Here we go again

I’m officially 30. It is really easy to let yourself get caught up in a number. 30, it rolls off the tongue with a certainty, even when everything else does not feel certain. The most amazing thing about your birthday, it makes you very aware, aware of friends, family, people in your life, the kindness of strangers when they wish you a happy birthday because they some how found out. The week following your birthday you feel burned out and a tad bit selfish. Selfish because suddenly, instead of feeling gratitude, you feel left out. You go back to normal. Your friends go back to normal, no longer are random strangers wishing you happiness. I image this is how people feel after most life events. You go from being the spotlight and back to just you. The other thing birthday’s bring? A change from your normal routine and food, lots of food. I can’t even think of how much I ate or drank in celebration. I savored and enjoyed the memories of it all. It’s not guilt but rather now transitioning back into normal.

My friend Danielle and I are both going to start the whole 30. The next 30 days we will be each others support system. Notice I didn’t use the word diet? It’s not a diet, sure it has similarities to a diet. It has a list of no foods(a rather long list) and it’s a set amount of time. But it’s not a diet. Why? There is not any calorie counting, the rules are more to help guide your eating, not restrict or dictate it. Most importantly, it eliminates foods that promote health issues and helps you identify what foods. I found a lot of success with this method in learning about how dairy impacts my body. If I had not eliminated it for a week, I would have never known what a world of difference it made removing it.  This is my second attempt at the Whole30. Last time I made it 12 days. My hope is that having a buddy will help. My challenge is that I will almost be done at Thanksgiving. I know it’s doable. I know that people have dealt with harder challenges or struggles. If my only problem is wondering how to say no to stuffing at Thanksgiving, I would say I’m doing pretty well.

I’m hoping by doing this challenge it will help get me back into a more healthy lifestyle. Generally, eating better inspires me to keep up with working out. Fall is a hard season here in Minneapolis for working out. You get spoiled at the beginning by perfect running weather. As it cools off the daylight starts slowly disappearing. Soon perfect running weather is replaced by dark mornings and thirty degrees. I let myself have a week off after the half marathon. A good move because my body needed it but now my mind is perfectly okay with letting it stay longer. This week I battled all of the things saying “oh it’s okay, you can start again….later” and just did it. Four work outs later I am feeling like I am slowly getting back into the groove. Business as usual and I plan on keeping it that way.

 

 

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Work Out

I love Jillian Michaels. 30 Day Shred was the workout I used during my first half marathon training. Completing 30 straight days of it was a 30×30 goal. I will spend time away from it, but ultimately I always come back to it. Wearing my heart rate monitor during my workouts provides me with a push. I become competitive with myself. By comparing workouts it shows me the different intensity levels they provide. I’ve can now compare running, zumba, strength training and yoga from my HRM stats, pretty nifty. Below is the break down of 30 day shred. Those of you familiar with it know it is not 42 minutes long. I spent the first 19 minutes doing 6 week 6 pack accounting for 190 calories. The remaining 23 minutes was all level 1 Shred burning 250 calories.

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Shred is similar to Zumba for me. My heart rate stays at a similar level, the calorie burn is about the same, and both mix up moves. There are differences, Zumba is usually to pop workout style music, lead by a certified Zumba instructor and time wise it’s around an hour long. Shred is lead by Jillian who provides commentary throughout the work out. If you find her annoying or don’t like her style, the workout won’t change your mind, there isn’t a mix up of music, and it’s only 27 minutes long.

If you haven’t done 30 day Shred, I highly recommend you give it a go. You can try level 1 for free on the Youtube channel BeFit.  I’m not being paid to endorse any of these things. I’ve just found that it has really helped keep me motivated into working out. Seeing results in your body is not always quick or easy. Seeing what you did immediately after a work out provides a sense of accomplishment and reward.

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Running into Clarity

Sunday while out running, I was listening to the Jillian Michael’s podcast. Yes, I know, listening to a weight loss/fitness expert while out running? Hear me out, it’s around 45 minutes long. It is broke up into different segments and usually there is an interesting phone call from a listener. It provides the distraction I need but allows me the proper amount of zone out. I feel like an educated person once I’m done.  Anyway, after the usual amount of Jillian ragging on her producer, Janice, they finally got to the calls. Every show consists of 1-2 calls depending on what the person is asking. This episode the caller asked “when will I know that I’m done losing weight, I’ve reached the goal I set for myself which I based on a weight chart. However, I feel like I could still go down 10 lbs.” Jillian’s answer, your body has a natural stop point. You may not ever go past a certain weight. If you do   still lose weight your body reacts by being hungry all the time, crabby, and not fun to be around because you are starving yourself for a vanity weight. Instead of using the scale, go to your doctor and get a physical. If all your numbers like cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure are where they should be and you are a healthy weight for your age/height. Then anything more that you set for a goal becomes vanity sizing/vanity weight.

I almost stopped in the middle of my run. It hit me like a brick. Your body is very smart. It knows what it needs but often we ignore it because we think we know better. Your body talks to you, it tells you what it needs. If you need to weigh a certain weight, it will tell you. If you are not fueling it correctly, it will tell you.  If you are eating something that it doesn’t agree with it, it will tell you.

