[family hiking trip in Waterville Valley, NH this past weekend]
As you know, I am an avid fan of running mostly due to it’s hidden benefits none of which include losing weight or getting “skinny.” Sure, these are extra perks that may come along with exercising, but they’re not the main reason I run. Rather, I run for clarity, creative sparks (i.e. coming up with a fabulous idea for a new project), getting outside and de-stressing.
I find that when you exercise for weight loss or to obtain that perfect celebrity bikini body it takes all the fun out. And well, when you take the fun out of something, what’s the point?
Exercise should be exciting, invigorating, motivational and even a little surprising. It should challenge you, make you sweat, make you laugh and even make you cry (in a good way like the tears that came when I ran my first half marathon with thousands of other women).
On the other hand, it should not make you feel bad about yourself, evoke jealousy, create anger and bring out insecurities. If a certain exercise is causing this negative impact, you may want to rethink it; most likely there is something out there for you that’ll better suit your needs and your body.
After all, everyone has their own exercise that does this, just as everyone has a certain diet or skin care regime that works best for you. This is an example of bio-individuality, something I learned through my studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and incorporate in my health counseling practice every day. Basically, it means that everyone has their own personalized roadmap to health, and what may be one woman’s medicine could be another’s poison.
My “medicine” cabinet in the exercise realm includes running, hiking, skiing, long walks, core fusion, group fitness classes (particularly spinning, step and kickboxing) and Vinyasa yoga. I do not, however, enjoy Pilates, competitive sports, or extreme bootcamp style classes.
A few years ago, I read in a magazine that all the hot celebrities were doing Pilates to develop long and lean bodies, so I thought “I can do that too. I can become long and lean like them.” Well guess what, I hated it, and haven’t set food in a Pilates studio again. It doesn’t make Pilates “good” or “bad.” It doesn’t make me lame or a quitter. It simply wasn’t right for me, and so I moved on.
If you loathe running and never want to be a runner, fine. If you’d rather kayak or spin the day away than set foot in a yoga studio, have no shame. If something simply isn’t for you, it does not make you weak. In fact, it makes you unique. It makes you who you are.
So go ahead and explore different exercise routines to find what works best for you. What makes you feel good inside, fills you up and gives you the motivation to do it over and over again?
What types of exercise get your heart racing, and most importantly makes you feel your best self?
Happy Friday loves! Hope your weekend is off to a good start so far. Today I took myself on an amazing date to Whole Foods, where I stayed for a good portion of the afternoon. I had a lot of work to get done today, and most of it I could do without the internet, so I decided to unplug from my Mac for a solid 4+ hours. However, I did bring an old-fashioned notebook and my IIN iPod in order to catch up on my latest lectures for nutrition school.
I loved everything I learned about today, from the pros, cons, and logistics of soy products to lessons of healthy eating from cultures years ago, like eating REAL, RAW butter and cheese and consuming all natural meat and fish products (fat and all) for nutrient optimization.
It definitely helped that I was listening to my lectures while eating a delicious, wholesome meal from the Whole Foods’ salad bar. My plate included lentils, spicy chickpeas, raw pumpkin seeds, salmon salad, roasted mushrooms, quinoa and feta among some other samplers. I absolutely love the different variations you can make at Whole Foods, and if I could I would go there every day if the budget allowed. How cool would it be to have a buffet like that in your own apartment? Hey, a girl can dream…
Anyway, since today’s Friday, here’s what made the cut for this week’s Friday Favorites:
1. Kombucha Tea
I used to drink this stuff in college because it was “low calorie” and I was scared of calories/fat/carbs/everything at the time. I hated the taste back then, but would down it anyway. Now that I know of the extreme health benefits of Kombucha, such as better digestion and immune support, I’ve been trying to add it back into my diet lately. I enjoyed some today with lunch and found myself to have great energy and concentration, without an ounce of coffee all day! Even better, I actually really enjoy the flavor now and find it to be super refreshing. I decided to go with one of GT’s newer flavors: Botanic No. 3 with hints of lavender and elderberry.
