lover’s quarrel: running

Within, you will find the many faces of my post-running experience- there are two expressions, I’m either in agony or thrilled to be done. I can lift heavy, jump all around, but nothing makes me feel stronger than a solid run. This stems from my not natural ability to run. I believe some bodies are made easier to run than others. Being short and stocky is not an example of this, however, the fact that I have been able to run miles despite this, is a point of pride.

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I started running in February of 2012 on a treadmill in the basement gym of my college. 30 seconds of running, 4 minutes and 30 seconds of walking for 30 minutes. Every week or so, I would add 30 seconds to my running time. When I reached 10 minutes, I decided to see what would happen if I kept going, a mile wasn’t far out of reach.

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The first time I ran a mile, it took me 15 minutes. By the time spring came, I could run two miles straight. Being outside and off the treadmill helped me to go longer and faster. I hit 5 miles by that summer.

Running is my most tumultuous relationship as I have been on and off with it for years. Throughout spring, summer, and fall, my running is in peak form, but when winter comes around, it’s back to the treadmill (unless the ground isn’t icy or snowy) and it falls off a bit.

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The most miles I’ve been able to run is 10 and my legs were shot after. Usually I stick to 3-6 miles. Right now, my goal is to hit a 30 minute or under 5k. My most recent run on Sunday was 4 miles at a 10 minute and 20 second pace.

I can sometimes tell how my run will go based on the first two miles. If those feel like a breeze, I can extend my mileage to closer to the six mark. Sometimes I really have to push myself through those first two and then the third doesn’t seem as bad. Once I hit my groove, it starts to feel easier and I naturally gain speed.

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I’m not far off, I just need a better warm-up plan- better than just lacing up my sneakers and getting out there! Practice always makes better! And I hope that with my continued weight loss, running will become naturally easier as well. Considering I started off the summer with a pace of 12 minutes and 59 seconds with walking mixed in, I think I’m making vast improvements!

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Music is everything. I have a proclivity towards musicals and pop music, something that has a little pep and motivation to it. Much of the time, I will also listen to podcasts because it feels like I’m within a conversation- hello My Favorite Murder!

I love the feeling of finding my stride and cruising. I hate struggling and feeling like every step is a battle. Either way and in-between, my runs are always worth it.

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Running is not for everyone and I respect those who keep it from their workout plans. It’s the same reason I don’t do burpees. I HATE them. For me, running is a test of endurance and strength of which does not come easily to me and I enjoy the challenge- most of the time.

What’s your relationship like to running?

push-up to the new year

As far as New Year’s resolutions go, I continually strive to be kinder, eat healthier, and write more consistently. A new year always provides a fresh start, which is nice, but I try to stay away from naming the above three topics as the thing I’m going to focus on.

Instead, I have a somewhat fun, but challenging goal ahead.

I am going to perfect the push-up.

This means, I will be adding one push-up to my line-up every day of the year. I started on the first with one, then did two today, tomorrow will be three, and by December 31, 2018, I’ll do 365 push-ups in one day.

Now I’m not crazy and think I could do all of them at once, at least I don’t think it’s possible. But I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ll be able to do quite a bit at once and break up the rest.

As of December 31 of this year, I did 20 push-ups in a row without feeling too fatigued.

Let’s see what the year brings.

What are your fun or otherwise resolutions?

living in the moment

On Fridays, I usually post a collection of food pictures for the week, but I didn’t take any. This week was all about living in the moment.

I’m popping in today to wish you all a wonderful weekend, to thank you for reading, and to promote the wisdom and wonderfulness of staying in the moment.

Why? Because it’s an important thing to remember. Also? Because I don’t have anything else planned for this post.

Happy weekend!

Run (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It)

Even though yesterday felt like Wednesday, and I kept being letdown when realizing the truth, today is Wednesday so maybe the week is finally catching up with me.

I’m super excited because in a few short hours, I’ll be attending the Ingrid Michaelson concert in town. Ingrid’s music “gets me” and my emotions and I listen to her when I’m writing, feeling sad or lonely or overwhelmed, or want to be inspired. Yay!

Breakfast of Champions is below: scrambled eggs, English muffin with peanut butter, fruit.

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The soup I told you about is tasty! Mint spices the dish in a way I didn’t think possible, but this is why I follow most recipes instead of create them…yet. I paired the soup with half of a grilled cheese sandwich.

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Shrimp tacos! I didn’t snap a picture of the huge salad that accompanied it, mostly because it didn’t fit in the shot, but also because I was too hungry to wait. I cooked the shrimp in olive oil and only needed a dash of soyaki- it spreads far and wide- to flavor them. Quick and easy!

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Last night’s workout was an uninspired run that my body kind of hated. Running is so fickle to me, especially on the treadmill. The gym was hot and crowded and so I already had forces working against me, but I pushed forward, and did what needed to be done. 4 miles later and I was a sweaty mess, finishing my workout with a quick Yoga flow before calling it a night.

Have yourself a great Wednesday- we’re halfway through the week!

Some Thoughts

Sometimes I feel like I have so much to say and don’t know how to say it. Other times, I have nothing to say and I still don’t know how to say it. I have not been a good blogger of late, but my fingers are itching to type and my mind is itching to expel some sort of nonsense into meaning.

