Fighting through AWKWARD

Whether it is going back to school,  a new eating program, starting new job, getting to know new friends, quitting a bad habit, moving on after a death of a loved one, being a parent for the first time, first dates, etc. … beginnings are almost always AWKWARD. What do we normally do to get through that initial awkwardness? We find some normalcy and push through until what is awkward becomes normal. Or in some cases the awkwardness isn’t worth the effort (i.e. bad dates or making new friends) and we place it in that NOT WORTH IT folder in our mental filing cabinet.

Very little is different when it comes to working out. We pick an exercise that sounds easy enough, attempt it, and a majority of us quit at the point of discomfort. I am totally in this boat. I have tried almost every sport and failed miserably because I just wasn’t good at it. The only reason I was part of a “sport” in college wasn’t due to any athletic ability but more so my enormous smile, positive attitude, and obnoxiously loud voice ( plus lots and LOTS of practice trying to gain the minimal skill requirements.) The only sports I have found a comfort level in are sports with no equipment necessary ( cheerleading, then running and swimming as an adult) Maybe had I pushed a little further through the uncomfortable as a kid then I could have gone much greater distances. But no, taking the easy route was… well… easier.

How many people take 1 Zumba class, go into the weight room at the gym 1 time, try a workout dvd once, run for 1 minute, last through 1 spin class, only to give up and never try again? I know that I am 100% guilty of this in many fitness categories. Bicycling. I hate it. I am so uncomfortable going on a 20 minute bike ride I want to throw up. Sports with balls ( go ahead,  free rein for jokes)  all intimidate me  due to my serious lack of coordination and grace. To this day almost every run I take begins with about two miles of awkward steps and arm movements until the rhythm takes over and pounding the pavement to a perfect mix of  Metallica/Lady Gaga/ Andrew W.K./3Oh!3/Black Eyed Peas makes me feel like a well oiled machine .  What does it take to push through the uncomfortable and find a place of  comfort? It takes patience. It takes determination. It takes commitment.

Not everyone has a need or want to live a fit lifestyle. Or I should say, not everyone will ADMIT that they need or want to live a fit lifestyle. But pushing through the uncomfortable carries a self-confidence that can not be found elsewhere.

It doesn’t matter if it is  a workout routine you are trying to get used to. It could be anything that is new and unusual. Pushing through that initial awkwardness will only open a door to new heights. It will create new experiences and a greater outlook on life. If you are one of those amazing people who always pushes for the best, than you deserve every ounce of happiness!

Backing away and giving up is always easy, but the easy road hardly ever leads to anywhere fulfilling.

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Healthy demographics

Forgive me for the time between posts. To say it’s been crazy is an understatement. With my husband gone for 21 days with no contact , a teething baby, flying to Arizona, and driving the dogs and baby to North Carolina and Florida… It’s been impossible to breath let alone write. I think in 3 weeks I’ve ran 4 times , hence why I may seem a bit moody .

Since a recent convo with M a certain topic has been running through my mind ( no pun intended .) Why is it that some towns are filled with runners on any given morning, and some appear as a ghost town . Some areas, like Charlotte for instance, is breathing health on every block. You can find health food stores , running stores, local gyms, beautiful parks with running paths, weekend races , etc everywhere you look… It’s amazing! Then there are places( I’m not going to throw any cities under the bus here) that are filled with fried chicken on every block and devoid of anything fitness related.

So here is the point I’m trying to make, and there is one. What do demographics have in common with the level of healthy people in a given area? After asking M why she thought Charlotte was such an active town she found it simple . Educated people are more likely to run and live healthy lifestyles ! Really? Why? At first thought it made no sense to me. It doesn’t cost a dime to go outside and run. Is it that wealthier people care more about their appearance? Maybe but a better and more thought out explanation would be that people that have struggled through higher levels of education understand the importance of stress relief. Those who hold successful occupations strived through college or other long-term training and carried that work ethic into their careers ( for the most part, of course there are exceptions) The healthiest form of stress relief is exercise and many people in the professional communities understand this. Ah ha… A somewhat decent answer .