2. Sweating it Out
I have to admit; I’ve been totally slacking when it comes to cardio lately. My busy schedule mixed with core fusion classes mixed with walking all around the city has prompted me to put cardio on the back burner. However, yesterday night after an extremely stressful day I decided to go for a good, old-fashioned run on the treadmill. Who knew how exhilarating just 30 minutes of sweating could be? I loved the the energy burst I got, the clarity I found, and how amazing it made me feel over all. I’m definitely going to be incorporating some more cardio into my daily lifestyle again. Not too much, but enough. It’s just running & I work very well together. I’m also thinking about registering for another half marathon coming up if my iffy knees allow for it. I will certainly keep you posted!
3. Love Letters
The whole Valentine’s Day thing got me thinking about love letters, and how you simply don’t see enough of ’em this day and age. As I expressed on my blog before, words mean more to me than any gift could ever mean and the card The Boy made me for Valentine’s Day was my favorite part. If I got a love letter sent to me every day, I would be the happiest girl on earth. OK, maybe not every day but you know what I mean. And it doesn’t even have to be from your significant other. It could be a love letter to your best friend, a love letter to yourself, or a handwritten “I love You” note on a napkin for your roommate who’s having a bad week at work. I wrote one for The Boy yesterday ’cause he’s been having a tough week, and it made me feel good knowing it’d make him feel good. Go ahead, write it out. It feels pretty good, now doesn’t it?
So if you’ve been reading my blog for the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen me mention that I’m training for a half marathon…that is my first half marathon ever. To this date, the farthest I’ve ran is a 10K back in September. But now I am taking it a step further, and am in the midst of training for the More /Fitness Women’s Half Marathon on April 3 in Central Park, NYC!
I wasn’t really planning on signing of for a half marathon; it just sorta happened. A friend of mine (thanks Pao!) posted the link on my Facebook wall, and at first I thought “HA, that’s crazy,” and went on with my day. Then I clicked on the link for shits ‘n’ giggles and immediately felt inspired. An all women’s race? Sponsored by More Magazine and Fitness Magazine? Right then and there I knew I had to do it.
I just dove right in, so I wouldn’t have time to look back. I ripped the band-aide off, entered my credit card number and did it. Sometimes in life, that’s the best way to get things done! I also convinced a few other friends to sign up including my great friend Kiley (who has ran one before), cousin Sara (who is pretty much a running Queen) and my younger sister Krista (yay us!) I am so excited to accomplish my first half surrounded by inspiring, healthy, strong women, particularly my friends and family members I admire so much.
Now I’m in the midst of my training, and couldn’t feel better – about my body, my motivation, and my focus! Since I’ve started training using Hal Higdon’s Novice program, I’ve seen great improvements in my running, more definition and toning in my body, and greater focus throughout the day – go me! After all, running 15+ miles a week is something I never thought I’d be doing. I used to HATE running…I loathed it. The program also includes cross training, strength training, stretching and rest days, which are oh so important as well, almost juts as important as the running part!
I’m also paying more attention to what I put in my body, being sure to fuel myself properly with hearty, healthy, wholesome eats to give me energy and strength! Lots of water is also super important, so I’m paying extra attention to chugging the H2O. Gotta quench the thirst.
I couldn’t be more excited for my first half, and am kinda on a permanent runner’s high because of it. I think having goals and focusing on something new is a wonderful thing, in all aspects of life!
What are your current fitness goals? Have you ever ran a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon? What was your experience like? What got you through the finish line?
This quote speaks true to many people, and especially hit hard for me this week as I am training for my first half marathon. Am I a professional runner? Nope. Am I a runner? You bet. Who ever thought two years ago I’d be running a half marathon? It just goes to show that you can do anything you set your heart on. So for all you runners out there- of all styles, shapes and sizes – enjoy!
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but let’s be honest: I’ve been thinking about it since early October, and I’m already thinking about Christmas. Hey, it’s the malls fault for being all decorated and pretty with lights and Christmas trees. But when it’s all said and done, Thanksgiving is and always has been my absolute favorite holiday. The delicious smells, the wonderful feeling of family and the fact that I go into a turkey coma every year (no matter how much I tell myself to slow down) is all part of the joy of Thanksgiving.