It’s officially summertime. Warm, humid, buggy. The sun is shining. The air is fresh. There is so much to look forward to and so much that frightens me, but it’s all exciting in its own right. In time, maybe that last statement will make sense.

On my run today, my legs were aching. I’ve felt a little uninspired by my workouts lately, which I fixed with an updated exercise plan that I’m excited to use, but today it was soreness plain and simple. It was hot, but not in an uncomfortable way and things started out well enough. I knew it was going to be a struggle when my legs were shot running downhill. I allowed myself to walk when I needed and to run when I could. I completed five miles overall, probably 70-30 running-walking and I felt my strongest near the end. Had the pain been unbearable or damaging, I would have stopped, but I think it was more that I needed to stretch out my legs. I started my workout with some Yoga and core action and the first day of my squat challenge, which shouldn’t have left me so sore.

When I got home, I fixed myself a salad with leftover chicken and the rest of the macaroni and cheese on the side, while I played another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I am seriously obsessed. It got to the point where I needed a shower desperately and once I finished, I planned to hole myself up in my air conditioned room to do some writing, particularly a special speech I will be making very soon. Too soon for comfort. This speech happens to be the one I’ll be making at my sister and her fiancee’s wedding and because it is one of the most important things I’ll write/say, it’s proving to be difficult. When you try too hard to be poignant and poetic, it’s turns out cliche and crappy.

I’m working on it.

I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic of late in a lot of ways. Before I opened up this document, I found a binder of all of these pictures my former kindergarten students made for me and it made me miss them and sad that they are no longer a prevalent part of my life, nor am I in their’s. I mean, they are going to be third graders, which just seems impossible. Next to it, I found a binder full of old papers and stories I wrote in college and my senior year of high school. I don’t miss high school so much and as much as I loved college, I was definitely ready to be done when I graduated, but it’s that realization that those times existed and you can never return to them. Everything is always romanticized once it’s in the past, but there has to be some merit to that feeling.

I know I need to make more of an effort to blog. Despite my best efforts, I am a creature of habit, and I feel like these past few weeks have been passing in a bit of a fog. I’m not so much in a funk as I’m feeling overwhelmed and things like blogging fall to the wayside. I also have felt uninspired by posting just what I’ve been eating and what exercises I’ve been doing and so I stopped. We live in a world where it’s too easy to share your opinion, but difficult to find the best words to express it.

I guess the best way to describe my mantra of these next few weeks/months/lifetime, is not to forget that while you’re living your life, appreciate the things that are currently happening. I find myself clinging onto the past and thinking about the future. I don’t want to be blurred.

Tomorrow is a new day, but I still have today to claim. <Poetic and poignant or cliche and crappy?>

The Oscars!

I’m embarrassed. My parents have seen more than twice as many Oscar nominated films than I have this year. I guess they are just film conrnessouirs now. I was sadly lacking in that department due to a lack of effort, but there’s always time to catch up.

Maybe I’m getting older with more responsibilities, or maybe no one is nominated who I really care about, but while I enjoyed watching the part of the Oscars that I bothered to stay up for, I couldn’t make it the whole thing. I didn’t even try. Neil Patrick Harris was of course, fabulous, and I loved his opening number. I prefer a longer monologue, but there’s only so much time. Why did they start at 8:30?

On Sundays, I like to be productive, getting as many lunches and breakfasts prepared for the week, getting in my workout, doing laundry, and painting my nails. The snow and the work we have to do to clean up after it, delays this. We must be as flexible as possible. I’m learning not to let these small things stress me out as much as they normally do. What a process.

Speaking of meals, for breakfast, we wanted to mix things up a little with our poached eggs. We sautéed some spinach and boiled some hollandaise sauce. You can’t see the spinach in the picture, but I assure you, it was there. Poached eggs are so tasty on their own, but sometimes a little change up can be just as good, if not better. A large bowl of fruit topped off the meal.

photo 1Anticipating a bigger dinner, after my workout, I came home to enjoy a quick snack. I went for a cheesestick, a couple of crackers, carrots, and an apple. It hit the spot and helped me refuel until dinner.

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Dinner was a bit of a family affair with my sister, Lauren, and her fiancée Nick over. We had roasted chicken, brussels sprouts, squash, peppers, stuffing, and potatoes. The meal itself was divine, but for dessert, we had apple crumble and a generous scoop of ice cream.

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For my workout, I kicked things off with a body strength workout that left me more than warmed up. Starting with step ups, I ran through a circuit of dips, squats, lunges, kickbacks, calf raises, push ups, spiderman climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, bicycle crunches, ankle grabs, crunches, hundreds, and Russian twists. After, I hit the treadmill for a long run. I got through 3.1 and would have liked to go on longer, except my foot was falling asleep. I tried to trek through it for as long as possible, but after that initial run, I gave it a breather and walked for five minutes. I was able to run for another seven minutes after, then finished up with another five minutes walk. It was a great workout that left me sweaty in the grossest, best way possible.

