a ripple or two.  For each ripple, choose a blessing, again shifting your
focus to something good in your life and allow it to outweigh the bad.  We have many things to be thankful for if we just take a moment to reflect.  If you tend to anger easily, slow down, take a deep breath and be thankful for something else.  You will notice your attitude start to change and your mind start to calm.

View a challenge as an opportunity.  Be grateful for the challenge and hit it head on, with passion and confidence.  We often are quick to complain about our challenges which just waste time and energy.  By taking the challenge, we are one step closer to fulfilling our purpose with a positive attitude and continue to move forward.

We all experience loss and heartache and this is one of the hardest things to overcome in this thing we call life.  Count the many blessings you've experienced because of the person you've lost and be thankful for the role they played in your life.  If it's heartache you've experienced, your challenge is to overcome the pain with time and maintain a positive outlook.  You will realize over time that the experience has only helped you to grow stronger and closer to your true purpose in life.  This is a great time to pay closer attention to the other important people in your life and express your love and appreciation for them as they are here for you now.

Last, but certainly not least,
concentrate on the things you DO have and not what you don't.  You do have control over your thoughts and how to direct them.  A positive attitude of gratitude brings on a certain kind of energy that will quickly change the way you look at your life and the world around you.  When you focus on gratitude, you shift your energy mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, so  infuse the mind, body and spirit and experience the Power of Gratitude.

How is your flame burning today?  It's been a very long week for me so far and I've been working long hours as well so I am feeling exhausted.  I took notice to this exhaustion mid week, feeling drained of ideas, emotions and energy.  You've felt this way before, we all have.  My Dad would say to me, "You're burning the candle at both ends and you know what that means".  This is so true, when you don't stop for a moment to notice the other things around you and take a break, you start to burn your energy from both ends - eventually burning out all together. 

When we burn out, we become emotionally, mentally and physically drained.  
(The Symptoms of Burnout) It occurs when we start to feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to meet constant demands.  It saps our energy, leaving us feeling hopeless, cynical and sometimes even resentful.  Eventually, you start to feel as if you have nothing left to give.

We all have days when we are pulled in many different directions, feeling unappreciated and unproductive with little concentration on the things we really want to be doing.  Does this cause the burnout or do we bring some of it on ourselves?  (Do I have adult ADD?) Well, if I had to answer the first question for myself, I would say I do bring some of it on myself.  I tend to take on too many task at once.  When you add that to my tendency for perfection and impatience, you get a completely overwhelmed, over-tired version of the typical happy-go-lucky me.  Do I have adult ADD?  Well, the verdict is still out on that, but my father would probably say yes to that question.

During my career in sales, I often worked long hours, traveled to different time zones, other countries, and entertained clients into the late hours of the night.  I am always passionate about my work and this was no different in the sales world.  If I was trying to win a new client, sell a product or start a marketing campaign for a product in place, I would put in my all and then some.  This often led to burnout mode for me in my career and my personal life.  It would usually lead to pure exhaustion, lack of energy and often attack my immune system, physically making me sick.  What I learned from that experience over the years is to notice the signs of burn out as they start and hit them head on to prevent burning that candle from the other end.  After all, your light is only "on" if the candle is actually burning.  I am still very passionate about my work and I do tend to work long hours and often late at night, but now, when the signs of burn out start to appear, I try to handle things a little differently.  Below are a few things you might want to consider if you are starting to experience your flame burning out.

Stretch and Breathe.  When we stretch our body or practice Yoga, while paying attention to our breath, our blood starts to flow more freely and our body and mind start to relax.
 (The Benefits of Yoga) If you're stressed from sitting in the same position for a long period of time, like a desk or car, take a moment to take some deep breaths and stretch your muscles.  You will instantly feel a release.

 (Relaxation and Wellness) Whether it's an earlier bedtime, a later wake up or just some down time on the sofa, take time to unplug and rest your mind.  Our best ideas often come while we are in a more relaxed state of mind.

Exercise.  Go out for a brisk walk and take the dog if you have one.  Absorb the sunlight and admire the beauty of the great outdoors.  The fresh air opens your mind, and allows you to peacefully reflect on your day, or your week, so you can prioritize your ideas and tasks at hand.  Hit the gym or take a ride on your bike.  When you physically engage the body, your mind will start to clear and you will have more energy and resilience to deal with the hassle of life and its many demands.
(Combat Stress with Movement)

Make Time for a Friend.  These days, we are all so busy, we often lose touch with good friends or rarely, actually spend time with them.  A friend that makes you laugh and is generally fun to hang out with will lift your spirits.  For us ladies, a little venting often releases a lot of stress as well, and a good friend will let you vent.  Just make sure it isn't always about the venting and more about just hanging out and enjoying each other's time.  
(Friendship is good for the body and the soul)

