Your Body is a Wonderland

Your Body is a Wonderland

I just returned from my week down at the beach.  I feel refreshed, relaxed and thankful that I get to spend time there every year.  This year was especially good because my entire family was able to get down.  That doesn’t happen often so we enjoyed our time together.   I was able to get my weekly runs completed on some nice flat running surfaces, as well as do some strength work in a beautiful park.  I used the walk/run interval strategy for my runs as part of my plans to heal my aching achilles and feet.  My runs went really well, but I still experienced some pain in my ankles and walking stairs continues to be difficult.  I’m continuing this journey and will make an appointment this week to see a physical therapist or doctor to check in on this stiffness and pain.

Last week I talked about making the switch to a Galloway walk/run plan to ensure I am able to complete the New York Marathon.  I talked about my struggles in making this switch because my ego keeps telling me I’m less of an athlete if I have to do it this way.  This week I’d like to explore a little bit about how media and marketing have contributed to my feelings.  While I recognize this is a personal struggle, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the fact that many women are body shamed for not having the perfect runners body.  It may not be intentional, but there is that pause when you tell someone you are a runner and they look surprised and/or do the eyes up and down your body.  Yup, it happens often and leaves you feeling like you need to then say something in response.

Thankfully, I’ve never been body shammed publicly on runs (that I know of), but there are many women who have been.  Women who have been laughed at or had to endure comments from onlookers about how they “may need to up their mileage.”  Anyone who runs knows it’s hard enough just to get out there and when you don’t have that perfect runners body it can be even harder.  I’m very self conscious about running and always put myself down about it – not fast enough, not looking good today, etc.   It actually took me almost two years to be willing to put on a pair of shorts to run outside!  I’ve gotten past that at this point and truly just run and tune that inner dialogue out.

Looking at the Galloway method, I’ve come to realize that there are many misconceptions out there about using this walk run interval strategy.  I also realize that there are some underlying contributing factors to these perceptions.  I’ve actually heard some runners saying, “those Galloway girls are big.”  Newsflash, not all Galloway runners are large, overweight, out of shape or beginners.  This months Women’s Running magazine, dubbed as “devoted to beginners”, discussed the effective use of walk run intervals for beginners and beyond.  It was an interesting read and really outlined the benefits of using this strategy.  I think the cover was beautiful and I am NOT in any way personally attacking or body shaming anyone.  I’m really just wondering today about our perceptions of runners bodies and how media strongly impacts these perceptions.  The gorgeous cover model on this issue had a body very different from the models who normally grace the cover of this magazine.  I have a subscription and love this magazine, but wonder why.  Why is it that the magazine devoted to beginners and walk run intervals has a cover that is different from all the others?

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It’s very disheartening when you are trying to feel good about yourself when you are faced with these types of images linked to certain types of activities.  Runners come in all body sizes and shapes.  Go to any race and look around and you will soon feel better.  There are runners of all sizes and shapes and most are very welcoming and encouraging.    Women’s Running magazine is well aware of the feelings of women runners who do not have the perfect runners body.  Recently, they featured a plus size runner on their cover and she spoke candidly about her feelings of looking at magazines and not finding herself represented in any of them.   My question then is why does featuring a curvy woman runner became an “event”?  Why is this not the norm to include all types of running bodies on the cover of a running magazine?  There are many of us out there running and wanting to improve our health that do not have the perfect runner body.  Shouldn’t we be equally represented on the covers of running magazines and not seen as an occasional event.

Many women have body issues, this is a known fact.  Yes, we are personally responsible for our choices and how we deal with these issues.  Personally, I choose to recognize that fitness comes in many different forms.  There is something out there for all of us and as long as we are moving it’s all good.  This week I am proud of myself for using the walk run interval strategy to get my miles done.  I ran them proudly and got in three great workouts.  My long run on Saturday burned over 1100 calories and that’s nothing to sneeze about.  This week I choose to celebrate my work rather than beat myself up that it’s not what it was, or what others feel it should be.  It was actually exactly what I needed.

I’d love to hear from you about your journey to reclaim your health.  How’s it going?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Money Trees

Money Trees

Ever wonder why healthy living has to be so darn expensive?  From higher prices on organic food to expensive gym memberships, it never ceases to amaze me how people take advantage of those seeking to live a healthy life.  There are so many scammers out there preying upon those desperate to lose weight.

