Training Tuesday: MCM [Week 2]

So, I’m running a marathon. I still can’t believe that my body will be capable of crossing a finish line after 26.2 miles, but other people have done it before me, so I know it’s possible. Now that I have committed to 26.2 miles, I find myself noticing more bumper stickers that say 50 and 100 on them…as in 50 and 100 miles.

No. Way!!!

I know that these races exist because I follow many running Instagram accounts, but it’s like when you notice something, then you start seeing it everywhere. For me, it’s been commit to a long distance, notice even longer distances. I will not be convinced! Hahaha

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I would probably look like this six hours into that race. This is how I felt about making dinner after returning from teaching a Spin class last Monday. Monday is a rest day according to this training plan, but you have to make tweaks to make it work for you sometimes…so Monday, I rested as much as possible…and then I taught a class…and then I was too tired to make dinner. Ha!

On the schedule last week was only a total of 10 miles during the week with a longer run on the weekend. 3 miles, 4 miles, 3 miles. Sounds pretty easy. On one 3 mile day, I planned to run down to a place that I know is 1.5 miles away and then turn around and run back. Keeping up with that theme of easy.

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And then as you can see, I went all over the land in weird directions.

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Also, I finally got new shoes. They are exactly the same as the pair I had before, but a different color. This was not my intention, but apparently my feet know what they like. Asics Gel Kayano 21, you are the one. 😉 They gave me speed to the nearest water fountains because oh my gosh it has been so humid and hot here! I have been running at random times of the day due to a combination of factors: my schedule, my own laziness, or the fact that it looked like it was going to downpour. You would think the downpour would bring some cooler air with it, but no such luck!

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I usually return home with a face like Rudolph. But it’s okay when upon my return, I find a package in my mailbox.

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I’ve also been trying to watch my intake of sugar because lots of sugar plus lots of running equals lots of cravings, at least for me. If I eat less sugar, I crave less sugar. Even though the dish above looks quite dessert like, it’s actually plain greek yogurt with chocolate PB2, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. I am really really trying to like the flavor of plain greek yogurt because I know it is so much better for me than the pre-flavored yogurts, but at this stage of the game, I still need lots of add-ins! One day soon I will be a plain greek yogurt girl. 🙂

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I completed this week of training with a long run and the realization that I am actually a week ahead of schedule…which actually makes me feel better because I feel like I am building a really strong base in regards to running and cross training! Besides Spinning, I have also been doing some strength workouts like this one from Blonde Ponytail:

5 Rounds

10 squats

10 push-ups

10 reverse lunges (each leg)

10 plank toe taps (each side)

10 burpees

…and of course yoga, foam rolling, dynamic stretches (moving while in the stretch), and good old fashioned couch laying. 😉 I bought resistance bands so I can incorporate some of the hip strengthening exercises I learned in physical therapy, too! But mostly, my laptop has been my best friend…the Internet is great at providing entertaining at home workouts when I’m not running! I’ve been using Beachbody OnDemand, videos from YouTube, and pins from Pinterest. I use Beachbody OnDemand regularly, but YouTube and Pinterest pins are things I always say I’m going to do, and never get around to. I’m very proud of myself for taking cross training and strength training so seriously this time around!

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There are always some doubts in your head no matter how closely you stick to the plan or how good your body feels. I get mad at myself because my speed is nowhere near where it used to be, but I have to accept the “slower” speed because it’s really not all that slow AND I am not in pain while doing it. We are our own worst critics, but hey, trying to better yourself isn’t a bad thing. 🙂

– What goal are you working to accomplish right now?

– What’s your favorite at-home workout?

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I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25, 2015. If you feel compelled, please help me reach my fundraising goal of $550 by donating on this website. Thank you for your support!!!

What I Ate (Or Didn’t Eat) Wednesday

I think about food constantly. I am definitely not one of those people who “forgets” to eat. I had a conversation with my coworker last week about how I don’t understand those people. I eat lunch and think about what’s for dinner. It’s just how I roll. 😉 But there was a time in life where I didn’t just think about food…I obsessed over it. And that led to some very unhealthy habits. How are we even supposed to know what to do anyway? Paleo, vegan, “clean eating”, counting your macros, the Zone diet…IT’S ALL SO CONFUSING! I listen to Chalene Johnson’s podcast “The Chalene Show” and she said something powerful recently: you don’t want to go ON a diet, you want to HAVE a diet. Something healthy that you can continue to do for the rest of your life. That makes so much sense. But of course I am just now coming to this conclusion and it took me awhile to get here. A few years ago, I fell into the calorie counting trap.