But even though I almost always have to unbutton my pants come dessert, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to keep my Thanksgiving just a bit healthier. After all, I’m not trying to gain 10 pounds in one sitting and feel like absolute crap the next day. That would be doing my body no good. So this year in particular, I’m working on adding a little extra healthy oomph to my favorite holiday, and that I will share with you…
#1 I’m running my first ever Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day: I’ll be running the 5-mile Manchester Road Race, but these types of Turkey Trots are all over the place, so I suggest you sign up to0! They are fun, packed with people and it takes the edge of the actual running part of it. To make it even more exciting, my sister and I are dressing up as elves with green tights, elf hats and all! To prep for the race, I’ve been running 3 miles a day with Core Fusion Body Sculpt twice a week, so it’s keeping me in shape before Turkey Day as well.
#2 I’ll be making a side dish that actually tastes good: Last year I tried to go all, “healthy, healthy” on everyone and ended up making the most disgusting side dishes…ever. My family of course ate them to be nice, but even I could see they had little to no flavor. My gluten free stuffing I tried to invent tasted like dog food. It was that bad. This year, I’m going to concentrate on making wholesome, nutritious food instead of low-cal, “healthy” crap. I’m definitely going to trim down the classic sweet potato pie that everyone knows and loves, and am definitely going to dabble in concocting some gluten free savory cupcakes from the BabyCakes Cookbook I got last year as a gift. Red Velvet cupcakes [see above] are at the top of my list to try this year!
#3 Or Fake it if you can’t bake it: Not everyone loves to cook, and there is no shame in that. Lots of places allow you to pre-order Thanksgiving sides and desserts so you don’t have to touch a pan. For instance, Healthy Habits Kitchen in Wellesley, MA is running an “Everything But the Turkey” Package, which includes 3 appetizers, 3 side dishes and 2 desserts. How’s that for easy and efficient? Pick ‘n’ choose between tasty apps like Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomato & Olive Spread, Spinach & Feta Triangles and Pumpkin Chipotle Hummus. Side dishes include a Butternut Squash Casserole, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, and Traditional Stuffing. Oh, and you can’t forget dessert, with favorites like Chocolate Bark and Gingerbread Spiked Pumpkin Pie. View their full menu here. Small servings for 4 cost $59 and full servings for 8 is $99, extremely affordable in my book for the amount of food you’re getting.
#4 Eat Slowly: Sometimes I forget that the food is not going to fly away on me. I think we all could use a few deep breaths and short breaks throughout the feast. Enjoy your food, chat with aunt Sally who you haven’t seen all year and savor every bite. This meal only comes once a year, after all. Why rush it?
What are your healthy Turkey Day tips? …
I have to admit: up until this year I absolutely hated running, but I did it. I ran to lose weight, to burn off my dinner, and to look good in my bikini. I’d force myself to go on group runs with my roommates, even though every stride was absolutely painful. I hate this. But I have to keep going, I’d think to myself.
It wasn’t until this year that I began to enjoy running. The weekend of my grandmas funeral, I was filled with a bajillion emotions: anger, confusion, pain, rage, and I don’t know what got into me but I laced up my sneakers and hit the road. It was a beautiful spring day in Boston, and the temperature was in the low 70s. While normally I’d want to quit before the first mile, I simply couldn’t stop this day. I ran and I ran and I ran, letting out all my emotions on the road. I ran three miles that day, and never felt so alive.
Ever since then I’ve used running as an outlet, a way to explore and understand myself. I’ve realized running is so much more than looking good in that tight dress and burning off the extra cookie you snuck at lunch. While it doesn’t hurt that running helps burn off some fat, I’ve come to realize that running is so much more than that. Alas, I share with you some of my secret running benefits:
1. Admiring Other Active People: When I’m running, I love checking out all the people I stride by. I constantly find myself thinking, “Damn, her arms are nice,” “I love that top,” or “Boy is he cuteeeee.” It’s fun to observe other athletic people like yourself hitting the pavement, especially in the city of Boston where I swear people run outside from sunrise to sunset.
2. Discovering Hidden Gems: I can’t count the number of amazing places I’ve discovered while on my long runs. From mom & pop shops, spas and trendy cafes to beautiful farms and parks, there are a number of hidden gems I never would have known about if it weren’t for my love of running.
