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?

Living Well

When I’m feeling overwhelmed and a little lost, I tend to eat too much. Not eating comes when I’m super stressed, which I’m happy to not be enduring, but the other side of it isn’t healthy either.

It’s easy to use the excuse that we’re in the holiday season and bad eating choices are all around us. I’ve been eating mindlessly, which leads to danger. When I first arrived in LA, I was on point with eating and exercising and had lost a few pounds, something I could tell from my loose fitting clothes. These past few weeks have proved difficult and my waistline is feeling it. I know it hasn’t been anything too crazy, but a constant pushing it off ’til tomorrow only lends itself to poor and unhealthy habits.

Exercise is my strong suit. As a personal trainer, I love formatting and executing a new workout that I know will crush me and push my body to new heights. That sounds terrifying to put it like that, actually, but I mean it in the best way possible. I love sweating during and after a solid workout. To me, there are few greater daily accomplishments.

I did take most of the week off with Thanksgiving and all that traveling, but I got back into it on Sunday with a killer workout. I worked through three sets of twelve reps. First circuit was tricep dips, jumping lunges, and front raises. Second included burpees (death), push-ups (more death), and high knees (not so deathly). My third circuit took me through resistance band bicep curls, a plie squat to step ups, and supermans. I finished with a core circuit of pike rolls, side plank twist dips, and cable ab presses. For cardio, I did 18 minutes on the spin bike and left the gym a bundle of sweat. Since it was nice out, but windy and cold, I ran a mile outside. It’s been awhile since I’ve run outside and run a straight up mile for that matter- I’ve been working on intervals more to stave off treadmill boredom- and I felt more tired than usual, but still strong.

Strength is an emotional and physical attribute that constantly needs to be developed and honed. It’s ever-changing depending on circumstances. Find it, use it, and whether you succeed or fail, learn from it. Thankfully, I have a constant reminder of how far I’ve come and how far I have to go.

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Most of the time, I don’t think twice about my post-work workouts because it’s just part of my routine. It feels good to end the day that way, although my running suffers a bit. My Monday night workout was another total body knockout. All circuits again, I started with some barbell work. In sequence, I performed a row, clean, front squat, to shoulder presses. The second circuit incorporated dumbbell chest presses, skull crushers, and alternating hammer curls. Next up, I went through kettle bell swings, split squats, and kickback deadlifts. Each circuit was 5 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight. To top things off, my core circuit included v ups, rollouts, and medicine ball twists at 3 sets of 20 reps. Cardio was HIIT cycling with another mile on the treadmill.

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I’m amping up my routine and reeling in my eating habits. It will help that I am blogging regularly again because I have to share what I’m eating with you.

Monday’s breakfast was a warm homemade waffle and fruit.

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For a snack, I spread a scoop of peanut butter over a slice of whole wheat toast.

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Lunch will be the same throughout the week: quinoa, chickpeas, zucchini, red pepper, carrots, and soyaki.

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My pre workout snack was a cheesestick and a handful of wheat thins.

Soyaki drizzled salmon, spinach rice, broccoli, and more soyaki was on the menu for dinner. I’m getting decent at cooking salmon, but I think the soyaki helps a ton.

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Mindfulness can be hard, while reaching for a bite of this and handful of that is easy and instantly satisfying. Longterm, leading a healthy lifestyle and feeling good and strong in your body and mind is more important and satisfying. Eating will always be somewhat of a challenge for me, be it ingrained habits or unlucky genes, but I refuse to see such a natural component of life as a negative. Yes, I will enjoy the holidays and every day life, just as much as I will eat mindfully and healthfully, but as the saying goes, “it’s all in moderation.” Moderation takes practice, as do all the good things in life.

Live well!

Pumpkin French Toast!

I promised pumpkin spice French toast was in your future. I delivered.

While grocery shopping on Sunday, I discovered stocked shelves of cans of pumpkin. We’re mid-way thru September and it was chilly yesterday, I think it’s time we embraced the pumpkin!

First step was to heat the pan. This “special” pan is meant for paninis, but it makes awesome French toast. I gathered all of my ingredients into a pretty picture for your eyes only.

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Into the bowl went an egg- the yolk adds nice texture and ties everything together- a quarter cup of almond milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a dash of vanilla, and a quarter cup of pumpkin- it’s a vegetable! All swirled together, we get this autumn-inspired, colorful concoction.

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The spoon promptly fell victim to the mixture and I had to fish it out. Even if I make things look slick and smooth, I promise it’s not. And 9 out of 10 times, I will share this with you. Silly = better blogging.

I dipped my bread of choice- whole wheat sour dough- into the mixture, pressing it down and absorbing the goodness. Here they are after grilled up on one side.

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Notice the batter clinging to the side. My flipping skills need some work.

