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.

IMG_1927.JPG

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.

IMG_8318.JPG

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.

IMG_8363.JPG

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.

IMG_4199.JPG

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!

IMG_7487.JPG

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.

IMG_9688.JPG

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?

Workouts of Late

This week, I am down 1.8 pounds.

I’ve collected quite a few sweaty selfies of late thanks to my fitness Instagram- Stronger with Caitlin. Here’s a few of them, along with what I’ve been doing for my workouts lately.

Lots of running.

562A03E2-46EC-47FC-BE87-0D2F3DD8E1BB.JPG

Summer into fall is my absolute favorite time to run and I always pick up my pace and length once the weather cools down just a bit. Of course, I try to run outside in the winter, but it’s never for as long. I also detest the treadmill and cannot go for miles unless I’m somehow in a trance-like state.

541A09FC-7AE9-4282-854B-78992DD837E0.JPG

I’m excited to see how fast and far I can go now that I’m dropping a few extra pounds. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, ranging from True Crime to Disney World themed, during my workouts, although I’ll always return to my favorite playlists and upbeat musicals when I just want to cruise.

F5AAD161-D665-4123-BD43-0BD4818F916E.JPG

I’ve also been a sweaty mess during my strength training workouts, which I do three times a week. I try to add 15-20 minutes of faster cardio to the end or throughout. My cardio of choice on these days has been jump roping. It’s such a great workout that you don’t have to suffer through for an extended amount of time. I like to do a set of jumps 50-100 after each set of exercises to get the heart rate UP.

DC10B54D-A450-4005-B10D-D928F3D6E903.JPG

In conclusion, I aim for six days a week of challenging workouts. 3 running days and 3 strength training days. Thus far, I’ve been enjoying the results.

Stay-tuned for the fall when I’ll be mixing things up!

The “Cheat Meal”

Another week, another 2 pounds down. Feeling strong!

One thing to keep in mind about Weight Watchers or healthy eating in general, is that it’s not so much a temporary fix. I know people like quick fixes to lose weight fast, but sustainable weight loss requires a lifetime of choices.

This weekend, I went to the beach with family and had an indulgent meal followed by an ice cream. I don’t eat that way every day, but once a week makes a big difference in my perspective.

Eating real food with few fake or shady ingredients is important, but if you enjoy something, it should never be off limits. You just have to learn how to eat them in moderation. Easier said then done, but do something long enough, it does become habit.

Just like I need a rest day once a week, I also need a meal or two where I’m not counting calories or points, or wondering the ratio between carbs, proteins, and fats. Sometimes that meal turns into a week of meals, but know it’s never too late to return to healthier ways. Being super restrictive leads to resentment, which blocks success.

I don’t know if we should label anything the “cheat meal” because ice cream for me is just as important to my diet as baby spinach. I eat a lot more baby spinach per week, but it keeps me determined and successful. Referring to something as cheating provides further negative connotation to food, which our society does not need. We need to stop shaming people based on their habits, but try to promote better habits. Eating, for me at least, is an enjoyable part of life, whether it’s breakfast in the middle of a hectic morning or Thanksgiving dinner. I enjoy it now more than I did when I was obese and eating a lot more. Part of that is I’ve come to like cooking, but another part of it is coming to accept the fact that we need food to live.

I’m not a proponent of many diets, fasts, or cleanses (although different things work for different people). Learning to eat real food most of the time just has better lasting effects and makes you feel better inside, which is most important.

Keep being you!

Guest Post: Cait

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know I like to refer to myself as a runner, but my friend Cait is an actual, competitive, marathon runner. She inspires me to hit the pavement and keep going, even when my body disagrees and was kind enough to answer some questions about running and her passion for fitness with us.

Thanks, Cait!

17992112_1499284663415083_1105353961891144232_n

Can you give us some background as to why and how you started running?

When I was about 5 years old I started running the Town day road races with my family.  Soon after that it became a hobby that me and my dad did together.  We would do weekend runs together and Christmas morning was always a fun run.  Next I started my first team in elementary school, and the rest is history.