3. Mental to-do Lists: While running, I mentally jot down all the things I need to do, whether it be grocery shopping lists or little goals I have for the week. It saves time and paper when you organize things out in your head! (Need: apples, peanut butter, trip to the bank, new fall outfit)
4. Creativity Spark: On that note, my creative juices tend to flow best during a good, long run. I come up with some of my craziest, most inspiring ideas while on the road, and then I write them down as soon as I get home so that I won’t forget. Sometimes I wish my brain would write everything down for me so I wouldn’t have to do all the work! (It’s hard to multi-task!) I’ve come up with most of my blog posts while on the run, including this very one you’re reading right now.
5. Erasing a Bad Day: Whenever I’m having a bad day/stuck in a rut/feeling sorry for myself/feeling lonely and “extra-single” I go for a run, and by the time I get back I usually have an entirely new mindset. Running is refreshing and can give you a new perspective about things that may seem like THE END OF THE WORLD, when in reality they are just trivial issues.
6. Familiarize Yourself With Your Pod: When I put my iPod on shuffle, I discover tons of music I never knew I had! From oldies and country to rap and reggae, I like to run to all kinds of beats. Today my faves included “Satisfaction” (Benny Benassi), “Ridin’ Solo” (Jason DeRulo), “There Goes the Fear” (Doves), and “It’s the Same Old Song” (Four Tops). Told ya, I like random!
7. Post-Run Glow: I LOVE how I look after a run: glowing, red face, healthy, sweaty, strong.
8. Appreciating the Outdoors: Before running, I’d go on walks occasionally, but that was pretty much my only dose of fresh air for the day. Now I’m outside nearly every day, soaking up the beautiful weather, feeling the breeze blow through my hair and smelling the fresh scents of fall.
Do you enjoy running? What are some of the reasons you absolutely love lacing up those sneaks for a nice, sweaty run? …
So I completed my first 10K this morning. Yup, the girl who couldn’t even run two miles a few years ago, cried in the middle of a 5K once and has never ran more than five miles ran an entire 6.2 miles today! The best part? I couldn’t have felt more alive, energized and motivated during the race, and feel absolutely amazing now! (Well…my legs could use some hardcore hot tub time, but other than that life is good) Oh and I beat my goal time of 60 minutes…59:34 baby! Anyway, I know first-time races can be a little scary, intimidating and a heck of a lot of work, so I put together a little list of inspirations to get you through your next race. Whether it’s your first 5K, your first 10K or your very first run EVER, these little mental motivations got me through the race today and hopefully work for you too:
1. “I’m going to pace myself and go at a rate I feel comfortable with and know that I can maintain. If I get tired, I will slow down. If I feel good, I will speed up.”
2. “It’s just me and the road. Everyone else doesn’t matter right now. This is my race.”
3. “Just focus on one step at a time, one mile at a time and the finish line will be there before you know it.”
4. “I am strong, I am healthy, I can do this!”
5. “There will be people who finish way ahead of me, and people who finish way behind me. And that’s OK!”
6. “Everyone is out here for a good cause, and each and every person here is amazing. Support each other. It’s not JUST about the time and it’s NOT a competition.”
7. “Just get through the race. Crossing the finish line is going to feel amazing, especially listening to all the people cheer me on. Then I can chug water and eat a big breakfast (Mmm)!”
8. “Remember to breathe. In through your nose…out through your mouth…in through your nose…out through your mouth.”
9. “Enjoy the scenery while you’re at it. This isn’t something you see every day and it makes the race go by a heck of a lot faster.”
10. “If I can do this, I can do anything. Next time, I will push myself even farther and continue to challenge myself.” …
P.S. I also signed up for my very first 10K THIS weekend, and am super pumped for it. After some wonderful, inspiring comments from readers, friends, and Twitter followers, and some talking myself into it, I suddenly found myself typing in my credit card number in the online registration section with NO hesitation. I’m super excited to run and am hoping the adrenaline rush and positive thoughts will carry me through : )
Ta ta for now!