While the toast grilled, I took to chopping up some fresh fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, and banana add a nice patriotic touch. Just call me international, what with French toast and an American fruit salad. Okay, that’s a stretch.

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So pretty! Except, when topped with peanut butter and jelly, it grows even prettier. I mean delicious. Food can’t be pretty, silly! Well, actually, yes it can.

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Some might say I have too much time on my hands to do this. I’m just doing a service for you.

Pumpkin French Toast:

This recipe serves one, but can be easily adapted to feed your brood.

Ingredients: egg, milk of choice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, pumpkin, bread

  1. Pre-heat pan on stove-top
  2. Crack 1 egg into large bowl
  3. Pour 1/4 cup of milk
  4. Sprinkle generous amount of cinnamon
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  6. Scoop 1/4 cup of pumpkin
  7. Combine ingredients
  8. Soak bread
  9. Grill bread
  10. Top with goodness
  11. Eat!

I’m not one to usually type up recipe cards such as shown above. It doesn’t include much detail, but the French toast doesn’t take much work. It may look and taste fancy and gourmet, but the prep is null and it really is a nutritious twist on a classic. Enjoy!

I’ve Got That Boom Boom and That Sass

When you read my title of this post, please do so to the tempo of Britney Jean Spears’ “I’ve Got That Boom Boom.” It’s relevant to a piece of this post.

Who’s the dumb-dumb who got burned in all the wrong places? That would be me. I actually put on sunscreen this time too, but it was the spray kind and I slathered it on the beach, which means it went flying everywhere except for my body. Now I’m left with weird and painful stripes of red.

Note: Ibuprofin works like a beast. My favorite thing ever created.

With all my recapping and busy time, I haven’t had a chance to talk about exercise in awhile. Things were a little murky even before vacation because I came down with the sniffles, if you’ll recall. Once they cleared, I attempted a workout, but had to take it easy because I was still feeling weaker than usual.

Vacation happened and even though there was a lot of walking, I didn’t do anything exercisey except for that magnificent hike that left my thighs burning for days after. I’m sure it also had to do with my sitting on a plane for five and a half hours.

I got back into the flow of things on Friday with a strength and plyometric workout. On Saturday, I fit in some Yoga and a walk/run that felt a little sore, but good to move. I’ve been trying to do more Yoga, even if it’s just for 20-30 minutes and on my own.

Since I had to work in the morning on Sunday then head up to the Cape for a day after, I woke up super special early to fit in a morning workout that consisted of strength training. It felt good to be up and moving early again, though not enough to do it on a consistent basis when I don’t have to. So long as I fit in exercise at all!

On Monday, I was able to get myself up again because I wanted to try out a Yoga class they offer on the beach! I think I romanticized the idea too much in my head because even though being outside and by the water was spectacular, walking in the sand is hard enough. Trying to do all the poses definitely challenged me. I also would have liked to have done it a little earlier in the morning so that the sun wasn’t quite at full blast. Regardless, it was an amazing experience!

I’ve been wanting to mix things up a little bit with exercise, so on Tuesday after work, I decided to try a kickboxing class. It went by a different name on the schedule, so I didn’t even know it was kickboxing until I got there. I think watching Buffy inspired me to act a little kick-ass and I had a blast. My punching and kicking skills could use a ton of improvement, however, but at least I still have my sass to back me up.

The workout was great, but it didn’t put me through the ringer like I enjoy in my exercise, so after, I went upstairs to fit in a kettlebell strength workout. At the end, I did a quick core circuit that included dual moves like mountain climbing push-ups and sit up Russian twists. They were grueling, but awesome!

Tonight, I knew I wanted to fit in a run and some more Yoga, but with the humidity levels going crazy outside, I decided to take it into the treadmill. It’s not my favorite to do, but I got a good rhythm going with my new playlist and fit in a half hour run that left me nice and sweaty before I dropped into Yoga class. I always forget how much I like Yoga until I do it, but it’s one of those things that I will let slide in order to fit in more intense workouts in a shorter amount of time. I’m working on it!

Even though everything has been amazing, positive experiences, this summer has felt a little off when it comes to routine. I left my job and started a new one- which by the way, I am loving- then went on vacation before I felt settled. It’s always surreal to make changes and I am not complaining, but I haven’t felt as productive in other regards of my life, like studying and writing.

We’re back on track as they say and I am hoping to get going on a few new ideas I have regarding the blog. Keep checking in!

What got your heart pumping this week?

A Review of…January…Kind Of?