Pray or Meditate.
(The Benefits of Meditation) This is a spiritual release and a time for you to be completely alone with your thoughts and your faith.  Allow yourself this time to fill your mind with gratitude and rejuvenate your spirit. (The Benefits of Prayer on our spirit)

Eat Healthy Foods and Hydrate:  Dehydration is often overlooked and can bring on a feeling of pure exhaustion.  Now, when I say hydrate, I don't mean grab a can of soda or a glass of sweet tea.  Drink water and plenty of it
(and not the flavored water made with Splenda or Sucralose).  When dehydration sets in, we first start to feel tired, lose concentration and maybe even develop a headache.  It's one of the easiest and healthiest things we can do for our bodies so drink your water.  (The Importance of Hydration)  Eat your colors and grab a snack.  A healthy diet of fruits and vegetables increase our energy.  Light, healthy snacking throughout the day curves our appetite and keeps us on our toes, helping us get through our busy days.

So, Dad, if you're reading my blog today, you'll be happy to know that I will be taking my own advice.  I decided to unplug last night and relax on the sofa with my husband, drink a tall glass of water and go to bed rather early (for me anyway).  Today, I feel rejuvenated, full of new ideas and got a great workout with my Spinners in an Irish Jig ride this morning.  I have been stretching a lot today to get my blood flowing and the difference in my mobility is amazing.  I have also taken the time to pray and express my gratitude for the warnings of burnout.  Tonight, I will make the time for friends as I have plans to spend the evening with the girls for a St. Patrick's Day celebration.  If you are experiencing the signs of burnout and feel you don't have the time in your day to practice the tips I've offered above, I suggest you imagine the outcome if you don't.  Remember, a burning candle, if only from one end, is better than no flame at all.

It was a wet morning in the Tampa Bay are today so the crowd was down a bit at the Y.  We still had a great turn out in the spin room this morning and got a great workout with awesome new music.  We road an all terrain ride in the Interval Energy Zone today titled "How We Roll" and burned more than 500 calories.  If you were in class today or you're just interested in the playlist, you can now find it right here on Fusion.  Go to the Tune In to Tunes page and click on the Playlist Archive link for today's "How We Roll".

I announced the newly published website to my Spinners this week and hope they'll find it to be a valuable tool.  I am venturing a little out of my comfort zone with this, but catching on quick.  This is actually my second website to design, but first to carry a blog, downloads and links.  I designed my first website on my Mac and it was primarily a portfolio of my arts n' crafts work for a home business I ran for a few years called Urban Sass.  Many who have just met me in the past couple of years may not know I have a love for art and use to create and sell my work.   I've drifted away from the arts n' crafts business now as my focus has completely shifted to fitness.  I still dabble in arts n' crafts from time to time and will make things for people if prompted, but decided to close the business a couple of years ago when the economy crashed.  My products consisted of jewelry, purses, custom floral arrangements and home decor.

Another reason for closing the business was the lack of time I had to keep up with the fit lifestyle I preferred and spend time with my family.  You would still find me at the gym a few times a week, but often my focus was on my work and not my work out.  When you are in the arts n' crafts business, you are constantly dealing with new ideas, shopping for supplies and unfinished projects, not to mention a very large mess.  Needless to say, I was consumed with it 24/7 and decided to give it a rest.

My passion for Spinning and cycling in general has brought me to where I am today and hope I will be able to make Fusion a one stop shop for fitness motivation, support, music, healthy tips and product links.  My head is spinning with ideas and I can't wait to share them with you here on Fusion.

This has been an exciting, yet exhausting week so far.  With daily changes and adjustments to keep up with on the new website and several classes to design for the week, I have been a very busy girl.

I finally posted a playlist and ride profile on the "Tune in to Tunes" page and plan to post more before the nights end.  You will also find great links to new album releases, the music from the Grammy's this year and some of my personal faves.  I will continue to update this page on a regular basis.  Definitely check in this weekend for Thursday's ride playlist title "How We Roll" with lots of new tracks you won't want to miss.

My hard work officially started on Saturday when I took on the challenge of a group ride on the open road.  I have always been a biker, but always preferred a mountain bike and loved to ride off road.  Last year, my husband surprised me with my first road bike.  I have taken it out from time to time, but have to admit, I was terrified of traffic and thought I was way too inexperienced to ride with a group.  Well, something came over me and after turning down many invites to ride with different groups, I finally decided it was time to kick it up a notch and take on the challenge....and so I did.  I signed up for the MS Training ride with Trek and went out of Clearwater on Saturday for what was suppose to be a 40 mile ride.  We got a little turned around on the course somewhere in Pasco county which tacked on another 5 miles or so.  A challenge, yes, but impossible, absolutely not.  I loved every minute of it and can't wait to do it again.  I found that by taking on the new challenge of riding with a group, I have met new, exciting people, will now be informed of cool and interesting ride opportunities which will only enhance my riding skills and my experience as a road biker.  I do still love to ride off road, but will be able to use the road biking experience for coaching and visualization in the spin room.  I have found a new passion....just add it to the list!

