Running on Running

Oh running, you awkward bird. Sometimes I love you, sometimes I despise you, and so often, I love and hate you within steps of each other. Regardless, when my feet hit the pavement (or treadmill, ick) and I pull up to a stop, I’m so happy I got through it at all. For me, as running presents my biggest fitness challenge and the one thing I never believed I would be able to do until I did it, it always feels like an accomplishment. And isn’t that the reason we keep going? Not just health, both of the physical and mental variety, but also because it requires that we test our endurance, our power, and our strength. Running, walking, swimming, biking, lifting, dancing, and all of the other great movements our bodies allow us, they are empowering and sometimes that means it’s a struggle.

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My clients will often ask my thoughts on running and my most common answer is that it’s love/hate, but in a way that’s a gift to my body. I try not to do things that don’t feel good or beneficial. This doesn’t mean that DOMS are not very real and sometimes a symptom of working out, but there are always limitations, whether physical or emotional, that come with exercise and it’s all about what feels good and what your body needs and wants to endure to get to its finest health point.

Running also provided me with an excellent excuse to get my booty outside in the sunshine and take advantage of the day yesterday. Not that it’s not completely acceptable to spend some time soaking up the sun in the backyard, but really there’s only so much unproductive lounging you can get away with on a Monday afternoon. So after a grueling, but satisfying strength training session focused on the back and biceps, I headed home and outside for a run. It wasn’t my finest or my fastest. I had run a nice four miler the day before so my legs were questioning my motives, but it was worth it.

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My rest day was also worth it this morning because even though exercise always starts the day off right, gets the good feelings flowing, and keeps you strong, especially when that work includes motivating people to exercise, muscles need time to revover.

If nothing else, exercise is an easy way to do something good for yourself whether it’s for twenty minutes or an hour.

What are you going to do for yourself today?

An Appreciation Piece

This little blog is about health and wellness among other silly topics. I focus on the health aspect a ton, especially in regards to eating and exercising, but I think it’s time to talk a little bit more about wellness. This topic is so broad because it ranges from mental and intellectual strength, as well as the things you like to do and the people in which you spend time. Wellness, among other more complicated factors, equates to happiness.

My family is a huge contributor to that happiness, from childhood to now. I’ve been writing snippets of my weight loss journey into book form, but sometimes I find myself drifting into more of a memoir, thinking back on my childhood.

I’m lucky because I am so close to much of my family, especially my parents, sister, brother, and now brother-in-law. There are three other people who have made such an important impact on my life and since this blog shares so much of my story, I’d like to share a little bit about them.

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My Auntie Bea, Uncle Peter, and cousin Maura have been there for me and my siblings every single step of the way, from the big occasions like graduations and weddings, to the smaller daily events, such as picking us up from school, going to the movies, or just hanging out at the house talking and playing games.

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Summers always include visiting them at their summer home- days spent at the beach, trips to The Christmas Tree Shoppe, cookouts in the backyard, cocktail hours, long-lasting card games, and trips to Dairy Queen to end the night. Vacations are always that more special, from Disney World and Storyland, to London and Oxford (we might have gotten a little fancier as we get older).

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Holidays are special for what they mean, but also the traditions we’ve built together. Movies with my Auntie Bea the day before Thanksgiving, a more intimate dinner together before the rest of the family comes over for dessert, lunch on Christmas Eve, and cheesy potatoes and games on Christmas.

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My siblings and I have dragged them to dance recitals, cheerleading competitions, and hockey games, but I don’t think they see it as being dragged- and I think that proves just how much love is there. We’ve had casual take-out dinners or fancy meals in the private rooms and laughed just as hard no matter where we were.

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There are so many memories that we’ve made together and so much of that has made me into the person I am today. It is their presence, love, and support that has given me strength. Not everyone gets a BB & the P with M, and my siblings and I, we’re the lucky ones because we do.

 

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As a whole, we don’t get to choose who we are related to, but through a million and one lifetimes, I would choose them. And I hope they know that.

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My Cat Is An Asshole (But So Am I, Apparently)

No one said running was pretty. In fact, I am fairly certain I look like a hot mess when I run, except, minus the hot! Especially when it’s cold and there’s snot dripping and the wind whipping my face all red. We don’t even have to mention what I look like when I run. I know that some people’s strides look all nice and natural, but I know I look like a stumbling fool. I embrace it. Also, I’m a stumbling fool who (probably) can run farther than you, so, HA. Oh sorry, that’s not what this blog’s all about, especially on the eve of Thanksgiving.