But how can this ever change? How can lower and middle class neighborhoods learn the secret stress reliever of healthy living ? It’s a circular battle that seems impossible to solve , like the cycle of poverty.

Wow what a ramble session that I am ,for some unknown reason, publishing for all to judge . Just some food for thought , find ways to spread the joy f healthy living in all places. Just because you understand how to live actively and healthfully doesn’t mean everyone whose path you cross has the same mental toolbox that you carry around.

For those wonderful friends who have been following out blog … Well you’re crazy. But also, with more time falling into my lap again and new fitness goals to be reached, you can expect more posts to come soon. Maybe even M our newly engaged soon to be “buff bride ” will start sharing her stories as well… Or maybe I will continue sharing them for her 🙂

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Top 10 reasons to LOVE running on Fort Rucker

1. Sidewalks EVERYWHERE!

2. Beaver lake- Fun paved trail run with the hill of death that gets me EVERY time!

3. On post races every other month. It’s a great idea even though they lack creativity by reusing the same 5k and 10k LAME course every single time ! ( BTW St. Patties day race this Saturday if anyone wants to join me )

4.  The fear of Alligators makes me run JUST A LITTLE bit faster knowing that some of the lakes on post claim to be homes to my FAVORITE creatures 😐

5. Running past every building and neighborhood on post makes you feel like Dean Karnazes.

6. Nothing makes you feel like a BA than passing  US Soldiers in their PTs.

7. Seeing an Apache flying directly overhead not only sends chills down my spine, it reminds me of why we are living in beautiful lower Alabama.

8. It is hard to find places that you can run longer distances without hitting bad neighborhoods. Fort Rucker is extremely safe. Especially compared to an un-named place where M was forced to stay connected to me via iphone as I thought a hooded creeper was about to pull a gun out on me… just kidding MOM that never happened 🙂

9. The sound of Chinooks, Blackhawks, Apaches, and Kiowas have begun to blend in with Metallica, Katy Perry, Kesha,  Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Taio Cruz, Travie McCoy, 3Oh!3, and AC/DC  BEAUTIFULLY!

10. You get to see this on the side of the road and imagine the story that it has to tell.

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anti-diet

One thing that always makes me internally giggle is when people proclaim ” Oh I’m on a diet.” We get it. You think that by announcing to everyone that you have decided to go on some crazy diet that you are making a huge change in healthier living. But guess what? There is NOTHING healthy about MOST diets. The word drives me to insanity to be honest.  What happens when your 30 day, 15 day, whatever day diet is over… you eat what you think tastes good and magically all the weight re-appears. Cleaning up your eating habits, portion control, and making smarter choices will lead to a lifetime of health and most likely the better body that you were hoping for from your “diet.”

Don’t read into this incorrectly though, I in no way am a health nut. I wish that I was. I eat sweets and fattening foods, but in moderation. If I could survive off of bread alone, I would honestly do it. Nothing drove me more crazy than hearing about the Atkins diet , every time I heard about it I would shove a bite of pasta or sourdough bread into my mouth with a smile on my face.

When I talk about anti-dieting the same response is always shot to me from my peers, ” BUT YOU WERE NEVER OVERWEIGHT, YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.” I do understand. Both M and I have had plenty of times that we were well above our ideal body composition, we talk about it almost daily. Honestly, if I started eating nothing but junk and stopped working out I could easily be among the majority of americans that are severely overweight. The key to not letting yourself get to that point is changing the way you think about health. When you get to the point that your body is functioning at its best, you realize that there is no reason to go back. Why would you not want to take care of your body, the only thing that you will have until the grave? If you care enough about your family, your friends, your children, your spouse, why not care just as much about yourself?

Ok enough of my rant…

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Or better yet, WE DO?