We've have worked hard this week in the spin room with an Interval Energy Zone ride titled "Push & Pull" on Monday consisting of jumps, runs, short climbs and fast flats burning more than 530 calories.

Tuesday, we worked out our frustrations on the resistance in the Strength Energy Zone.  We got our "Retro Groove" on with sounds from the 80's and great mixes from Depeche Mode and a few a made myself.  We were able to maintain a steady heart rate between 75 - 85%, but that became a bigger challenge toward the end as we pushed it up that last big climb.  It was a challenge indeed.

We will kick it up a notch in "How We Roll" tomorrow with an all terrain, high energy challenge in the Interval Energy Zone.  If you're riding tomorrow, get your rest, eat your breakfast, and get ready for a great challenge and a lot of fun, for it's time we kick it up!
Whatever your goals are in fitness and in life, take on the challenge and just OWN IT!

That is exactly what we did in the spin room this morning.  With a very full class and many willing to take on the challenge, we owned the road today on an all terrain journey in the Interval Energy Zone.  I had a request for The Black Eyed Peas so we cranked it up with an awesome high energy R&B / Hip Hop playlist on fast flats, runs, and challenging climbs.  The motivation today was to OWN IT, own the road, own your own mind and own an uplifted spirit.  The sky was the limit with this energy packed playlist which started with our warm up to Own It (The Black Eyed Peas), a standing flat and slight incline to Everything is Wonderful (The Black Eyed Peas), and proceeded with This is My Life (Anna Bergendahi), The Sky's the Limit (Jason Derulo), To The Top (Gentlemen), Pump It (The Black Eyed Peas), Stronger (Kanye West), Cooler Than Me (Mike Posner), The Time (The Black Eyed Peas) and Fighter (Christina Aguilera).  We finished strong and still had time in the class for an awesome, spirit lifting recovery with our eyes closed in a completely dark room to Man In The Mirror (Michael Jackson).  The riders all left with a feeling of accomplishment and self worth and ready for the beautiful weekend we have coming our way here in Tampa Bay.  For my calorie counters today, my heart rate monitor read 530 when we disengaged, so keep up the good work, get your fuel and drink that water.  You earned it and you OWNed IT!

Yesterday, I rode a double in the spin room, taking the opportunity to ride with another instructor and it was fabulous.  I had planned to stay on a flat road to prepare myself for a big ride this weekend, but I just couldn't resist.  She coached us through a profile of long runs and long climbs titled "Running with Wild Horses".  It was an awesome profile and great to be in the back corner and in my own zone for a change.  I loved every minute of it and got a great warm up in before my Thursday class began.

Tomorrow at sun up, I'll be out on the open road for Trek's MS Training Ride in Clearwater and Tarpon Springs.  Here's hoping my legs are still strong for the 40 mile group ride in the great outdoors.  I am feeling confident and ready to OWN the road.
"Stride forward with a firm, steady step knowing with a deep, certain inner knowing that you will reach every goal you set yourselves, that you will achieve every aim." - Eileen Caddy

Time for a Run.  I first must admit, I am not much of a runner.  I have given it a shot, but haven't ever found the love I find on the bicycle.  It is however, a good idea to mix things up a bit from time to time so today in the spin room, we ran, focusing on our stride, our breath, and a steady pace.  We hit the track in the spin room today with a ride titled "Stride".  We basically ran 2 laps and walked 1 in between, then repeated this till we ran a total of 10 laps.  Our heart rates skyrocketed in the Interval Energy Zone taking us to our max on the runs and lowering a bit on the flat roads in between.  The room was packed full of runners this morning and their was no holding back.  The energy was flowing and I was told by a few riders that it was the hardest ride they'd ever experienced in the spin room.  The big beats kept us going strong till the end with a nice flat road warm up to Serenade (Rio), our first run then flat with a mix titled You should be/Wiggle It/Get Ready for This (2 Unlimited).  We continued with our steady pace to Blood is Pumping (Voodoo & Serano), Can You Feel It (Rio), Galvanize (The Chemical Brothers), Faster Kill Pussycat (Oakenfold), Higer (Taio Cruz), Rock Your Body Rock (Ferry Corsten), I Like It (Enrique Iglesias feat. Pit Bull) and Stuck On Replay (Scooter).  I closed this high energy run on a flat road of recovery to We Are Alive (Paul Van Dyk).  We all made it through and we are ALIVE with energy, ready for the next one!

Never Say Never!

GOALS:  The ability to succeed requires the realization of what one wants and the passionate desire to attain it!

