Tag Archives: BEASTMODE

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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Weight a minute!

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Exercise goals vary from person to person. Maybe you want to lose weight, tighten up, maintain your weight, reduce your body fat, build lean muscle… The list goes on. It’s true that different methods are better for different goals. However, I think that if you choose just one, you are missing out. Running endlessly on the treadmill to lose weight is a common example. That is why I am excited to write this post about weight training!

Lifting weights actually burns more calories than cardio alone and of course builds muscle. If you are thinking that sounds too simple, well, you’re right. There are all sorts of other training methods that can give you more “bang for your buck” at the gym. But, for today I will stick to the topic of weight lifting.

As promised, I’ve got a breakdown of the different types of weight training goals and some real basic principles of how to get started. I collected this information over the last year or two, and tweaked it as I learned from other sources. Body Building is one of my go-to resources and has some really great articles! So here we go…

Think of these terms on a continuum: Conditioning, Hypertrophy, Strength, and Power.

Conditioning is used to increase endurance. With this strategy, you do a high number of reps (some agree 12 or more, others say more than 15) in 3-4 sets, with short rest (30 seconds to 1 minute) in between. At the gym, you will tend to do a higher number of exercises (AKA “volume”) with lower intensity. By intensity, I am referring to the amount of “force” you put behind each rep. Low intensity would mean that you are lifting about half of your max weight. If you are new to weight training this is probably a good place to start. Get a feel for the weights, machines, and focus on your form…then comes…

Hypertrophy is the fun stuff! This is when people start telling you that you have guns (it still counts even if it is right after a workout and your still swollen, right?) Hypertrophy refers to the the increase of muscle. If your goal is to visibly gain muscle (more than just “toning” up) you would decrease the number of reps to about 8-12, but use heavier weights. 3-4 is still appropriate, but increase the rest in between to 60-90 seconds because your muscles need recovery time! You can still do a high number of exercises, but (and here’s the important part) you must lift a weight that is heavy enough to build muscle. Here’s a good rule of thumb: choose a weight that you can lift for at least 6-8 reps, but no more than 12. Think of this as using 70-80% of your maximum weight.

Strength, well, means just that. To achieve this you would do 6-8 reps, but you can decrease your sets to 2-3. Some sources I’ve read say to rest anywhere between 2-4 minutes. Personally, I can’t imagine resting for 4 minutes…I think I would lose my stamina! For strength training, you would want to do a more moderate number of exercises so that you have more time and energy to focus on the muscle groups that you are training. You don’t need to max out on weight for strength training, use about 80-90% intensity.

Power refers to increasing your max strength, in which you go all out and lift 90-100% of your max weight but train with a lower volume. As you can imagine, you would do a low number of reps (1-5) per set (2-4) and need more rest in between.

My training goals fall somewhere in between hypertrophy and strength. I tend to do about 5-6 weight training exercises at the gym–3 sets of 6-8 . I have to really push myself and be mentally focused to use the greater intensity required for strength training. Some exercises I am in the “strength” stage, others I am still building up to. These are just some basic guidelines to give you a quick intro to weight training….do what feels right for you (especially when it comes to figuring out your max weight and rest period needed!)

Is weight training a part of your goals? Let me know in the comments section and use #happilyeverstronger to tweet about your gym adventures this week!  next week as I prep for my Whole30!

And I will leave you with this motivational message I borrowed from PFit Blog (because I desperately need to take some pictures!)

You can set this as your iPhone lock screen for constant motivation! From Bonnie Pfiester at pfitblog.com!

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!

A new blog-inning…

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Another blog.

I read ’em, I love ’em, they are my go-to source for all kinds of information and inspiration…but I never thought I would become a blogger myself.

So, why did I?

Those of you who know me personally, probably know that I have made some pretty major changes in my life recently. As a kid, I was pretty cautious…some might even say I had some anxious tendencies…

Oh don’t get me wrong, I loved going on adventures with my brother (and have the scars to prove it). But, too often I let my fears get the best of me and as hard as I tried to hang in there with the boys my “what ifs” usually forced me to go back inside where its safe and warm 🙂 My apprehension held me back.

But luckily, something started to change in me. Actually, someone started to change me. For the better. My husband pushed me to find my “limits” and crush them (in a good way). He taught me the importance of taking risks, challenging myself, and setting goals. My best friends pushed me even further…dragging me, reluctantly at first, into crazy sports I’d never thought I would ever do. Whether he knows it or not, my brother raised the bar, too…since I still have a desire to out-do him on something someday. Childhood friends recognized the changes taking place in me and offered encouraging words. And then, a friend introduced me to a BADASS family of fellow fitness lovers that, through bootcamp classes and an online community, remind me to push myself further and further each day.

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And so I got the idea to blog about it. The idea was born and that is how it got its name. HappilyEverStronger. This is my new beginning. This healthy lifestyle is my happily ever after. Only I’m not just happier, I’m STRONGER! Not only physically stronger, but these changes have made me mentally stronger, too. More courageous, more disciplined. Some would argue beast mode. The best part is, I know I can only get better! My hope for this blog is to share the knowledge I have gained over the last few years about how to live a happier, stronger life by feeding and strengthening the mind, body, and soul. A bit cheeseball, I know, but just go with it. My hope is to motivate you just like my friends and family have motivated me through my posts about eating well, fitness, and keeping a healthy (and sane) mind.