This is what I look like on a run, minus the movement aspect.

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It was a solid 4-mile run with no pain or foot falling asleep-ness, which proves that I had been overtraining and hurting myself, rather than helping. I’ve kept my workouts at the hour-hour and fifteen minutes range and feel strong! After my run, I did some Yoga and stretching to cool-down.

Total body workouts certainly have their merits, but I’ve been mixing things up on the strength training aspect to isolate muscle groups and I think it’s been a good change. Yesterday’s workout consisted of biceps, chest, and back exercises. Once I moved through those circuits- four exercises, 3 sets, 12 reps each- I did another core circuit before finishing up on the stair master for 12 minutes. That ish is hard.

Let’s talk food.

The lunch I have on file is leftover from the previous night’s dinner. Chicken, rice, and salad. Delicious!

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Breakfast #1: egg/egg-white scramble with cheese and a homemade waffle. Solid.

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Breakfast #2: Pancakes! I mixed things up a bit by putting white chocolate peanut butter on the inside and dark chocolate peanut butter on the outside. I’m a revolutionist!

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Let’s talk about this asshole for a second.

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You’ve probably seen the video going around Facebook with the cucumbers scaring the crap out of cats? If not, there’s a video out there that shows a bunch of people laying cucumbers down next to their cats, then the cats jumping a mile high. It’s funny. If so, then you just read a recap for no reason. Ha. (I feel mean today. Am I being mean?)

Anyways, I was inspired to try this on my own cat. As evidenced in the picture above, you can see from the second I began to approach, he was suspicious of my intentions. As he well should be in this case, but not usually! Anyways, I distracted him with my cell phone and laid the cucumber down next to him, camera on video and ready to capture a brilliant moment.

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Instead, he sniffed it once and turned away, disinterested and very much unafraid. Even the dog, who is afraid of his own shadow, gave a sniff without any hesitation. I’m a little letdown.

Joke’s on me. “Who’s the asshole now?”- Bandit (direct quote).

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate and a Happy Regular Thursday to all who don’t! Eat, drink, and be extremely merry regardless of a holiday (or lack thereof). Don’t forget to fit in your exercise either today or the day after!

Weekend Catch-Up

The world is a darker place after what happened on Friday, but the truth is, it’s been darkening for awhile now. Bad things happen when people remain driven by anger, hatred, and cowardice. We will mourn, cry, and suffer, but terror and violence cannot persevere when we live our lives to the fullest, with love, hope, and kindness.

I’m starting to suspect that writing is bad for a person’s health. I’ll put together a carefully composed essay on the meaning of life and draw in few readers and no response, then I’ll type a silly story that has no purpose or sense of direction and get a high in likes for the day. Not to mention how the act of writing itself is difficult. It’s a muscle that needs to be trained and used, but it’s a battle to hone it. Sometimes, the spindles contract with you in ease and other times, tension is high and it’s a struggle.  And yet, here we (okay, maybe just I) still are (am?). Nothing that comes easy in life is worth it, right?

Anyways, as I type this up, I’m munching on a greek yogurt with grapes and a scoop of peanut butter for my post-workout snack, sipping on a warm cup of coffee, and listening to Adele. I’ve been angsty in my music choices these days- Adele, Hozier, Ingrid Michaelson.

After two weekends full of excitement, this one was tame. On Saturday, I had an early morning at work, but first, I fueled up with this simple and delicious peanut butter toast.

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After work, I came home craving breakfast food, so I chopped up a ton of veggies and scrambled everything together with an egg and a couple of egg whites. So good and the perfect meal for a run!

It was cold! The wind made things almost unbearable, but my legs were itching to get out there, so I bundled up and didn’t feel like the temperature was too much of a hassle once I got moving.

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I was in a complacent mood when it came to dinner. My stomach was screaming for Indian food, but my body didn’t want to get off the couch. I settled for paneer tikka masala from Trader Joes! I beefed the meal up by adding sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Forgot to take a picture, but once it was on the plate, it looked pretty!

The first meal of the day on Sunday came in the form of an egg and egg white omelet with cheese and an English muffin. I also had a few strawberries, but we were out of most produce at this point.

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That Indian craving was not going away, so for lunch, I had another meal thanks to Trader Joes, this time chicken tikka masala. I added the peppers, mushrooms, and spinach.

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Someone else was feeling the chill of November and needed to be warmed. The best part of this picture is his expression because you just know he is plotting all of our deaths. I try not to be a crazy pet person, but I couldn’t help myself this time. Every time I see it, I burst out laughing. And to be honest, these days, we take all the happy, laughing moments we can get!

