Healthy Obsessions

This blog has always been about my passions – knitting for sure, but also writing, photography, my family, Bruce. So it feels a little disingenuous to not have shared my latest passion with you all. That’s about to change. Bear with me.

A little back story: I love my kids. They are fun and funny, smart and stubborn, passionate, crazy, beautiful, gorgeous kids and I love them. But (and there’s always a but right!) they do not sleep. Or, at least, they do not sleep well. I won’t get into the whole thing about sleep training and how we didn’t do it and that it worked so great for you and blah blah blah – my life is what it is and I wouldn’t change any of it. I’ve made my bed, so to speak, and both my kids sleep in it every single night. HAHAHAHAHAHA! See what I did there? Yeah. My kids sleep in our bed and we’re not happy about it. I’ve tried a million things to get them out and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and I’m seriously not telling you this for advice, it’s just a fact. And because my kids have a hard time staying asleep unless they are on top of me or touching me in some way that is incredibly uncomfortable for me and yet oddly comfortable for them, I don’t get a lot of sleep. Like ever. Or at least not in the last five freaking years.

I am often extremely exhausted. Extremely. Exhausted. And this aggravates my anxiety and panic like no one’s business.

Let’s back track to about a year ago. I was in a not very good place – exhausted and anxious and just plain yucky. I was a hell of a lot better than a year ago before that when I was in the throws of postpartum depression from second baby exhaustion and its overwhelming-ness. Besides regular therapy and some happy pills, I had started running again. I’m not the best exerciser in the world but I know what I need when I need it and as I was coming out of the awful winter of my PPD discontent, running seemed like the best option. It was good and all and I was working my way through a Couch to 5K type plan. It was nice to be outside and I liked the mental aspects of it but I never really loved running. At least not the way some people do. I got hurt. I healed. I had to go back a few weeks and start over. Then it got colder and school started again and oh well. Not running so much.

My neighbor had started going to a new studio that had opened near us. It was a barre based exercise class and I had read up on it before it opened but they kept delaying the opening and it wasn’t cheap and I started running.

But I wasn’t running anymore and she told me how great it was and winter was closing in and the exhaustion was overwhelming me as usual and well, OCD was taking over in the bad way. So I went with her.

You know where this is headed right? I went to my first Bar Method class a year ago today, February 19, 2012. Since then I’ve gone to over 200 classes. I went to my first class, then my second and then I signed up for an unlimited month and started going 3-4 days a week which I quickly ratcheted up to five classes a week.

I love the Bar Method. There. I told you all. I LOVE THE BAR METHOD!

There are a bunch of barre type workouts out there and you may go to one which is not the Bar Method and it might be the greatest thing in the world for you. If so, that’s great! I can’t speak to other barre type classes because I’ve never taken one. I can only talk about Bar Method. From their website:

The Bar Method™workout creates a uniquely lean, firm, sculpted body by combining the muscle-shaping principles of isometrics, the body-elongating practice of dance conditioning, the science of physical therapy and the intense pace of interval training into a powerful exercise format that quickly and safely reshapes and elongates muscles.

Yes, barre type classes are the rage and every celebrity out there has a favorite. Yes, I have always wanted to be a ballerina and just standing at the barre on my toes makes me feel like I’m in Swan Lake. Yes, at 43 I am in the best shape of my life and can do a split for the first time ever. Don’t believe me? Photographic proof (courtesy of Mason Dixon Kay!)

Crazy, no? So, to reiterate, best shape of my life, doing splits, husband says my ass looks younger and is scared by the definition in my arms, flat abs, etc etc etc. But really, the physical changes in my body are icing on the cake.

For me, Bar is about the fact that on more mornings than I care to admit I wake up with my body hurting and my brain set to monkey mind because I haven’t slept well – hell I haven’t slept at ALL – the night before and I know that if I can drag myself to a morning class and just get through the warm-up plank and maybe just maybe, finish the class, I will feel infinitely better. Remarkably better. Able to face the day better! Think of it this way: I haven’t had caffeine in over 25 years – it makes me feel like I’m having a panic attack and I have enough of those thank you very much – but my morning Bar class feels like a nice healthy shot of caffeine! I have ENERGY! My mind is CLEAR! I feel able to LEAP TALL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND! (Okay. Maybe not the last part. It’s a cup of coffee not a double espresso for god’s sake!) And the good feeling lasts throughout the day! Mostly. At least until school is over.