The Healthy Chick…
This morning, I got up early and headed out to meet my friend at Starbucks for…wait for it…PUMPKIN SPICED LATTES! Yes, they are indeed back and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Not only do I love the flavor, but it makes me ecstatic for the fall season: pumpkins, running outside, not sweating in my 100+ degree apartment, kettle corn, hayrides, apple picking… Seriously, I could go on forever.
Anyway, as we chatted over our absolutely delicious “fall in a cup” lattes in the park, my friend admitted to something: she felt guilty for skipping her morning run. “I woke up early so I could run before work and then just laid around the house and didn’t do it. Now I’m going to feel guilty the rest of the day.” As I took another sweet slurp of my latte, I reflected on how I’ve been there a million times in the past. Whether I wasn’t “in the mood” to go for a run or skipped a cardio class at the gym due to pure laziness, it’s hard not to feel a little guilty when you skip a workout. I remember in college if I didn’t go to the gym for an hour each day or missed out on my weekly cycling class, I’d completely beat myself up over it. I’m lazy. I’m fat. Now I’m going to gain weight. I may as well not eat for the rest of the day. I should have just gone to the gym. Negative thoughts would haunt me for the rest of the day. Therefore, I’d force myself to exercise on days my body wasn’t feeling it, and skip out on fun dates with friends in order to go to the gym. Looking back now, it’s completely pathetic that I put so much emphasis on my psychotic workout plan.
Now, my mindset has completely changed. I don’t let myself feel guilty anymore because if I decide not to work out, I don’t think of it as a bad thing. The phrases skipping or giving up have such negative connotations to them. It’s not like you gave up on eating healthy forever or decided to drop out of school. It’s one workout for Pete’s sake! Therefore now when I choose not to do a workout, I think of it as just that. This was my decision. My body wasn’t feeling it at the time. I’m going to go with what my body tells me to do, rather than meeting my expectations.
Once you have this mindset, you’ll never feel guilty about missing a workout again. In fact, I decided to skip opt out of my morning run yesterday, and ended up having the most fabulous, healthy day because of it. I was able to make a hearty breakfast, do 20 minutes of morning yoga, and go for a long walk with my friend later in the afternoon. Sure I didn’t sweat a bunch or torch hundreds of calories, but I felt good about it and made the right decision for that day. On the other hand, I will be going on a 5 mile run this evening and couldn’t be more excited about it. I’m excited to challenge my body, see what my time will be and run in this gorgeous fall weather. However, if I happened to not be feeling it at the time of my run, I’d chose to do something else and would move on with it. It’s all about listening to your body.
After all, working out shouldn’t be a chore; you should feel motivated and inspired by it! Whenever friends complain about going to the gym or talk about “forcing” themselves to go, I tell them to stay home and do something else, or go for a long walk to sort things out. If you’re feeling miserable and dragging yourself to exercise, it’s NOT going to be a good workout. And let me tell you: 25 minutes on the elliptical at a slow “I-don’t-want-t0-be-here” pace is going to do nothing for your body or overall weight management efforts. Our bodies need a break once in a while after all. And if you’re someone who exercises nearly every day, the occasional rest day is more than OK; in fact it’s good for your health. We don’t want to overwork our bodies now, do we?
So to wrap things up: next time you find yourself feeling guilty about “skipping” a workout, try to listen to your body and think about what’s right for you. If you really are just being lazy, give it a few minutes and see how you feel, or start by just going for a walk and begin running if you feel like it (not ’cause you HAVE to). However, if you really do just need a day of rest, take one guiltlessly. There is always tomorrow and one little missed workout is not going to make the slightest difference on your overall healthy lifestyle (I wish I had known this in college). Trust me. …
I’m a morning person. I always have been. My roommates in college used to envy the fact that I could wake up right when the sun came up perkier than ever. They also used to loathe the fact that I’d stomp around the apartment with my sneakers slamming cabinets and shuffling around pots and pans to make my morning omelet, as they tried to get their beauty sleep (sorry girls!) So yes, I’ll admit that getting up in the morning is a tad easier for me than the average human being.