"Within each of us is a hidden store of energy. Energy we can release to compete in the marathon of life. Within each of us is a hidden store of courage, courage to give us the strength to face any challenge. Within each of us is a hidden store of determination. Determination to keep us in the race when all seems lost." - Roger Dawson

Spring is approaching and we are now in month three of the new year.  For many of us, the new year is an opportunity to refresh and set new goals.  As we approach another season in the new year, we need to analyze those goals and our stride and make any adjustments needed to prevent us from burning out.  For some, this may call for adding another form of exercise to our routine to shock the muscles a bit.  Others may need to just step it up, as they have had plenty of time to build a base and are ready for more of a challenge in their existing routine.  What Goals did you set for yourself this year for health and fitness?  Are you reaching those goals or do you need to re-evaluate and make some changes?  If you've reached your goals already, then GREAT, set new ones.  If you need to shake things up a bit, make the change and keep moving forward.  As we approach Spring in Florida, our energy starts to rise with the clear blue skies, pleasant weather and the fresh new blooms of the season.  This is the perfect opportunity to freshen up our successful path and maintain a Stride Forward attitude.  Remember to Aim High and tap into that hidden energy within you!

"As you reach your goals, set new ones.  That is how you grow and become a more powerful person." - Les Brown

Never Say Never and Never Give Up!

Frustration tends to build in the best of us and sometimes can create a nasty storm a brewing within us.  Staying physically active helps me release that frustration, keeping me focused and connected.  If you're feeling stressed, set your mind at ease, crank up some music and get active.  Take notice of your mood and figure out what type of activity your body needs to release that frustration, whether it be heart pumping beats on a run or weight session, a spin class or a nice ride outdoors, some dancing fun in a Zumba class, or soft relaxing music and a few yoga stretches with focused breathing.  Obviously, my favorite release is in the Spin room.  I find that being surrounded by the music, the group energy and my own personal goals leave me full of good energy that continues to flow through me for the remainder of my day.  I do, however enjoy an outside ride, I like to resistance train with weights and I do quite a bit of yoga.    It is proven that exercise burns away chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine known to cause stress.  By releasing endorphins and other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin into your system, one of our great rewards from vigorous exercise is the feeling of elation, self confidence and well being.  The key is consistency.  By maintaining a regular routine of stress releasing activity, we are better connected in mind, body and spirit.  We not only look better, be we feel better too.

We've certainly been active in the Spin room this week with, so far, two extremely challenging rides in my classes.  In Monday's ride titled "Spin Me Round", we rode an all terrain road in the Interval Energy Zone, spiking our heart rates with runs, jumps, climbs and sprints.  This ride had it all and worked us hard.  Stay tuned as I will soon post the playlist with links to itunes for downloading.  For my riders tuning into my blog, it was a 500 calorie burner and only primed the legs for more hard work on the roads ahead.

We awoke to a cloudy day in Tampa Bay this morning, and then pouring rain, which was very appropriate for my 9:15 class, "The Storm Climb".  In the Strength Energy Zone, we build resistance and then build some more, prompting us to push harder and harder as if we are elevating up a very steep hill.  This is just what we did this morning, taking all of our frustrations in life out on the resistance and our pedal strokes.  We practiced Strength Endurance drills today with heavy, long climbs, and mostly out of the saddle, training our bodies to endure the resistance and keep marching forward up and over our hill.  After the storm, so to speak, our downhills were full of tension release and adrenaline rushes, giving us an over all feeling of self accomplishment and gained power.  In my opinion, atmosphere is key in a ride like this - the mood needs to be set.  Today, I darkened the room completely with the light of just 3 flameless candles, included sound effects of rolling thunder and pouring rain, and began with a favorite song of mine from (Mumford & Sons) titled "The Cave".  It was the perfect opener for the mind and the body on a flat road, leading us to our biggest challenge, the mountains.  We climbed as if we felt the dark clouds from the storm hovering over us and there was no turning back.  Since I wanted this ride to cry with angst, I mixed a lot of the music myself, combining songs with original tracks mixed with a symphony orchestra version and mostly of the rock nature.  The riders were encouraged to focus on their breath and the many instrumental sounds that were surrounding the room, and try to forget about the burn they felt in their legs, letting the build up and anger in the music lift them to greater heights and power.  I closed the ride on another flat road with our eyes closed and at a much slower pace to (Mumford & Sons) "After the Storm", giving us a wonderful feeling of release and self worth.  The room was almost full of riders this morning, all climbing with intensity and complete focus - a sight to see indeed - it was magical!  For those of you who fought the storm outside this morning to join me for the storm in the spin room, you burned a whopping 570+calories and hopefully, you are still feeling the release and power from your great accomplishments today.  Way to climb Spinnas!  Until next time......

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