Recently, I fell victim to one of the latest fads.  I knew going in that it was overpriced and told myself I’d just take the free class.  I think a gym membership of over $100 per month is totally ridiculous, but people were plunking down their money around me.  I was looking for a cross training option to eliminate one run per week so I thought I’d give it a try.  People from my school were going so I thought it’d be fun to go with a group.  I decided to call to set up an appointment to take the free class they were offering.  I should have known at that moment not to get involved!  The bells were ringing, but I chose not to listen.  When I made the appointment for the free class, they asked for my credit card to hold a spot.  I said, no way.  I am not buying anything so I will not give my card.  They said they needed it in the event I failed to show up.  Hmmmm  My friend graciously used her card (she was a member) to hold the spot for me.

After the class, which I did enjoy, I agreed to sign up for one class per week at $89 per month plus tax.  I did think the price was high, but felt ok about it as I used to pay that for yoga classes.   When I arrived for my first class at the studio (not free) I was informed that I had to purchase, or rent, a heart rate monitor.  I informed them that I already owned a chest strap and was in fact wearing it with my watch.  They told me I had to purchase, or rent, theirs in order to have my results up on the board and emailed to me after class.  I asked how much the strap was.  The monitor would be another 80ish dollars.  When I refused, the person at the desk seemed shocked.  I guess nobody every refused before.  When she reminded me I wouldn’t get my results displayed, I informed her without my glasses I couldn’t see them anyway.  But, you won’t get your emailed results, to which I replied I’d get them from my watch.

After going a few times, I realized that I wasn’t getting to replace a run after all.  When you take this class you run/walk for 30 minutes on a treadmill every class.  At this point I decided to cancel my membership as it was not really meeting my needs.  I knew you had to do so in writing so I emailed and texted the owner my request to cancel my membership.  I asked for confirmation and the date my membership would end.  Of course, cancelling is not an easy thing either.  I received a voice message stating I’d have to come in to the studio and fill out paperwork to cancel.  Wow.

This newest fad in gym memberships, the boutique gym is really just another way to rip people off.  From the first phone call I knew this gym was out to make money at every turn.  While it is a nice workout, it is surely not worth over $119 per month which most girls in my office are paying, some as much as $179.  The brand new, very nice gym my husband joined costs him $20 per month.  They have the exact same equipment.  They don’t even advertise and they are doing just fine.  Clearly, the other gym is appealing to women who will pay just about anything to lose weight.

Today I will go over to the gym and fill out the paper work.  I am sure I will get a hard sell to stay and that really annoys me.  I hope my experience serves as a reminder to us all of what I already knew.  You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a great workout.  I gave up my gym memberships long ago in favor of working out at home.  I am motivated and don’t need a boutique experience to keep me on track.  I can lace up my sneakers and do that exact same workout right here.  I have all the same equipment they had.   Here are some great workouts you can do at home for free.

Walking/Running – just lace up your sneakers and go.  Keep a pair in your car at all times and you can walk at lunch during work, or on the drive home.  Sometimes, I pull over at the local park and do just that.  I purchased a treadmill for home and keep it in my basement for those bad weather days and months.  Best investment ever.  I got mine at Costco and they even came and assembled it on delivery.

Elliptical – I also purchased an elliptical machine at Costco and have this in my basement.  I’m not a total fan of it, but it got me through many injuries.  Blast the music and go.  I like to alternate songs, one fast – one slow.

Yoga – I purchased yoga burn for under $20 and it has many workouts, but you can truly find so many classes for free online.  Google on youtube for any type of yoga class.

Weight training – Many classes are online for free.  You can purchase some hand weights.  I have a professional weight bench and set up (from my husband).  We’ve had it for over 20 years.

The options are limitless and again in most cases free.  Want a boutique experience, invest in a great sound system and spend the money fixing up your personal gym.  Me, I like to exercise some days in my pajamas.

Have you called victim to a fad recently?  What happened to you?  Please share, as we all need to remind ourselves often that expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better!

 

Mindset Matters

Mindset Matters

In the past, I primarily lived with thoughts of all the things I couldn’t do well.  Negativity permeated every inch of my inner dialogue.  I couldn’t run as fast as my friends, I couldn’t run without experiencing pain in my ankles and feet afterwards and I couldn’t lose weight as fast as others could. When asked to slow down my heart rate during runs, I whined about how slow I had to run and called it slogging (slow jogging). Listening to this week’s podcasts reminded me that my power to succeed resides in my mindset, therefore developing it must be a critical part of any training plan.