I meet people all the time that simply don’t know where to start. I was blessed enough to grow up in a family that was pretty health conscious. Most Americans are not, and have never had the time or understanding to even change their lifestyles. Both M and I always talk about how much we wish we could help all of these people. No one is a bad person because they don’t live healthy. Neither of us EVER  judge people because they don’t live healthy lifestyles. We simply want to show others how much of a better life you can have by making such small healthy changes.

The first step is simple. Follow the food pyramid . Go to mypyramid.gov. This is a great tool that is provided by the USDA. On it you can type in your age, weight, height, and activity level to get a more exact food pyramid to your body type. It also gives you ideas of how to incorporate each category into your day without any stress. Once you get in the swing of eating healthier, it is simply a way of life that doesn’t need to be altered. Also, when you are conscious of what you put into your mouth daily it is easier to indulge every once in a while and not feel terrible about it.

What about when you are on the go? Some people travel a lot, or simply aren’t home enough to always prepare food for themselves. M and I were fortunate enough to have another wheel to our dynamic duo in college. Our other former roommate/wonderful friend is a health food freak. The intensity that we bring to fitness, she brings to eating “light” and I know that I learned a ton from her in the 3 years of college we spent living together. One website she introduced us to was dietfacts.com . Before eating on-the-go I like to check out what my options are at each restaurant. You can find healthy options that are still delicious pretty much anywhere. I must forewarn you though, finding out the nutritional info on some of your favorite meals WILL make you want to vomit.

So check out theses two sites. Hopefully they will be two small steps to a healthier and happier you 🙂

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Running shorts… already???

The only problem with this beautiful spring weather is how hot it gets on a long run. If you are one of those girls with naturally long skinny legs, well, girls like me hate you . Kidding. But honestly, nothing freaks me out more than running shorts. I personally hate them.

Over the past two weeks, I have been on a mission to find a pair of running shorts that can sustain the hot humid afternoons that have already snuck upon us in Lower Alabama. My other stipulation is that I can’t stand spending money on running gear. For a sport that is so natural to the human body, why spend so much money on clothing/gear? It’s silly to me. I am not about to spend 50$+ on running shorts, especially when you need about 4 or 5 solid pair to get through laundry days. Last but not least, they have to look decent on. Not awkward long shorts than come down to the knees, and definitely not too short ( like most out there are) where parts are showing that don’t need to be showing.

Well guess what, I FOUND THEM! I found them at Hibbett sports , purchased one pair but will be going back for more ASAP. They are made by Soffee, which instinctually makes people think “Cheer shorts” but I promise they are nothing like Soffee cheer shorts. They have a great liner on the inside, very light material, come in many colors, are only 15$ and most importantly look great on everyone! They are called the ” shorty short” by Soffee. My guess is that you could find them at Big 5, or somewhere similar. Otherwise you can always order a pair online to try them out for yourself. At 15$ , you aren’t losing too much if you aren’t as obsessed with them as I am .

here is the link to them if anyone is interested.

http://www.soffe.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=11102&storeId=10051&productId=46180&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=16257&top_category=

Ok that is all for today, just wanted to share my new obsession. Hopefully you find some excitement in them as well 🙂

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Fit Lit

Hello! It’s been a while… thanks to a cold ridden/ non napping/ teething baby ( ahh the delights of parenting a 6 month old. ) Being a luxury in itself to even squeeze in runs and Jillian Michaels workouts, unfortunately blogging has fallen to the wayside. However, over the past 2 weeks I FINALLY got around to reading Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. So here is the miniscule beginning to a long review…

I would describe this book as the best sandwich you ever ate, smushed between two boring pieces of white bread. The meat of this book is fantastic. My book is filled with sticky notes placed on every life changing quote that I feel necessary to discuss with others… which will definitely be done on the following posts.  After a slow start in the first 50 pages, he really takes off on a fascinating story of ultra runners . These people are crazy. You think Marathoners are crazy? Ultra runners race 100 mile races … repeatedly not just once in a lifetime. Not to lose weight, not to stay in shape, but because they are completely addicted to the happiness that running brings them.

Because I am obviously not a woman of few words, this is going to be an ongoing review. The first Ah-ha moment for me was his description of how ingrained running is to the human body.

