Category Archives: Motivation

Changing my stride: A post dedicated to Boston

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I’m sitting here pouring sweat after running my own personal 5k as I write this. Well, I actually wrote this in my head while I was running and I just had to get it all down.

I decided before I even put my running shoes on that this was going to be a bad run because of the way I was eating this week. I wasn’t even off my block before the thought of just walking entered my head. My stomach’s too full, my underwear is riding up, and why did I wear these crappy socks?

I concentrated on my stride to get those thoughts out of my head. I’m desperately flat footed, you see, and running that way has been torture on my knees. By changing my stride, running is no longer miserable for me. I’m a WIP and my calves are certainly feeling the change, but I am able to run faster, longer, and softer.

I hate that I have to work so hard to just run. I’m just not a runner. The thoughts started rushing back in my head. My foot stride is not the only thing that needs changing….

I hit a landmark in my run and I remembered how last time I took a different turn and cut my run down by a mile. But that’s quitting, I reminded myself. I had set out on a run and dammit, I was going to run!

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My bro and I at the race.

I couldn’t help but think back to Boston. Even miles away my community was shaken by the tragedy. Nowhere seems safe anymore…exercise has been my refuge, my escape, for so long but now the comfort and safety I used to find in it is threatened. The Boston Marathoners didn’t get a choice—to speed up or slow down—their race was taken from them. Oh, how easy it would be for this experience to stop them from running, to stop Boston from hosting the marathon, to make them stop in their tracks at the next 21st mile marker they hit. But I know they won’t.

They were my motivation to finish what I had set out to do.

I realized then that I needed to change my stride figuratively as well. Saying that I am not a runner is keeping me from being a runner! I just ran a race on Saturday, I AM a runner. I may not be a fast one or distance runner, and sure I may feel every step, but I am a runner just the same.

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My first crazy-lookin’ race photo! I feel like it is a rite of passage. This shot was taken right before I went into gazelle-mode sprinting towards the finish line!

So, I kept on going through my hilly neighborhood, passing up several short cuts. Every step made me feel even more like a runner and I was reminded of the deep sense of connection I felt with the runners and fellow volunteers from the Badass Army who came out to the 5.2 at 5 for Boston on Sunday in my town. Read more about the event that raised over $13,000 for the Boston Red Cross and united runners and supporters of the cause from all over here and here.

This experience has taught me that life is too short for all this negativity.  If there is something that you want to accomplish, just get out there and do it before it is too late! Experiences are only as good as what we make of it and attitude is everything. Runners across the country have proved in the last week that we will not be stopped and the joy of the finish line will not be taken from us!

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Stop, drop, and plank!

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I love a good challenge. Throw the word challenge behind anything and I’m in. So, several weeks ago during a twitter #wellnesschat hosted by @BadassFitCEO on ab core power the idea of a February #plankaday challenge came about. Since the beginning of last month I have been perfecting my planks daily. I love daily challenges like this because it really pushes me to be disciplined. Even though it is something as simple as a plank, making a commitment and sticking to it throughout the month helps me feel mentally stronger and more focused. I highly recommend it!

Here’s the jist: idea is to start holding a plank for 30 seconds on day 1 and add 5 seconds throughout the month. Theoretically, you’ll reach 3 minutes by the end.

So how did I fare? Well, the hubs pushed me to go ahead and start at 1 minute, so a few days in I jumped to 1 minute planks and kept on going! Each day I could feel myself getting stronger and stronger. Some days I was a beast, others…eh, not so much. I endured and reached 3 minutes by day 25 or so….

Oh yeah, I can do a 3 minute plank, alright. But, after about 2:30, my back feels like it is about to break in half and I grunt and scream my way through the last 30 seconds. Hey, at least I did it, right?