However, I am not Superwoman and I too have my days where I want to throw my Blackberry out the window as the annoying alarm rings in my ear. Take this morning for instance. I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. because I wanted to get my morning run over with before the horrendous 100-degree weather hit. However, I was angry when I heard my alarm go off this morning. Not only did it interrupt a good dream (don’t you hate that?) but I also was not ready to get up. So I sat there for a few seconds debating whether I should go back to sleep or not, and decided to rip the Band-Aid off. Yes, the first few seconds are painful, but once I sprung out of bed I was good to go. Then when I put on my running outfit and sneaks, I knew there was no turning back!
So, no I wasn’t born with super powers, nor do I have any magical advice to give you on how to get yourself going in the morning. But I do have some motivational tips that’ll help you make it through a tough workout painlessly.
1. Spring Out of Bed: As I already mentioned before, getting out of bed is the hardest part, then the rest is a piece of cake! Do whatever you need to do in order to move your body from your comfy cloud-like mattress to a standing position. I use the “rip the Band-Aid off” method, where I give myself a few seconds of recuperating then just jump up before I can talk myself out of it.
Thinking about how great I’ll feel AFTER my workout also helps me get through the initial doubts. Just think: if you go back to bed you’ll already waste a few hours of your day, and probably won’t end up achieving your goals for the day. Just take the day on my friend…really you won’t regret it!
2. Fuel Up! Confession: I didn’t listen to my own advice this morning, and boy do I regret it. Before you set out, make sure you’re properly fueled. First things first: drink a good amount of water before you head out. Then, eat something small yet substantial that’s going to get you through your workout. An apple with some natural peanut butter, Greek yogurt, piece of toast, protein bar, or half of a fruit smoothie all work. Eat something small that you know your stomach can handle. Then when you return from your workout, you can dive into something more filling.
3. Set a Goal… It’s always good to have some sort of goal in mind, whether it’s going a certain distance, doing a certain amount of reps at the gym, or trying a new yoga class. Today my goal was to run another 5 miles, as I hit the 5-mile mark last week and wanted to see if I still had it goin’ on. Alas, I mapped out a route and set off to see where my legs would take me…
4.…But Don’t Take Your Goal Too Seriously: Goals are always great, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve what you set out to do. Today was HOT out. Yes, even at 7:30 a.m. the temperature was already nearly 90 degrees. (So much for beating the heat). Anyway, midway through my run I had to re-access whether running the full five miles was right for my body. I thought about stopping and walking the rest (around mile four) but realized that my breathing was in control and another mile was definitely doable, so I simply slowed down my pace.
Sure, I didn’t run the five miles in record-breaking time, however I DID IT and felt amazing afterward! Had I felt faint or dehydrated, I would have stopped and felt OK about that. It’s all about listening to your body, and not pushing yourself beyond what you’re comfortable with.
5. Take Advantage of Mind Tricks: I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes exercise can be strenuous and downright painful. That’s when I start playing tricks with my mind. If you know you still have another three miles to go (or another 30 minutes in a challenging group fitness class), thinking about it (and looking at the clock every 10 seconds) is going to drive you absolutely crazyyyyy.
Instead, play mind tricks. Today I blocked out any discouraging thoughts, and instead started thinking about what I was going to do the rest of the way. All the sudden, I was half way around the loop again without even thinking about it. I also like to look at the smaller picture; that is when I’m running a far distance, I’ll use street signs or telephone poles as different benchmarks. That way, instead of thinking about an ADDITIONAL THREE MILES, I’ll take it one sign at a time. Music also helps get your mind off the struggle, which leads me to my next point…
6. Jam Out: Seriously, I don’t know how people exercise without amazing tunes to go with it. But I suppose if you aren’t an Ipod person, chatting with a friend, watching the TV at the gym, or listening to the surrounding noise helps—any distractions really! But if you’re like me, I like my jams, and lately I’ve been really feeling my newest playlist, “Workout Baby.”
I recently downloaded “I Like it” by Enrique Iglesias (feat. Pitbull) and absolutely love it. Actually that’s an understatement. Confession: I played it THREE times during my run this morning; that’s how obsessed with it I am. So, download some new tunes, have your hip, music-obsessed friend burn you a few CD’s. I’m telling you: new, upbeat songs can make all the difference during your next workout.
Hope this helps! Please share your personal motivating tips that help you charge through…