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Though it was my rest day from formal workouts, I met up with my friend Molly for an hour or so for a walk. We covered about four miles and it felt great to catch up and stretch my legs before hankering down for an evening of studying. It’s crunch time, friends!

Dinner satisfied another craving I’ve had as of late- chicken cacciatore. Chicken, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and pasta- yum!

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This morning, I was more than a little excited for breakfast. Yet again, I made an egg and 2 egg white scramble with cheese (breakfast of the moment). This time, I paired the eggs with a bagel slim with a pat of butter, blueberries, blackberries, and a half of a banana.

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The meal well-prepared me for the day’s workout! Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of time developing a new workout plan for the month or so. I’m quite excited about it too as I put a lot of effort into choosing grueling, effective exercises that don’t leave me in the gym for such a long time. Today, I did a series of circuit training that focused on my triceps, shoulders, chest, and core. For cardio, I hopped on the stair master (ouch) for 12 minutes and the rower for another 12.

That takes up to this moment, yogurt now finished, and me very much ready to hop in the shower. Happy Monday- here’s to a great week!

Bump-y Weekend of Fun

Well, hey. It’s been awhile, which isn’t intentional and I’m not quite sure what happened to delay my posting. All I can say is that I’m back now to our regularly scheduled blogging. October is busy and somehow basically mid-way thru?

Let’s continue with a little weekend recap. Saturday morning started off at work, but after, I rushed home to finish up putting a few things together before hightailing it my friend Katie’s apartment. Our college friend Erin is getting married at the end of this month and we’ve already kicked off some of the celebrations with her bridal shower in August, but this time it was all about the Bachelorette.

My friends from school refer to ourselves as “the core four” as there are four of us who are really close and we’re all bridesmaids (except for the bride of course).

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We started off with a delicious potluck meal that included a buffalo chicken dip, chicken parmesan, pasta, garlic bread, salad, and cupcakes for dessert. Yum!

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I would zero in on the cupcakes, but hey! I made them and I have a hell of a sweet tooth.

Second event on the agenda was an improv show in the city. So freakin’ funny. There’s something about improv that is so raw and re-actional. As a writer, I’m all about the planning and the wording, but it’s so important to have instincts and gut reactions. Color me so so impressed! Definitely something to do again soon! Though I will say they should work on their margarita.

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The rest of the night was focused on celebrating Erin with some drinking and dancing. You have to dance when you drink because you burn off all those calories and it’s just so darn fun. It’s a rule. Look it up!

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The next day, started off with some brunch and lots of water and coffee. I went simple with eggs over easy, toast, sausage, and some home fries. My eggs were half raw, which would never happen in my kitchen. Brunch is about the experience and the people you’re eating with (sometimes) and not always about the food (we’re going with that for now). The woes of being a cook in a restaurant!

Once I got home, I focused some more on rehydrating before I headed out for a run. I am so sick of my feet falling asleep- I know I need new sneakers but I was in denial- but I still made it through a wonderful 6.25 mile run on a gorgeous day. Seriously, the weather this weekend was phenomenal. I walked another two miles home and just enjoyed being outside and listening to my music. Good music is everything when it comes to running and getting in that groove.

I made a hunk of a salad for dinner to pair with the pizza my parents brought home from their lunch. I didn’t have the biggest appetite after running, but the meal hit the spot. For the rest of the night, I watched some episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer  studied (okay, so I did a little studying and a lot of watching). I also wrote quite a bit and ended up falling asleep later than I should have.

Regardless of my late start to sleep, I woke up early on Monday morning for our weekly grocery shopping trip. There was nothing but angst and pain when I realized the store didn’t have blueberries OR raspberries. That is a true nightmare. Thankfully, there were strawberries so I could keep it together. Also, I can eat apples again so we’re all good on the fruit front.

A strength training workout was also on the agenda. Despite feeling tired and somewhat affected still from Saturday night, I killed it at the gym with my lifting session and felt even stronger than last week when I hit a few milestones. To top things off, I worked through a body strength/plyometrics circuit that left me feeling nice, sweaty, and accomplished.

I should mention that I whacked my head yesterday too and am rocking the bruise and bump combination. It really was completely a moment of stupidity because all I did was bend over and knock it off something I knew was there. Whoops. I seemed to sleep fine last night and woke up so I doubt there’s a concussion…

Before work, I had a nap before a productive study session that cleared up a few points I wasn’t grasping before. I just used “before” a lot in that sentence. I was going to change it, but then I decided to mention it, so you can’t judge it. It’s a thing.