Our bodies were literally built to run. What confuses people is the hip/back/knee pains that plague us after long workouts. McDougall lays it out straight, Nike did this to us. The second we start wearing supportive ‘ running’ shoes, our body becomes weak.  All of that added support and cushion is simply a crutch that makes our body move un-naturally. Nike was the first company to create a running shoe, and then every other company copied. THANKS A LOT NIKE!

I agree with this concept 110%! Nothing has felt more natural than barefoot running. Not only have I cured any former aches, pains, and bleeding toe problems… running is exciting now. The first few weeks of adjustment to Vibram 5-fingers were definitely that, an adjustment. You will have intense calf pain and find leg muscles that you never knew existed. But after the aches subside, there is no better feeling . I swear that I will never wear another running shoe again. The problem that arises is those with flat feet. Ironically, flat feet didn’t exist with our ancestors. This ailment came after we began wearing shoes. I’m not saying that if you have flat feet you CAN’T try them, but just know that getting used to the lack of arch support is challenging.

If you are looking for a change in running, or any sports for that matter. TRY BAREFOOT RUNNING. I sound like a salesperson for Vibram, but I can’t speak of them enough!

If you are looking for a great book on the history of running as well as some fitness motivation, go read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall ! Still aren’t sold on a lame book about crazy runners? I don’t blame you but I will definitely post about some key motivational points in his writing.

AHHH Springtime is beautiful 🙂 Enjoy outside workouts before the obnoxiously high temperatures of summer sneak upon us.

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Jogging stroller of death

Ok. Let’s just be honest. The jogging stroller shouldn’t even have the word JOG in it.

Right when we found out I was pregnant, practically the first words out of everyones mouth was OHH You’ll have to get a jogging stroller! My wonderful step-Mom and Nana looked around and got me a fantastic red baby-trend ( There are tons of brands out there but I love this one)  . Soon after getting back in the swing of running post babyman, I thought I would take him with me on a 2.5 mile trail run around a small lake on post. Never did I think it would be so dreadful . By the first hill, a quarter of a mile in, my legs were on fire… by the end I was slowly walking to the car with wobbly jell-o legs.

Fast forward 5 months. We have only used the stroller for trail WALKS, quick runs, or to jog to the neighbors house. It has still been a fantastic investment yet I have been terrified to attempt an actual run of any kind.

Today was the day. With my husband having longer days now in the classroom ( he is in the flight school process for the Army) it is more challenging to squeeze in daylight runs when the sun goes down at practically 4 in the afternoon here in the south. So I caved, time to give it another try.

Shockingly it was not as treacherous as I had made it out to be.

Was it a basic 3 mile run? absolutely not.

Was it challenging? 100%

What I failed to realize is that A. You don’t have your arms to help move you forward. B. You are pushing 20+ lbs of the baby plus the stroller. C. Hills are pretty deadly when you combine these factors.

If you are looking for a great total body strength training+ cardio workout this is it. Don’t have a baby? You could borrow mine if you want 🙂

Even though I waited over 5 months,  it was definitely for the best. At this age the little guy is old enough that he is entertained with the outdoors ( even though he had about 4 layers of clothing on) and he can actually enjoy the ride. Start out on flat land because the switch to hills is much MUCH different than you would expect. It really is a unique experience being able to share the joy of fitness with your little one.

<—- (This is from my view, it’s great to be able to see what he’s up to)

I would completely recommend Fit-Moms give it a shot, it doesn’t have the best rep but it is worth the challenge . Maybe my idol JM ( Jillian Michaels) could try out this workout with a 20 lb weights inside a stroller…ya never know it could be the newest fitness fad since the kettle-ball !