One of the biggest changes I made this year was eating meat again. My body changed for the better.  I feel better. My skin looks better. My mood is more even. All the positive things I wanted are happening because I listened to my body.

No matter where you are with your body. If you are looking to lose weight, maintain, or even gain, the biggest thing is listening to your body. It may take time to learn what that means for you. Listen, learn the differences between the message your brain is sending and the message your body is sending. Be patient, it will take practice. You will often get it wrong before you get it right. Keep the faith, it will come. But don’t let a vanity goal distract you.

 

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Throwing Away the Scale

My most ambitious goal on my 30×30 list is the last, being comfortable in my own skin.  I struggle between two versions of myself.  A feeling I’ve known since I was 12, maybe even earlier.  It surprises people when I tell them this. Generally, I am confident, smart and carry a “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. Yet, I don’t carry that through to me. I undervalue, undermine and sabotage because that little voice.  The words and motivation I give friends and family are not the same messages I give myself. Rather it is a mix depending on what the scale tells me.

The scale is a cruel instrument. It can be very necessary when you are first losing weight, have a medical condition or if goes well with your bathroom decor. The progress it shows motivates. The number on the scale provides you with how to know if your weight is healthy for your age and height. Yet, it also becomes a vanity measurement. The scale is not a cheerleader. If the scale isn’t what you want or expect, that number leads to a lot of self doubt. That conversation in your head isn’t pretty. It will tell you all the things you could have done differently, and yes, sometimes you need to have that conversation. But when it just becomes a soundtrack, it leads to old habits coming back rather than new patterns taking over.

As I get older, it isn’t just that I’ve grown tired of the voice, but I am tired of it ruling me. I don’t want it to influence how I treat or talk to my friends. I don’t want to engage it in my own goals. I don’t want my nieces to learn the power of it.  The hardest part is changing the conversation, removing its power. Vanity and fear are powerful, but they are not lasting motivators. They are temporary, then comfort sets back in, or you stop not because it is hard, because it will always be hard, but because the voice says “this isn’t who you are, what do you think you are doing”.  The points where you should be celebrating the progress of your goal becomes a stopping point. The conversation starts again, it derails you and you know it’s wrong.

I’ve made progress since I first wrote my list back in 2011. The journey has started and I’m still progressing.  The next step is to throw away the scale. I don’t need it. I’m a healthy weight for my height and age.  At this point in my body image journey, the scale is not going to provide me with positive feedback or motivation. It becomes just another fixation and upsetting point. The number sets me back, it tells me there was failure. It’s not really true. Instead I’m going to listen to my body, not a inanimate objects measurement of who I am.

Peace out scale, you and your trash talking are not welcome here anymore.  Because guess what, this girl can do 25 real push ups and you will never measure that success.

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#3

My 30 by 30 list is quickly approaching the “end”. I turn 30 the end of October. I recently read through the list and realized there are some that I will complete before then and others that I will not. I am okay with that. It was a good list and many of the items pushed me into new activities and patterns. A positive experience that I hope to carry through into a new list.

This weekend will mark the completion of item #3, complete a race in a 10 new states. This means a state I had not previously run a race in or visited. I could have visited the state but I had to never had run a race there.

  1. St. Louis, Missouri November 2011
  2. Tucson Arizona December 2011
  3. Fargo, North Dakota May 2012
  4. San Diego, California August 2012
  5. Denver, Colorado October 2012
  6. Pensacola, FL February 2013
  7. New Orleans, Louisiana March 2013
  8. Washington DC-March 2013
  9. Hilton Head, South Carolina- July 2013
  10. Sioux Falls, South Dakota- September 2013
  11. South Jordan, Utah-October 2013

I’m pretty proud of this list. Almost all the races on here are a 10k or farther, the exceptions being Hilton Head and Denver, those were both 5k races with their own challenges. This weekend I also hope to finally reach the goal of a sub two hour half marathon. Fingers crossed.

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Food for Travel

I just returned from a quick weekend trip to Denver. I jetted off to visit Mile high for a Dave Matthews Band concert with Snoop Dogg as the opening act. I knew it was some where I needed to be. I convinced my fellow DMB fan and bff to fly in to meet me. I love traveling but I don’t love the bulge and tight pants that often happen after it. I also have yet to figure out why everything at the airport is 4,000 times more expensive. Here are a few tips to helping you stick to a budget and healthy food choices.

1. Bring an empty water bottle. TSA will let you bring an empty reusable water bottle with you. I bring my Nalogen bottle with me and fill it after I make it through. Some airports even have the fancy bottle water fountain making it easier to fill. This will help you stay hydrated while keeping that $3 in your pocket.

2. Bring Snacks. I recently discovered the joys of baby food pouches. Yes, it sounds weird. However, these are a great way of getting a quick snack that is low calorie and nutrient rich. Due to the packaging you also don’t need to worry about spills or spoilage. They are available in various flavors. I go for the organic brands available at Target. They retail around 1.25-1.79ish a pouch.  You may get weird looks from your friend or strangers but if you eat it at the airport, there will always be something weirder quickly distracting them. Other snack pack worthy of your purse space: Larabars, bananas, nuts, dried fruit and oatmeal packs.