As part of this type of training, we must tap into our inner dialogue and begin to shift it.  I’ve begun shifting my thoughts and tapping in to focus instead on all the things I can do.   Filling my head with all the things that were going well has helped me remain positive about my training.   Here are some simple ideas to help change your inner dialogue and develop your mindset.

Meditation

I wish I could say I do this regularly, but I don’t.  Research does suggest that meditation has major benefits to many areas of overall wellness.  Mindspace app is one of the tools I downloaded.  I’ve used it during the night when I can’t fall back asleep, but I’ve yet to develop a regular routine.  I do, however, think of my long runs as meditation as I am in a mindfulness zone and think deeply.

Podcasts

There are tons of podcasts you can listen to for developing your mindset.  I have found many motivational speakers and love to listen to podcasts on long runs.  Sure does make the time pass by with less focus on the struggle.  My favorite podcasts right now are put out by Another Mother Runner and Running Lifestyle.  Find what speaks to you and listen to learn.

Read

One of the best books for me was recommended by my yoga teacher a few years back.  It still is the one that I reread when I need reminding of the power of mindset.

I wrote a summary of this book here Life Change

How has your mindset affected your training?  What have you done to develop and harness the power of positivity?  Please share in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Try Something New

Try Something New

When you find yourself in a rut and can’t seem to snap out of it, try something new.  Step outside your comfort zone and you may be surprised by how it rekindles your workout motivation.  That’s been my mission these past two weeks and I slowly feel myself getting excited again.  This week alone, I tried two new things Galloway running and Orangetheory.  Both were enjoyable and both proved to spark my motivation levels.

Galloway running is based on the premise that continuous use of specific muscles and tendons can lead to exhaustion and injury.  The Galloway run-walk-run method builds recovery into your runs. You should be able to continue a training regimen for a whole season leading up to your goal race without injury and wouldn’t that be a nice change!  I actually joined this running club last year, but never attended a session.  My mindset was one that if I am running, I need to run.  I rarely took any walk breaks over my distances.  During one very hilly 10K distance race last year, I allowed myself to walk up the steep hills and run the downhill and flat sections of the course.  Imagine my shock when I had the fasted 10K time ever that day.  I did think there might be something to this walk/run idea but still didn’t embrace it.

This week, I decided to go out and try it.  A local club member agreed to meet me out at the park and take me through the paces.  It was an enjoyable three mile run for me and I felt refreshed and ready for the full day ahead of me.  We conversed the whole run and I wasn’t worrying about when it would be over, or even about my next breath.  It didn’t matter to me if the run signal came midway up a hill.  I thought I’d hate the stop and start nature of the run, but it felt fluid and natural.  I will most definitely do this type of run again, hopefully next week.

Last night I decided to take a free class at a new local box gym – Orangetheory.  The sales girl has been calling me for over a year, but I’ve never gone.  Since many of my friends have been going and talking about it, I decided to take the plunge and add it to my, Try Something New list.  The group class is conducted wearing a heart rate monitor and your results are projected on a screen for all to see.  I guess they think that’s motivational to the competitive ones in the group.  Me, I couldn’t even see the screen without my glasses so not so much.  My friend was next to me during the 30 minute treadmill segment and she was looking at it and updated me a few times.  The workout is high intensity interval training, keeping yourself in the right heart rate zone throughout the sessions.  It is a 60 minute group class split into cardio and strength training.  I started the class on the treadmill doing what was comparable to the walk/run workout I did in the park.  I alternated between slow jog, push pace and all out running for 30 minutes under the direction of the instructor.  I then moved to a rowing machine segment and strength training.  We rowed for a bit, then did some TRX work, push ups, squats, planks, then back to rowing.  It was a fun, fast paced work out.  For me, I don’t need the competition aspect, seriously who cares what anyone else is doing.  I did like the equipment, music and change of pace though.  I did commit to doing one of these classes per week.  I would have done two, but the price to me is over the top.  Once per week will have to do and I will count this workout as one of my weekly runs.

Overall, doing new things does add spark to your life.  I felt better this week than I have in a long while.  I think it’s the combination of trying new things and being around people.  I am looking forward to this week’s workouts and will continue my climb back from the long winter of broken toes.   What have you done this week to step outside your daily rut?  How has it helped rekindle your motivation?  Be sure to leave your comments below.  I look forward to reading them.