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Healthy Body=Healthy Mind

I’ve disappointed myself 100%.  Making this blog was going to be an outlet for all things fitness that are second nature to M and I. But lately the inspiration has been lagging…

After a week of squeezing in only 1 real run ( 2 if you count the treadmill which completely runs for you) I feel like I’ve hit the bottom of a downward spiral. The less I make time for fitness, the less focused my mind becomes. Which makes me wonder… how many people feel this way all of the time? How many women especially are so busy that they forget to be active which results in feeling like … well BLAHHH ( for lack of better vocabulary thanks to my prestigious degree in elementary education.)

It doesn’t matter if you are a stay at home mom, busy student, or workaholic… life gets busy. What tends to be the first thing dropped off of that never ending pile on our plates? Exercise and health. WHY?!? Why is it that so many of us fail to dedicate a small portion of our day to ourselves? Not our friends, not our significant other, not our parents, not our kids… but ourselves. I have become such a hypocrite in this category for the past week.

Imagine that each of us wakes up with sunshine that has tons of positive energy emitting out of us each morning. If we use up all of that positive energy trying to make others around us happy, there is nothing left for ourselves or our family.It is extremely unfair that the people who begin with the most “sunshine” end up with the smallest amount because everyone else seems to steal it.  I find that the only way to create an abundance of good energy is to do what you love. If you aren’t keeping yourself healthy in some way, both PHYSICALLY and MENTALLY, your ‘sunshine’ reserves will constantly be running on empty forcing others to waste theirs on you!

…. total other topic….I have the worst ” popcorn brain” as M likes to tell me 🙂

Somehow I placed 1st in my division ( females age 18-24) in the Dothan hog-wild 15k I ran last weekend. WHAT A SHOCK! Seeing the results were unreal. Going from a non runner a year and a half ago this was a huge accomplishment. Obviously the competition isn’t too serious in Lower Alabama, but it gave me that kick in the butt that I needed after a lazy LAZY week.

A week of anti-activity post race has left my mind in complete mush. Your Body Mind Soul connection is extremely critical to living a balanced and happy life. Just using those words makes me miss Yoga terribly. Not pretend Yoga at the Fort Rucker gym taught by bland fitness instructors. But real yoga. Bikram Yoga. Power Yoga.

Basically, to summarize my verbal vomit today, what’s on my mind lately is the need to surround ourselves with people that mirror our energy. If you have people in your life that constantly bring you down, REMOVE THEM FROM YOUR LIFE. If you know people that are constant rays of sunshine for you… SPEND MORE TIME WITH THEM! Now I need to begin taking my own advice for a change…

 

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Hello February

It’s been a while I know.  I apologize 😦

Not that things haven’t been going on, but almost that too much goes on that I don’t know where to start. SO here we are, almost in a new month.

A month filled with cheesy valentines day hearts and candy. A month filled with increasingly warmer weather than January ( hopefully).But most importantly to us, a month with the most important football game of the year … duh duh duhhhh…

For those of you that are not aware, M is a hardcore cheesehead Packer fan ( AND PROUD OF IT- as she would say.) I was raised in a family where you were only allowed to watch 1 team… the Pittsburgh Steelers.  As you could imagine, our friendship may be a bit strained this week as we are both preparing for the big game this weekend.

This week, or even month, I find myself thinking about competition. As always I hate competing against others but love competing against myself. Setting personal goals in fitness not only keeps you working towards something but it will have a greater impact mentally and physically than just ‘working out.’ It could be a major goal like competing in the Ironman competition, or something small like losing those 5 lbs of stubborn baby weight that seem to hang on like peanut butter.

The challenge isn’t reaching that first goal, it is setting up the next one. Each time you reach your fitness goal you must plan what you want to do next to maintain your results.

Last weekend I ran a 15k ( it was actually 9.5 miles instead of 9.3 but whose counting?) and was a bit bummed going into it. I hate not having M to run with me. It is difficult because there isn’t someone to pace with, there isn’t someone to chat with, there isn’t someone to share the memories with. But surprisingly I not only survived but I had the best race yet. I averaged an 8:40 a mile pace which is insanely fast compared to the usual 10:00 pace. Turning that last corner and seeing 1:20 on the clock with only a short sprint left was pretty much cloud nine. Realizing I beat my goal by 9 minutes brought me to that ultimate runners high. Awesome! WOO HOO! But now what?