3. Stay at hotels with free breakfast. This was my second favorite feature of our Denver hotel. They had fresh fruit and made to order omelets available. This one may seem simple but it when researching hotels, I was amazed at how many did not offer complimentary breakfast. A great breakfast is a great start to your day. It also means one less meal to budget.

4. Research the restaurants in the areas you are going. A little bit of online sleuthing is worth the time when you know ahead of time what places offering specials/happy hours and menus friendly to your needs. You can plan your meals around the times and know ahead of time where you are going to eat. This not only helps you make better choices but reduces the stress of “where to eat” when you are hangry(it’s a thing).

5. Hotel Amenities. Beyond free breakfast, will you have a fridge or microwave in your hotel room? If yes, that means additional snacks or things to bring along on the road trip. If not, it may mean unexpectedly throwing out food. Most rooms have a coffee maker, which  can heat water for oatmeal.  Remember, if you bring food eaten with utensils to bring that utensil.

I started using these tips after an unexpected 6 hour flight left me hungry and barely enough time to make my connection. I was starving when I landed. When you put yourself in a stressed state you are likely to make poor choices and overeat. I felt bloated for days from one weather delayed flight. Now, I carry snacks. I know I am prepared and my body stays happy. These simple tips require planning but your wallet and body will thank you for it.

 

 

 

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So You Want to be a Runner

runRecently, a Facebook friend posted a status with the question of “how do I start running?”.  A question I contemplated while out on my long training run this morning. I’ve been running since 2007, mostly shorter distances and launched into longer distances in 2009. Even with several races under my belt and mileage in the hundreds I am by no means a guru or expert. It did get me thinking about what got me started and kept me going.

First, consult your doctor. This has reasons beyond a legal consequence, but usually if you’ve been sedentary or haven’t been in a while, you really should start there. You may discover something that will help you with your training. For instance, through blood work you can find out if you are low in iron, vitamin d and other essential vitamins. Properly treating that will help your athletic endeavors.  Plus, if you find out you have asthma before you can better prepare for runs.

Okay, with that out of the way, where you do you start? Many places will say the beauty of running is that it can be done with minimal investment. This is sort of true. You can certainly spend a lot of money on a heart rate monitor, shoes, outfits and other gadgets. Do you need all of that? Well, sort of, proper running shoes really are important. It helps prevent injury and will help you feel better during runs. You can avoid knee, hips, heel, lower back and foot pain by having the right fit and shoe type.  If you don’t want to wander down to your local running store, there are plenty of online resources to help you start. Road Runner Sports is one of my favorite places to buy running shoes from because they have great search options and prices. Not just that, they will let you run/try out the shoe for 60 days and still return it if you don’t like it, if you are a VIP member. No, they are not paying me, that is just my opinion.

Clothes are a bit more tricky. It really depends on where you live and what you already own. You need to be comfortable when engaging in an otherwise uncomfortable activity. You will sweat, fabrics do different things with sweat. Tech shirts are different from cotton and have a different price tag. At the same time, you don’t need to wander down to Lululemon and buy $400 dollars worth(which is what like two outfits?). You’ll need things that don’t chafe(aka rub your skin), lead to blisters, or leave you cold/hot. It’s easy to get carried away with cute work out outfits and wanting something of everything. My guidelines for needs are the following.

  • 2-3 tank tops
  • 2-3 shorts/skirts whatever your preference
  • 2-4 pants/capris
  • 3-5 shirts
  • 2 long sleeve
  • 3-5 sports bras(if you are a girl)
  • sunglasses
  • headband/visor/hat

These numbers will vary if you live in a warm climate where you may never need pants. I work out 3-6 times a week depending on where I am with training. If you run outside, you can add 20 deg to the outside temp and that is what you will need to dress for when running. If you live in an unpredictable climate like Minneapolis, you can bet you’ll need to add in more layering if you want to run outside in the winter. Sunglasses or visor type gear is essential when it’s sunny. Squinting is not fun and can be dangerous. A visor is great because it acts as a headband and blocks the sun in one deal.

Okay so now you have your doctor’s approval and gear, now what? You need a plan. This depends on where you are at physically. Find a goal, do you want to run 5 miles? Do you want to do a race of a certain distance? Once you figure out your goal, find a plan to help you get there. There are tons of apps that will help you with this. There are lots of training plans free and at a cost.  Download ones that fit your need or budget. Music helps run fly by. Setting a playlist with motivating songs will help you focus on something. If you don’t own any music you can look into Pandora or other radio based apps. I suppose if you don’t have a smart phone you would need to invest in some type of music player if you don’t already own one. iPod shuffles are awesome, they are small, hold enough songs for most distances and easy to use

Remember, not every run is going to be awesome. You will have tough runs. Find a support system, be it a friend you text after/before that holds you accountable or a local running group you train with, but it does help. Like anything, it will take time. Continue to research and read up on it. There are some really great fitness/running blogs and magazines that will provide you with motivation, tips and inspirational stories. It connects you to an otherwise very solo sport.

What are you waiting for, get going!

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