Well, I don’t know about that. This little experience taught me some lessons. Sometimes form is more important than beating a time. Sure, I met my goal, but it was not exactly healthy for my back. I learned that I actually work harder and feel stronger when I struggle to keep perfect form but only stay in position for 2 minutes, rather then letting my back droop and make 3 minutes. This exercise worked my patience even more than it worked my muscles. I’m happy planking my solid 2 minutes for now because it is really making me stronger when I hold the proper form the entire time. Plus, I want to be strong enough to hold that plank at the end of workout when I’m exhausted or when it is in a 104 degree room at Hot Power Core! Since my month-o-planks ended, I came up with a few tips that really helped me:

  1. Planking is just as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. It is boring. It can really psych you out. Keep your head up (literally, as well), stay focused, and push through. Tap into that “inner beast” I know is there.
  2. Location, location, location! Make sure you are somewhere you can get comfy in your plank! AKA the hard wood floor in my bedroom or the scratchy rug in my living room does not make for a successful plank! Weight lifting gloves or a yoga mat is helpful, but stay away from slippery towels or soft pillows.
  3. Get rid of distractions! In other words, remove yourself from anything that can piss you off. Maybe it’s just me, but I am quite moody during my last 30 seconds. I also become very particular…any little hair hanging in my face or if my pants feel “too heavy”…I can’t do it. (There were many pantless-planks done at my house ;))
  4. Form is everything! Keep your palms under your shoulders and keep your weight shifted forward. And tuck your pelvis! My fitness guru said this during Hot Power Core one night and it was like a light bulb went off! Squeeze you butt cheeks, tuck, and pull your belly button in towards your back. This tightens your abs, back, and legs. A proper plank uses the whole body! This really helps to take the stress off of any one part of your body. For me, the tilt helped to keep my body straight as possible and it took a lot longer for me to wear out my back.
  5. BREATHE! It’s difficult, but I promise it helps.
Not the best planking conditions...

Not the best planking conditions…

I enjoyed this experience so much I decided to take on a monthly fitness challenge! Whole30 in March wasn’t enough so I decided to add a daily push-up challenge to my list of things to do, too. I am starting a little late, but I was inspired by the #nomoregirlypushups challenge from Wine to Weightlifting, Dare 2 Dream Dare 2 Do, & Alex Tries it Out.   With the help of a very handy app and the support of my BFF, I hope to work up to 100 push-ups by the end of the month! Got any ideas for future fitness challenges or want to join me? Let me know in the comments section!

Coming up later this week: recap of Whole30 week one! See how I’m doing compared to the  Whole30 program timeline!

The other side

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If you haven’t already made a commitment to live #happilyeverstronger by making healthy food choices and exercise a priority, I hope that I have inspired you to start thinking about it. If so, congratulations and welcome to the other side! I truly believe that physical wellness is a large part of our journey to happiness.

So, if this is you…fear not. Everyone has to start at square one at some point. After all  I’ve never heard of anyone coming out of the womb completely jacked, have you? I didn’t think so.

When I first made that commitment  I was lucky to have people in my life to guide me through the next step. But, I realize that not everyone has family or friends that are well versed on the topic of eating clean or exercising  There are tons of resources out there to help you and overtime I plan on collecting the ones that have helped me and putting them all in one place!

In the meantime, I’d like to share with you something that has been on my mind for a while and especially this week. I love to share my fitness pursuits with my lovely lady friends 🙂 and take every opportunity to drag (sometimes kicking and screaming) friends with me to the gym, a class or even just my driveway. I even force encourage my mom to lift weights while recovering from a recent surgery. So, I tend to hear this comment a lot– “I’d like to start going to the gym, but I just don’t know what to do.” or “I really like the free weights, but I don’t know if I am ready to do them on my own.” Let’s face it– those guys at the gym wearing homemade sleeveless shirts with huge neck muscles are intimidating with their grunting and slamming of weights (Hey buddy, you’re not supposed to do that at the gym, ya know?)