Why running?
Running is the easiest way to get a quick workout in and you only sneakers and an outfit, and if you need a watch.  Other than that its simple, you just go out your door and explore.
How do you prepare for runs? Whether it’s race day or just a casual jaunt?
Race day and a casual run are completely different preparations for me.  A causal run I just get dressed and go out my door. But a race preparation starts really when the entire training starts, hydration, nutrition and sleep. Typical day of prep would include a bagel with cream cheese a coffee and apple juice, and depending time 2 hours before I run I would have a power bar and some water. I additionally 1 hour before race time will start to stretch and warm up.
What have been your greatest achievements with running?
My greatest achievement would be finishing the Boston marathon, or should I say swimming! (A/N: It was pouring the day of the marathon this year!)
30706411_3200498571345_4771413726156816384_n
What was running the marathon like, both physically and mentally?
Besides training your body to run for 4 hours, the hardest part was getting over the fact that you are in pain and you are tired.  If running a marathon was easy, everybody would do it.  It takes mental and physical strength that will push you past your limits, and you truly find out what your body is capable of.
Are there any negatives or downsides to running you’ve felt over the years?
I ran competitively for 12 years so there are deff some negatives.  Injury’s will pop up but you can bounce back, the biggest challenge i have faced would have to be the mental burn out. Over training is a common you can experience mental fatigue.
How was it being a collegiate athlete?
Being a collegiate is something I am so happy I was able to do.  I loved being able to compete and miss being able to toe the line and feel the adrenaline pumping.  I wish I could do it all over again.
How have you made the transition from collegiate athlete to casual runner (if you can call it that)?
Transitioning from a collegiate runner to a casual runner was a weird experience.  I didn’t know when to start running again after my break and so I ended up just starting to sign up for 5K’s and half marathons and then some how I got a number and ran the Boston Marathon.
31543804_1896922173651328_4843687198135943168_n
Any suggestions and advice to offer those who are looking to get into or improve their running?
One thing I would say is to be proud of yourself for getting out there, it is an amazing feeling when you suddenly feel yourself getting better. It is also a great stress reliever so that is a plus.

Love Letter to Exercise

It was the summer before my senior year of college and I had no idea what to pursue in my professional life, but I knew I did not want to present myself to the world in my current condition. I was obese, self-conscious, and overwhelmed. Rather than sink further into this black hole, I decided to pull myself out of it.

313349_2351925314753_543759177_n

After work, every afternoon, I put in 15 minutes on the clunky elliptical we had in the basement. I blasted music and endured it. As the days and weeks passed, I started putting on episodes of favorite shows, like Friends and Golden Girls, and worked until the end. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I enjoyed the effort, the slick sweat and short of breath feelings grew addictive.

I could go for an hour, playing with speeds and intensities. I was losing weight and I felt good about myself for the first time ever. I was in complete control, pushing my body to limits I thought I would forever detest. My body craved more. After my elliptical session, I would do sets of jumping jacks and started lifting the light weights we had lounging around. By the end of the summer, I was more determined than I had ever been in my life and I knew I would keep going once I was back in school.

406508_10150581454176962_969397896_n.jpg

At my college, there were two gyms- one in the main building of campus and the other in the basement of a dorm. I loved both, they became safe spaces of comfort. Lifting weights awakened my body in new ways. I’d feel sore the next day, but it was a result of achievement rather than a painful deterrent. I had no knowledge about how to lift weights, no idea what exercise worked what muscle group, I just tried what I saw other people in the gym doing, or what I read about online.

In these days, I racked up one-two hours every day at the gym. It’s not what I recommend for everyone, nor something that is doable for busy people, but it was my saving grace. Gone was the anxious girl who ate her emotions. I found my strength.

557100_10150607549836356_1464453762_n.jpg

February of that year, I decided to tackle the treadmill. Growing up, I loved playing sports, but I hated to run. I started at 30 minutes, walking for 4 minutes and running for 1 minute in 5 minute increments. By Red Sox opening day that year, I took my runs to the outdoor track down the street and was running 3-4 miles at a time. I was a runner- and that is not something I offer lightly. To this day, I am not quick or smooth or a model of running perfection by any means, but I can run for miles and I will never forget what that means to the girl in the summer of 2011.

By graduation, approximately one year later, I was 100 pounds down, exercising six days a week and maintaining much healthier (and happier) eating habits. I was sad to be leaving school, but I was excited to see what the future held. That is not to say that I didn’t struggle after. I’m still confused as to what to do in my professional life in many ways, but that is the product of living.

74723_1588139023364_1061223921_n

But this journey that I continue on, allowed me to be okay with putting myself out into the world, to experience and experiment. I tried several different jobs and trusted my instincts enough to walk away from something that wasn’t right for me. I studied to become a personal trainer and help others who struggle like me or just need a little guidance and push. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams and listened to my heart when I knew it was time to come home to my family.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect. I eat too much, I have a lazy exercise day or choose to gasp- take two days off from the gym sometimes- but mostly, I’ve maintained these healthy habits. Eating is a large part of losing weight and maintaining a healthy life, but exercise was my gateway. Without it, I would not have the strength to endure, two of my favorite words.