So here we are on Tuesday, which feels like a Monday, but we’re already that much closer to another Friday!

I started my day off with an egg and two egg white omelet with chicken sausage and cheese and a fresh homemade whole wheat waffle. Notice the grapes for fruit as there were no berries and the strawberries required a lot of moving other things around to get to them and I was hungry.

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Still delicious and spot-hitting!

Now for even more productivity, less head hitting, and a lovely (albeit rainy) day! Promise I won’t go as long between posts.

Finding Strength: Uphill, Downhill, On the Way

As of late, I’ve been fascinated with strength. It wields so much power, both in the physical and emotional state. Through my emotional strength, I built physical strength. I don’t succeed if I don’t have the two strengths combined.

Picture this: you’re running; it’s hot; it’s uphill; it’s downhill; it’s uphill again; your legs say no more; your mind says stop; you stop.

Picture this: you’re running; it’s hot; it’s uphill; it’s downhill; it’s uphill again; your brain says no more; your legs stop; you stop.

Two scenarios that happen to me all the time when I run. Sometimes, it depends on the sneakers or the playlist. It could be what you had for breakfast or how much water you had during the day. It’s having to use the bathroom or the workout from the day before. Sometimes, it’s necessary to stop. Sometimes, it’s necessary to keep going. I can’t tell you what’s right in each situation. It’s a matter that relies on the mind-body connection. That connection deserves to be strong.

Strength does not just mean you have the will-power to go to the gym or that you lift heavy things and put them down. It doesn’t just mean that you avoided eating the cookie or you burned 400 calories on the elliptical. Strength does not just mean success and it does not just mean overcoming failure. Strength for you, does not mean what it does for me. It’s immeasurable. It can’t be defined. Strength is your own to build, to learn, to discover.

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Strength is having the will to lead a happy and healthy life to the best of your ability and to what you can control. To quote my favorite show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which you’d know if you were paying attention!), “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” So let’s live it our way.

If I did the math right, which could very well be wrong, then my 26th birthday is 80 days away. I decided to do something productive about it.

Every day, for the next 80, I want to reflect on at least one thing in which I found strength. At the end of each post, I am going to share what I found strength in that day. I would love if you would share along with me. It can be anything that makes you feel happy, strong, healthy, and powerful. It does not have to be about exercise or any other subject in particular. I know it won’t always for me.

Today, I ran 6 miles. Some of it was uphill, some of it was downhill, and some of it was flat. My legs were beneath me, my mind was above, and my spirit within. That run, during and after, gave me strength because it’s the first time I ran in weeks (maybe months) that I didn’t feel like I was struggling to get through. I didn’t feel the need to walk or to give up. I pushed through this block and I found my strength again. It feels good.

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Let’s go for 80 days strong!

Dance Party In The Kitchen

My mom and I are currently having a dance party in the kitchen, which makes it difficult to type and to cook, but we persevere. We have to practice our dance moves for the wedding. I think we scared my sister and Nick when they walked through the door. With our greatness of course.

Speaking of perseverance, this morning while I was on the treadmill, I had to push myself through it a few times. I try to mix up my runs to incorporate different speeds and variations, especially to keep things from getting boring on the treadmill. Last week, I decided to try mixing strength and cardio up.

For my workout, I started by doing two sets of ten reps of a dumbbell strength routine before running for a 1.05 mile run. Next, I hopped off for two sets of eight reps at higher weight and a 1.10 mile run. I finished up with two sets of six reps at my highest weight and another 1.10 mile run at a faster pace. By the end, I was sweaty and sore but feeling proud that I talked myself through it. To cool down, I did a few planks before heading out to start my day.

On my way home from the gym, I actually saw a few signs for a movie filming near my house. Y’know, only the one that features Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. No biggie if I run into either of them, right? Yeah, you bet I’m on the lookout.

For my snack before the gym, I had a peanut butter roll-up with banana and raspberries. My follow-up official breakfast included two eggs I scrambled in the pan with a dash of butter, toast, and fruit. So delicious!

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Lunch was also a delicious assortment of flavors with leftover chicken potpie, mashed potato, and a salad for an extra kick of veggies. It helps to get through the day when you have a good lunch in which to look forward. Maybe that’s just me…but I doubt it.

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For dinner, many veggies were chopped up and prepared to accompany some tasty steak and brown rice. I of course dipped my tips in a little barbecue sauce for a kick of flavor.

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I can’t wait for the weekend to just sleep in and make my pancakes!