Sleep Your Secret Weapon

Sleep Your Secret Weapon

My sleep struggles are well known to anyone who has received an email or text from me at 3:00 AM.  My midnight musings are well documented and laughed about.  Sometimes I find people during the day and say, “Last night I was thinking..”, followed by my latest idea.  It seems that my mind is very active during the night and some of my best ideas come to me then.  I really was never concerned, or annoyed by it.  I’ve just come to accept the fact that I don’t sleep more than 5 hours a night.

I first wore my Fitbit to track steps, but soon discovered a second benefit to this little gadget.  Fitbit trackers have a sleep cycle option that provides you with data on the quality of your sleep.  While I doubt it’s totally accurate, it sure does open your eyes about how well, or not, you sleep.  The report also shows how restless you are, as well as how many hours you are likely in REM sleep.  All this data got my attention because I noticed I was very restless and not getting much REM, or deep sleep each night.  This was troubling because that is the restorative sleep that is so needed by my body.

After reading and researching issues with sleeping, I came up with the following plans:

Find Out How Much Sleep I Really Need?

I used the data from my Fitbit to establish how much sleep I really do need each night.  While I like to lay in bed and read, I was really only sleeping 5-6 hours a night.  Knowing this made me realize that going to bed at 8:00 PM would always have my body waking at 2:00 – 3:00 AM, making this nothing to stress about.

Establish a Sleep Cycle

Creating a routine has been very helpful to me.  I actually like waking at 3:00 – 4:00 AM.  I find it to be the most peaceful, yet productive time of day for me.  I like to have an hour or so to read and write.  I like to have an hour or so to exercise.  I like to not feeling rushed in the morning.  Knowing that I want to be awake by 4:00 AM the latest helped me establish a bedtime.  I am in bed ready for sleep by 9:00 PM each night, unless of course we have an event.  Thankfully my husband likes the early morning too, as does my dog, so it’s all good.

Establish a Nightly Routine

Unplug your technology, including the phone, prior to bedtime.  I unplug by 7:00 PM each night to allow myself time to unwind.  I open the window to make the room slightly chilly as this can improve your sleep.  In the winter I turn down the thermostat slightly.  I am not a fan of television but do like to read in bed.  This works perfectly for me as it also helps me to fall asleep, unless it’s a thriller!

It is important to sleep in a dark room, so black out the room to improve your sleep.  Research has shown that exposure to blue light greatly affects your sleep cycle.  Blue light, or light that comes from most of our devices, suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other type of light.  This is why it is critical to unplug at night to ensure better sleep.  If you simply must use your devices at night, they sell orange glasses that you can wear to block the blue light.  They are quite funny looking, but who cares if they work.  I keep a pair on my night table for nights I want to catch up on email.

Improving sleep can greatly improve your health.  Getting adequate amounts of sleep each night can help you lose weight and gain strength.  When you are not getting adequate sleep, your body can produce more cortisol causing weight gain.  When you get adequate sleep, your body may have an increase in testosterone causing strength gains.  This sounds like a win-win to me, making it worth the time spent improving my sleep cycle.

How are you sleeping these days?  If you could improve your sleep with a few simple changes, would you?  Please share below.

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Avocado Oil

Avocado Oil

People tout the many health benefits of using coconut oil.  Some even suggest eating it as a super food.   Others say you should swap it for your olive oil when cooking, or on salad.  I tried cooking with coconut oil and noticed it changed the taste of my food.  Coconut oil has a very distinct flavor and using it in my recipes changed the taste of my meal and not always for the better.  Even in my super food coffee, I noticed a different taste when using coconut oil.  This sparked me to start researching oils to see what other options were available to me.

Cold pressed olive oil is still a staple oil in my home, but no longer my first choice.  In my personal opinion, the best choice for a healthy oil is avocado oil which is produced from the avocado fruit.  This oil is made from the pulp surrounding the pit, not the seed.  Avocado oil doesn’t have a strong flavoring that overpowers, or competes with the flavor of foods.  It also has a high smoke point which makes it ideal for cooking.

When choosing an oil for cooking it is extremely important to learn about its smoke point.  This is the temperature at which your oil begins to smoke in the pan.  Healthy oils, like olive oil, can become unhealthy when they reach their smoke point because it begins to break down and nutrients are lost.  Further, dangerous compounds can be created which are detrimental to your health.  I always used olive oil in my cooking and had no idea about this!  I no longer use olive oil for cooking and have replaced it with avocado oil.  Unlike coconut oil, this oil does not overpower my food.