Are we supposed to start a month by our first words being, “Rabbit, rabbit,” or something? I’ve heard that somewhere, so if you’re superstitious, I hope you remembered to say it…

I’ve been bad and haven’t finished a book in a few weeks. I’ve mentioned before how I go through phases. When I do read, it’s the only thing that I can do, but when I’m not in that mode, I get distracted. There simply does not seem to be enough hours in the day sometimes when it comes to extracurricular activities. I’ve been trying to focus much of my attention and energy on writing, which has been better in the past few weeks, but I am feeling the itch of getting lost in a good book.

My problem is that by the end of a long work day, I’m tired and don’t have much energy to expend on things in which I have to focus. Starting my day at 5:00 AM always makes me feel energized and able to take on the day, but it cuts down on the hours I have at night because I need my sleep.

My problem is that I am a giant procrastinator when it comes to doing things other than browsing the Internet or sitting in front of the television. It’s jut so easy! In some ways, I am diligent and disciplined, especially for my workout routine, but I’m unfortunately not quite there yet when it comes to reading and writing. I know that in order to be successful, I have to work at it extremely hard, but the hours and the days get away from you and all of a sudden you realize you haven’t been very productive in some facets of life.

A new month always brings a new sense of hope. I’m actually not certain where January went. In some ways, it feels like Christmas and New Year were a lifetime ago, but then I wonder how it’s already February. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the snow all seems to be falling at once now after we’ve had nothing at all for so long. I mean, the day after Christmas I was running outside with my jacket around my waist!

I’m trying to reflect back on January and though I know I have a lot to be grateful for, I’m struggling to remember the specifics. The winter in general tends to do this to people. Just from the number of days in the month, I know that February is going to pass by even faster, so now is the time to pay attention to how I spend my free time.

At the very least, I’m happy to be able to say that I have kept up with my blogging! Even for this though, I feel as though I have only done the regularly scheduled posts that I typically do- Meals on Monday, Rave Review Tuesdays, and Workout Wednesdays- but I haven’t contributed any extra, fun material lately. I hope my blog hasn’t been boring, but I will try and make more of an effort to post more than those allotted topics.

For the reading, I am making my way through two interesting nonfiction books on writing, the one on screenwriting that I discussed and another on writing in general that I read a bit from college. They are pretty inspiring and enlightening, but they also say a lot of what I should already know- in order to be a good writer, you have to write.

I always had a romantic view of creative outlets, like writing, thinking that people could simply rely on pure talent to succeed. To be fair, I don’t think I can be entirely blamed for this perception based on what our culture sees as “quality” entertainment, but the more I grow up, experience, and observe, I’ve noticed how hard people have to work in order to pursue any of their passions. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

There will always be excuses not to do something, and it’s much harder to actually get yourself to do things, but that just means it will be worth that much more in the long term. The expression that the journey is far more important than the end result rings truer the more I experience in this world. No one is made by successes and failures on their own, but by the processes taken to reach them.

Now let’s see if I can put my money where my mouth is…or so they say.

Quality Writing Means Writing

I’m going through one of those phases where I haven’t been reading much lately. I’ve been trying to write more, which takes up a lot of my time at night. To be fair though, the biggest reason was because I became enamored by Veep, which I reviewed lovingly last week, and could not stop watching. It took me about four days to watch all three seasons. To be fair to myself, each episode was less than a half hour, enabling me to fly through them. It’s bittersweet because now I have to wait until April!

Even though I don’t have any finished books to review, I have been reading a book on screenwriting during a few minutes in the morning that I have between my workout and work. Paired with my screenwriting course, it’s been enlightening.

The majority of my writing experience has focused on short stories, both fiction and memoir, journalism and feature writing, and blurbs for the blog. I’ve enjoyed all of the types of writing I’ve tried, but something that intrigues me the most is dialogue.

I am obsessed with dialogue in movies and television, especially when it’s effective. When there’s good dialogue, you don’t even think about it, but when it’s bad, it makes you cringe. I may be a bit dramatic about it than other people, but dialogue makes or breaks a show.

One of the reasons why I think stations like HBO or Netflix are so successful is because they have no limitations on their dialogue or scenes. They are allowed to talk like real people would and don’t have to throw in fillers when sometimes swears just fit perfectly into a situation.

That’s not to say that network tv can’t have clever dialogue, they just have to be that much more cleverer and find a way around this absence.

Since I’ve started the class, I’ve found my creative spirit has liberated. I have all of these ideas I’ve been writing down and journaling and it makes me so excited to read more about screenwriting and to sit down and write!

I’m embarrassed to admit that it can sometimes be difficult for me to read nonfiction books because I find fiction to be that much more interesting, both in terms of reading and watching. If I sit down and force myself to get going, I often end up really enjoying and learning quite a bit. It’s just that, for me, I prefer to get lost in the imagination of the writer. Clearly, both have their benefits and I do try to read more nonfiction.

This book is a great resource to have, but in the end, I just have to settle down and write, write, write!