The class reminds me of all the things I love about knitting too. I love patterns – not knit knit knit (or run run run) until you’re done. I like things structured – but with lots of variety within the structure (like the rules I set up for my Miter Madness banket.) All of the Bar Method classes follow the same structure, but within that structure are a million different variations. And the more you do it the harder it gets. And man – are these classes HARD! (Think of some kind of fair isle lace sweater with multiple charts and multiple colors and some crazy construction. WIth steeks of course.)There is always room to challenge yourself – whether it’s perfecting your form, or going for the harder options. Just like knitting. It’s the process baby!

It’s not just the exercise either – it’s the people too. The instructors are incredibly encouraging and from the very first class they know your name. The other (mostly women) students are friendly and it just feels really comfortable to be there. I’ve made some nice friends – some of whom even knit! I can walk into the studio an anxious mess and even before class starts someone has made me laugh and I feel better already. I’m so happy to have found my place and I hope next year to write a similar post telling you how much I still love the Bar Method!

Thanks for letting me ramble. I feel better letting you in on my new obsession. And I hope you all get the chance to find yours too!

I hope to be back soon to talk about lots and lots (and LOTS!) of knitting!
Be well!
L, C


  1. This is really REALLY cool, and the picture of you doing the splits is VERY persuasive!! I am pretty tempted to try out a bar class here now….

  2. Sarah-potterknitter says:

    Good for you! My son is the same age as your first and my twin boys are 2.5. I’m still looking for the obsession that will pull me out of the mental dump I’m in, but it’s great to hear others are both in the same parenting places and making it work! At the very least the little ones start full-time preschool in the fall, getting back into the pottery studio full-time is the key to my survival!
    I can’t wait to hear about the knitting, for now, mine is pulling me through

  3. Everyone needs to find the one form of exercise that works to keep them centered and fit. It’s great to hear more about yours. Looking forward to hearing more about the grrls, more about your knitting and more about you! I miss you!!

  4. Not advice, but… my daughter slept with me and my husband until he left me when she was 3. Then she slept with just ME until she was 10, when she informed me she wanted to start sleeping in her own room. Now, I don’t know how it will work with two kids, (I DO hope you guys have a king-sized bed!), but hopefully both of yours will come to the same conclusion… I know it’s exhausting, but hang in there. We can only do the best we can and no more than that. Congrats on finding an exercise program you love.

  5. Totally with you on the no sleep training kids in bed thing. Oh we’ll, my kids are awesome and I’m sure yours are too!!

  6. So great to hear your happy thoughts. I started Bikram (hot) yoga last summer. I go when I am well enough and not at work. But I miss the barre exercises from ballet. It is good in the same way and hard enough to scare me a little.

  7. This post, this one right here, along with the OCD (the good way) rank high in the reasons why I LOVE YOU! Don’t make a big deal out of the kids in bed. The minute you decide you don’t give a shit, they can sleep with you until they go to college, they will move out of your room and then when you are faced with a lonely night alone in your bed for whatever reason and you suggest you all three cuddle that night in your bed they will look at you like that is the effing craziest thing you could suggest, why on earth would they EVER sleep with you, you crazy mom, weirdo. And then you’ll be a little sad. Ask me how I know. (Yes, it happened something like 17 years ago and it still smarts a little to talk about it. 🙂 )

  8. BTW-you look totally awesome.

  9. Wow!! You look great and I’m so glad to hear you are feeling great as well! I just started the Couch to 5K program to help get me back in gear. It’s hard finding time to run in peace when I have my kids all day, homeschool and work from home, but I know I need it physically and mentally! I checked, no bar studios within hours of me, but it sure looks like fun! I guess that’s what the videos are for!

  10. I have noticed — in recent and not-so-recent photos of you — that you look taller and thinner 🙂 And when I saw Kay’s photo of you doing the splits (Twitter? her blog? can’t remember) I was astounded and astonished and completely in awe.
    Go, you!

  11. Cara, Awesome blog and great descriptions of Bar! You are amazing in Bar! So inspiring!! Loved reading this- thanks for writing and sharing it…

  12. I ordered the Bar Method and can’t wait to give it a go! You look great…are you doing a special eating plan also?

  13. I swear this is true…I just read this post and looked at the picture and thought, sort of wistfully, “How nice it would be to be in one’s 20’s again…”
    And then I scrolled down to the top of the next post and saw the “I turned 43” and thought “No way!”
    All to say, you look great and I look forward to your future posts.