Here is where the challenge comes. What to work towards next? It is finding a goal that is achievable yet almost out of grasp. While my gerbil wheel continues to spin uncontrollably, I would love to start a little self competition. For anyone that is reading this, set a fitness goal for yourself. There are a couple of ways to do this…

Pictures

1. Find a picture of yourself in the past 5 years where you were at your best physically and mentally. Not the skinniest , not the most food deprived, but the healthiest.

2.Post that picture up somewhere that you can see everyday to remind yourself of what is achievable.

Written

By putting your goals in writting, you are much less likely to forget about it.

1. Decide what you want to work towards.

2. Write down a date that your goal must be achieved by, no excuses.

3.  Write down a plan . What can you do weekly that will get you to that finish line?

4. Post your Goals somewhere that you see everyday. Tell people about your goals.

M told me this– Goals aren’t goals unless they are public. If you tell no one your goals and you don’t reach them, you are only letting yourself down. When others know what you are working toward then you have to let them down as well.

I challenge everyone to start the process of fitness goals . I promise it will make you feel better about yourself in more ways than you would think. If you have no one to share your goals with, send us a message! We would love to hear what you have planned 🙂

So happy February tomorrow everyone. Good luck with your goals. And Go Pittsburgh! ( Maybe that will motivate M to finally publish one of her posts .)

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Use your brain

This is quite the comedic title if you know me at all. Coming from the girl who didn’t know pickles were cucumbers, that diet coke didn’t have any calories, once weighed herself in college with a 20 lb backpack on and freaked out at the numbers on the scale, and … well I am done making fun of myself because you may all think a bit less of me if I continued ( as if you didn’t already.)

But really, when it comes to health and fitness do you use your brain? Making small changes in normal routines can change your health dramatically. When preparing food, have you ever switched to cooking spray for butter/oil? Used turkey products instead of similar products made of beef? Used flavored creamer instead of half and half with spoonfuls of sugar in your coffee? It takes such little changes but unfortunately not everyone is aware how easy it really is to eat healthier. If you aren’t given the tools, how are you supposed to even know where to start?

I came to a revelation this past week. YES I started using my brain ( shocking I know). For the past 15 months or so we have aspired to be “runners”. Throwing in a few days of strength training and running about 4 days a week was all that it took. Something seemed to be missing but I didn’t give much thought and simply continued on with the regular routine. The first week post Disney M and I , separately but together, thought about the idea of ‘fast’ running. What would it feel like to actually run for time? Is it possible to gain speed without speed work ( speed work makes me puke, literally, I throw up every time I sprint) but just by thinking about moving faster?

Well I gave it a shot. Last weekend I tried it on a 7 mile run. The entire time I only thought about pushing it a little harder, not killing myself, just running a little faster. My much-anticipated front door quickly approached  ” HOW DID I DO?” I was absolutely SHOCKED that I had maintained an 8:40 pace for the entire 7 miles. THAT IS almost a minute and a half less than normal! WHAT??? That is all it takes push it a little harder? To be honest, it has been a lot more fun this week to actually push myself instead of settling in the zone of comfort.

The point of this boring and self-absorbed story isn’t to say LOOK WHAT I CAN DO… it is to say LOOK WHAT YOU CAN DO! If you start using your brain when you exercise, you can do things you never knew possible. If you normally spend an entire hour on the elliptical machine at the gym, try jogging for 30 minutes and throwing in some weights for that hour instead. If you have put off physical activity since you are too busy with your kids, take them out and play with them. There is no better way to teach your kids to be healthy than by showing them. Play tag, take a stroll in the jogging stroller, go on family walks, do SOMETHING that is out of your comfort zone and you are sure to begin seeing positive changes physically and mentally.

As hypocritical as I may sound, USE YOUR BRAIN  in a new way TODAY!

Or at least this week, try something new physically just to get a glimpse of what you are capable of.

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