This is all true. But, as I tell all my friends you just need to give yourself a little more credit, take a chance, get over there with the big boys and give it a try! Let out a grunt (really, try it, it’s liberating!) I love being one of the few females in the gym NOT on a cardio machine or the circuit, but I’d like to see more of my fellow sporty girls over there even more! And guys, I’m taking a stab in the dark here but I am going to guess that it is pretty impressive and dare I say HOT when a girl has the confidence to do these exercises?! {Disclaimer: I am not dissing cardio machines, the circuit, or the people that use them! Cardio is a necessary part of working out and circuit training is very effective, BUT it is also necessary to give your muscles some variety!}

I am a self-proclaimed weight training spokeswoman. I am relatively new to it myself, but I am having so much fun learning and pushing myself farther than I ever thought possible! I never feel more #BADASS than when I am bench pressing. I have a long way to go to reach my weight training goals but I am super-psyched to get there! I am also by no means an expert on exercise or fitness (though hope to be able to say differently one day) but I do want to share with you some things that I have learned along the way and where I learned them from…

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Think about the fitness goals that you have for yourself. Do you want to build endurance? Increase visible muscle? Get STRONG?

Well, this sh!t’s about to get real. (Not really, I’ve just always wanted to say that 😛 ) What I mean is that later this week I will give a break down of weight training goals and some basics on the strategies to achieve them! Keep following for more and let me know how you feel about working out at a gym in the comments section! Use #happilyeverstronger on twitter to tell me about your workout this week!

Is it your time?

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Every person’s journey to finding happiness through being healthy is different. Different things propel us to make positive changes in our lives. It’s not necessarily how you get there, but that you make it to that point in your life that matters. It seems that people spend a lot of time thinking about making lifestyle changes before they actually do it. And that’s ok. Part of the process is thinking…that’s where it all starts after all. But there comes a time when you’ve got to be like Nike and just DO it.

This is the part where if it were a few years ago, my need for order and concrete thinking would take over and I would break it down into steps 1-3. First you get an idea, then you set the goal, and then you take action.  That may very well be the case, but sometimes another approach works, too.

If you’re fed up with waiting for the perfect time to start focusing on fitness, waiting for life to slow down, waiting for a less busy time of year, or waiting for the stars to align then you may need to rethink your approach. Sometimes, you’ve got to just fake it till you make it. I don’t mean be a poser or put up a front. In my counseling program, we like to call this “acting as if.” This is probably where I lost you….just go with it…

So how does this apply to living fit?

Well, earlier this year when I learned about the Paleo Diet from my fitness group (more on this later) it immediately appealed to me and I knew that I wanted to try to make this my lifestyle. But, this meant some drastic changes in my eating habits (WHAT? No hummus?!) So while trying to learn about paleo eating and also intermittently using up my stockpile of processed foods and grains, I just acted as if I have eaten that way all my life. While I was still trying to figure it all out, I just pretended that I already had it all figured out. It’s kind of like Jedi-mind tricking yourself! It’s all about attitude; visualize who you WANT to be as if you are already that person. Trying anything new is difficult in the beginning, so to cope with these drastic restrictions on my diet, I didn’t think of them as restrictions at all. Instead of saying I can’t eat that, I said I don’t eat that. When I would slip up and eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, or fall to the temptation of the check-out line candy bars, I refused to think of it as a failure. I know that this type of thinking can cause me to sabotage myself and just give up. I thought of it like this– I choose to eat like a caveman, but every now and then I can choose to eat otherwise, end up feeling like crap (physically and emotionally), learn from it, and move on.  From the beginning, I trained my thoughts to be as if I was already an established paleo eater which made it easier for me to stick to it. If I had let the newness of my eating habits get to me, I would have ended up obsessing over the food I chose not to eat anymore.

The same goes for working out. When my brother started training for his Tough Mudder, he went into BEAST MODE. I was jealous. I wanted to be in BEAST MODE…but I just wasn’t there yet…not mentally and certainly not physically. So, as I tried to get back into the swing of things (a new house and plateauing at the gym put a cramp in my workout) I just went ahead and acted as if I was in BEAST MODE already. I can’t really explain it other than I just had a “fierce” attitude at the gym. Pretty soon after that, its like somebody hit the ON switch. I was there. Not only was my mind thinking like a BEAST, but my body was finally training like one!

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So you see, if living a fit life is your goal…start acting as if you’re already fit. Think strong. Think healthy. This way you will be more mindful of your body in the decisions you make. Act as if, and the rest will follow suit. Before you know it you will beyond the talking about it stage and you will be DOING!

I bet some of you have already tried this without realizing what you were doing! Or if not, I challenge you to give it a try this week. Drop me a comment and tell me about your experience!