Attack of the Sleep Monster and What To Do For Lent (if that’s your kind of thing)

There is little worse than nights when you cannot sleep. I went to bed around 9:30 openly yawning and didn’t fall asleep well past midnight. It was one of those sleeps when you feel like you didn’t sleep at all, even though you probably did at some point. I fixed my alarm to skip the early morning workout because due to my lack of sleep, I was certain it wasn’t going to happen. Ended up I wasn’t sleeping well in the morning anyways and my alarm was an unwelcome sound blasting in my ears.

Sometimes this happens, drink coffee or tea, eat balanced meals, and suck it up.

I started my day still drowsy by mixing half a cup of milk with half a cup of water and boiling it for my oats. I tossed in some mashed banana, peanut butter, strawberries, blueberries, and cinnamon and mixed it all around until it was this delightful mixture. A nice warm bowl for another cold, snowy day.

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Lunch was a salad and soup kind of day. I chopped up some carrots, celery, peppers, and beets and threw it on top of a bed of baby spinach with a little feta, leftover pulled chicken, and Italian dressing. The soup was from Panera- which they sell in the grocery store- and it was mostly corn and black beans (supposedly chicken tortilla) but it was still pretty good.

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Dinner for the evening were steak tips, potatoes, cauliflower, peppers, and squash. Quite an arrangement of flavors and colors! Can you tell I’m obsessed with barbecue sauce lately, especially with steak? So good!

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One of my favorite yogurt combinations- I eat a Greek yogurt almost every afternoon- is an odd one. For awhile, I was going with the pomegranate seeds because they are so juicy and pair well with plain yogurt. Then I was being slightly lazy and running with the pre-flavored varieties. I took one look at the sugar content on those bad boys and knew it couldn’t be an every day occurrence. Now, I’m spooning in a handful of grapes- I prefer the black ones for their sweetness- and sometimes even a little teaspoon of chocolate chips. The grape-chocolate combination sounds like an odd one, but it’s really tasty!

Since it’s that time of year, I’ve been considering what I should give up for Lent. Sometimes, I’ll try to do more good things, which I’m definitely still considering, but I need to learn a new habit: staying away from the candy jars at work. This shouldn’t be so hard, but when you put something sweet in front of me and it’s 3:00 in the afternoon, I’m going to mindlessly dig into it. My hope is that by “giving it up for Lent,” I’ll learn NOT eating candy as a new habit. The other thing I need to do more of is standing while I work because sitting all day is going to detract from all those healthy benefits I gain from my morning workouts.

More suggestions for a healthy Lent? Giving up any kind of sweets or salty snacks is usually a good go-to. I wouldn’t give up all kinds though, maybe pick one or two, so that you’re mindful of what you’re eating, when, and why. Many times- I know I’m guilty of it- I’ll indulge without even taking enjoyment in it. In the end, it’s just more useless instant gratification without actual satisfaction. Another goal I’ll be working on in my life in general is doing things with intention. It sounds so much easier than it is! I’ve got a wedding to get ready for though as MOH and these pants are feeling a little tighter from the winter month and treats.

More good options are to start that regular workout routine. Dedicate time 4-5 days a week and go for 30-60 minutes every day. Exercise is my main source of stress release, but it took me awhile to get to that place. I mentioned the Elliptical machine that now RIP as my starting point. Find something, take your time, and get moving. It is so good for you and the benefits are so high!

Drink more water, less or no soda. Four years ago-AH!- when I was a junior in college, right before the moment that would kick me off on this weight loss journey, I was obsessed with soda. It was so easy to drink it every day, especially in a college cafeteria. I tried to give it up for Lent, knowing it was not a good habit, but it wasn’t an easy one to kick. I couldn’t do it then. My will was not strong, especially when I started having dreams about it. A year later and well into my weight loss journey, I decided to try it again. I haven’t made a regular habit of it since and I don’t miss it. Sure, I had my moments where I thought-NEED- but I overcame them, turned to fruity water (the natural kind with chopped lemons, limes, strawberries, etc) instead. So much of me changed just from this one little act. My taste for natural foods, like fruits and veggies, increased exponentially. My skin was clearer, I felt more energized, and less greasy. Keep in mind, I had a DIET soda habit, not regular. Both are pretty bad for you. Occasionally, especially if mixed with alcohol, i.e. Fresca with sangria, I’ll pour a little soda, but my taste for it has diminished.

Lent is another one of those times- if you choose- that help people focus on their habits and make changes. That doesn’t mean it’s the only time, but life is busy and we don’t always stop and realize what we’re doing until more of these days come to pass, i.e. New Years. Don’t see this “sacrifice” or choice as a negative thing, but as another notch in striving towards healthier, happier living.

If you’ve given something up for Lent before, then you’ll remember the feeling of Easter morning (or if you’re like my mom and aunts, Good Friday evening), and finally indulging in that tasty treat you’ve given up. You put so much care and appreciation into each bite, savoring all the tastes and morsels so mindfully. That’s how we should be eating every single thing that we eat. I’m not good at this, but I’m aware of it, and I’m ready to tackle it as my next challenge.

Mindfulness is a gift, but it’s also a skill that has to be practiced and honed. Care to join me?