996628_10201403247780335_1398391979_n

Exercise is my time. No matter what, I will always have that hour in my day that I take for myself. It doesn’t have to be a full hour, it doesn’t have to be a perfect mixture of cardio and strength training, and it doesn’t always have to be crushing and exhausting.

Embrace the messiness of fitness- the sweat, the confusion, the pain, the results. It does wondrous things for the body, physically and mentally.

28685604_3169755162779_244208908933202120_n

Daily Things

I thought I’d give a- probably mundane- rundown of my daily routine. Three days a week, I open up at the gym, so my alarm clock blares at 4:35am. When it’s being unkind, I’ll roll over and see I only have three minutes left to sleep. There is no kind when you have to wake up before 5am, although I have gotten used to it to an extent.

On these days, I get ready very quickly, really just feeding Simba and throwing my breakfast together. I typically work until 1pm and fit in my own workout. If I time my coffee and snacks appropriately, and slept well the night before, I will be motivated to complete an intense workout. If none of the aforementioned happens, then I will go through the motions. Most days, I’m awake enough to put myself through a tough workout, even though my first thought in the morning is I will definitely nap. (I never nap).

IMG_4545

My workouts on MWF are strength training based, sometimes total body, other days split by muscle group- functional and heavy lifting depending on my mood. This part, core included, will take 45-50 minutes. After, I fit in 15-25 minutes of cardio- cycling, arc trainer, and/or jump roping with intervals included.

477326D2-8083-4F5C-9CA3-AAA3F8C86053

Once I leave, it’s lunch time! I try to stick to lean proteins and veggie-heavy dishes, including salads and stir fries, but other times, I’ll have leftovers. Being back on Weight Watchers means my lunches main source of carbs are veggies and fruits.

Before I shower, I spend some quality time with Simba. He’s still only one and loves being chased, so I try to do this as often as possible. The dude loves his friskies, so he can use the exercise too. Although, half the time when I run at him, he throws himself down and demands pats.

He demands pats most of the day and will follow me around, but when I settle down at my computer for writing time, he does settle down to sit in front of the window or under my desk. Right now, he’s actually yelling at me for attention.

IMG_3281

The rest of the night is spent meal prepping, reading, and watching TV or the Red Sox. Of course, Fridays are a little different.

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I get to sleep in a little longer. I never thought a 6:45am wake-up time would be indulging in sleep. These mornings, I hop out of bed, chug water, and hit the pavement for a run. Sometimes I’ll run straight through for about 3 miles, other times I’ll alternate between running and walking. I get to have a nice, leisurely breakfast before heading to work.

IMG_4556

On Tuesdays, I’m done early, so I follow a similar routine to Mondays and Wednesdays. I work a split shift on Thursdays, so in-between, I’ll meal prep, play with Simba, and write.

For Saturday and Sunday, I choose one day to run and the other to rest, depending on my schedule.

What’s your daily routine look like?

Compound Exercises- Efficient & Effective

We’re back with another edition of Workout Wednesday!

Today, I want to discuss compound movements and the benefits of lifting heavy weights.

Compound movements work two or more major muscle groups at the same time, essentially meaning, getting more for your buck. Everyone wants their workout to be efficient and effective, so selecting moves to make optimal progress is vital.

Thanks to my friend Eva for the pics!

  1. Thrusters [quads & shoulders]- with the barbell (or dumbbells) in front, squat down and do an overhead press as you come back to standing
  1. Stiff-Leg Deadlifts [hamstrings & back]- with the barbell (or any piece of equipment really), thrust out your butt and hips and lower your upper body parallel to the ground, keeping a slight bend in your knees
  1. KB Swings [all over]- with the kettle bell, stand about shoulder-length about, bend your knees and snap up your hips to swing the kettle bell just above shoulder level
  1. Push-ups [chest, shoulders, triceps, core]- against the wall, on your knees, or in the full position, keep your neck stable as you lean down and bend your arms at a slight angle
  1. Box Jumps [quads, hamstrings, and glutes]- with added elevation or not, bend your knees and drive up and forward and as you land on the platform, squat down for a quiet and steady landing
  1. Hanging Leg Raises [all over core]- hanging from the bar or using the captain’s chair, bring your knees to your chest

In six moves, you get a solid total body workout. Try out these exercises completing 4 sets of 8 reps at a heavy, but manageable weight.

Finish with a round of HIIT cardio, such as jump roping- my current favorite- or sprints on the bike.