When using any oil for cooking, it is very important to consider the smoke point (the temperature at which the oil starts to be visibly smoking in the pan) of the oil. Even a healthy oil like benefit-rich olive oil becomes unhealthy when it reaches its smoke point. When an oil reaches its smoke point, the structure of the oil begins to break down, nutrients are lost, flavor is changed and most dangerously, compounds can be created that are damaging to your health. Avocado oil’s high smoke point make it a top choice for any frying, browning or sautéing recipes.

I use avocado oil on my salads, as well as cold pressed olive oil.  I find the oil to be very versatile and it has become my go to oil for cooking.  Further, there are said to be many health benefits to using it including improving heart health, lowering cholesterol, arthritis support and skin care.  I buy my avocado oil online, but I have seen it available in Costco.  I don’t like to purchase super large containers of oil as I prefer my oil to be fresh.  I also don’t purchase oils in plastic containers ever!

Spend some time learning about the oils you use.  I think you will be shocked by what you learn.  I never knew there were so many different types of oils, or the dangers of using the wrong oil for cooking.

What type of oil are you using?  Please share your experiences below.

Avocado Oil I Use:

Weakest Link

Weakest Link

A consultant I work with professionally has stated, “As a District, you’re only as good as your weakest school.”  Clearly, his philosophy aligns with mine in that he’s saying we are meant to lift others up, rather than leaving them to struggle.    During my morning run I reflected on this as I thought about my body.  Surely this thinking could also somehow apply to my physical wellness.  Therefore, I began to think about how I am only as strong of a runner as my weakest link.

What are the weakest links in our bodies and how does leaving them to struggle impact our mindset?  I can tell you these weak links can have a huge impact on they physical body and the mindset.  Pain is never welcome in our training plans.  The constant struggle with it invites those negative voices to start yelling inside.  You’re never getting past this, you’ll always get hurt, blah, blah, blah.  Ignoring the problem clearly hasn’t worked for me.  Being proactive and wearing certain shoes has helped somewhat, but not enough to eliminate the struggle.  Warm up and rolling has also helped, but still I’m experiencing some swelling.  This leaves me thinking that it is indeed about strengthening that weak link – lifting it up to join the party.

This connection really helped me focus today as I’ve been experiencing pain and swelling in my ankle near the site of my peroneal tendon.  I’ve been getting super nervous about it too.   Thinking about the weakest link theory, I spent the morning researching ways to strengthen my weakest tendon.  Yes, I’ve been rolling and stretching after runs, but I’ve done little targeted strength training for this tendon.  As I sit her soaking my ankle in Epsom salt post run, I’m excited about the new plans.

I found some cool exercises on Youtube that are perfect for me.  They involve my foam roller, bands and Bosu. These are all tools I have in the house so I was able to get right to work today!  It’s amazing how having a plan has already lifted my spirits.  I’m feeling hopeful that I will get this in control and not reinjure the tendon.  I ran a little faster today and lighter.  Here’s my current plans for my ankles and feet.   If you are suffering with any issues, feel free to join the party.  I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a good one.

Warm-Up

I’ve been doing the Silly Toes warm up for over a year now.  It most definitely helps me stay healthy in my feet and ankles.  It’s super quick and fun.  I never skip the warm-up no matter how late I am getting out.  My new addition is to do this every single day, whether I am running or not.  A quick way to start the day off right.  Here’s my running coach demonstrating it beautifully.

 

Strength Training

I plan to incorporate strength exercises daily. They are super quick and can be done before bed, or after a run. I can even do them in my office if need be. For the resistance band section, I put both feet in my resistance band (red).

 

Post Run

I’m adding this to my rolling sessions after each run. I already shared my rolling protocols for my feet/ankles, but definitely will be adding this. I already did it today.

 

Stretching

Three times a week, if not more, I can do these stretches. I already tried them today.

 

In addition to all of this, I currently do try to do yoga toes pose after each run.  I can try to up this to days I don’t run as well.  It is quite an intense pose, but one I’ve come to love.  I guess what doesn’t kill me does indeed make me stronger.

 

What’s your weakest link?  Can you create a plan today to strengthen and lift yourself up?Please share below if you’ve already done so, or plan to start.

Resources Used in My Routines