When I was in high school, I danced and ran cross country. During my junior year, I also started going to the gym for fun. But I never worked out because I felt like I had to. Being active was just something I did. The same goes for food: I honestly can’t even tell you what I ate back then because I know I didn’t like a lot of pretty normal food…think scrambled eggs or lasagna with red meat…my picky childhood habits still existed. Ha! In any case, food was food to me. I ate what I craved and I ate when I was hungry. And now that I think about it, my high school lunches usually consisted of the salad bar, a side of fries, and a chocolate chip cookie. I’m dying. Hahaha

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June 2010

Anyways, like I said, I just didn’t give much thought to what I ate or how I worked out…or how I looked. That all changed when I went to college. The four years I spent at Duquesne were four of the best years of my life, but I became SO hard on myself. Freshman year, I was a statistic. The usual girl who gains the freshman fifteen. Except it was like the freshman eleven, so I was kind of proud of myself. Ha! I had just continued living my life the same way…eating what I wanted, working out how I wanted…but I threw some other things in the mix too. Like snacks in the library when you’re studying. And alcohol. And snacks with your friends when you’re watching a movie. 😉 Plus, I just wasn’t moving as much. I was still dancing, but I wasn’t running anymore, and going to the gym was like social hour for me. In any case, I felt bloated and gross by the time I went home for the summer and I knew I was going to do something to change my ways.

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April 2011

It started off REALLY well. I LOVED indoor cycling classes at my gym and I started just being more conscious of what I was eating. If I knew I was going to indulge later, I would try to eat healthier earlier in the day. It was very balanced throughout the summer and all the way through my sophomore year. I even became a certified Spinning instructor! And I really did feel a change! But that was the extent of my thoughts about food and exercise. Point for me.

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April 2012

Then, I discovered the app My Fitness Pal and that little app rocked my world. Suddenly I was counting the calories in EVERYTHING. I certainly wasn’t eating less, but I really cared how many calories were in whatever I was eating. I worked an office job that summer so it was pretty easy to control what I was eating because I could only eat what I packed in my lunch box. If you aren’t familiar with My Fitness Pal, you can enter a bunch of statistics about yourself and it calculates what how many calories IT thinks you should be eating. It’s not very accurate (because everyone is totally different) and it doesn’t take into account what is in food…protein, carbs, fat, sugar…it just counts calories. So that’s what I did. And I became a maniac.

All of these crazy thoughts were just in my head. I fell into the trap of thinking 1200 calories per day was the way. I am not saying this is the wrong number for everyone, it was just the wrong number for me. Using My Fitness Pal to track my calories, I remember getting excited when it told me how much weight I would lose if I kept up these eating habits. And I remember how I excited I was when it said I didn’t reach my calorie goal. So wrong. But at this time, I really thought losing weight and getting to that number I had in my head would make me so happy.

I didn’t want to be the weird person who didn’t eat certain things so I would order them or eat them, even if it was just a few bites. I did get to the point where I didn’t want to eat at restaurants because that food didn’t come with a label that told me how many calories it was. I was the girl at the table Google-ing the restaurant’s nutrition facts while I looked over the menu. I also was the grocery store’s number one fan of everything low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie. I am sure my mother loved grocery shopping with me. But I wouldn’t let myself believe that I was doing anything wrong because I still ate “bad” foods sometimes…even though eating that food made me seriously panic on the inside.

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Exhibit A… 🙂

 I didn’t even let myself believe something was wrong when I was at the hairdresser and I got so dizzy sitting still that they called an ambulance. I was dehydrated…but I was probably also hungry. Other weird things started to happen to me too…and I knew they weren’t supposed to happen. Like I started missing my period. I was tired more than usual. And I craved sugar all. the. time. I remember telling my boyfriend at the time that I was worried that I was doing something wrong, but that I just wanted to be healthier. And because I was losing weight, I felt like that meant I was getting healthier. He told me to delete My Fitness Pal but of course I couldn’t do that. Besides, the only comments I ever heard about the way I looked at this time were, “Wow! Have you lost weight? You look so good!” So even though I was questioning what I was doing, I kept right on going. I was losing weight in all the right places (which I had identified as my stomach and hips) and even though I was getting closer to that number in my head, I had no intention of stopping. I was so proud that I looked so good!

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August 2012

When I got back to school in the fall for my junior year, I rediscovered my love of running. My friends and I had moved off campus and into an apartment and I loved waking up in the morning and running around the city. It was so pretty and such a refreshing way to start the day! But because I was still a maniac at this time, I also loved that running was one of the few exercises that burned the most calories. So if there was a day when I didn’t get to run, that was very very bad.

Finally, I started to hear some negative comments, and because deep inside I knew I was doing it wrong too, these comments really resonated with me. One friend told me he had never seen me eat a piece of pizza and he knew that I would never eat something like that. Just so you know, he usually ate lunch with me and I usually ate salad. And a cookie. Because #allthesugarcravings, remember? Another friend (behind my back) mentioned to one of our mutual friends that she noticed I had lost weight…and I looked too skinny. Those two things really stuck with me because I didn’t want to be that girl. I also didn’t want to be the kind of person who ate at The Cheesecake Factory and then came home to run (even though I already worked out that day). And yes, that did happen.

I kept running (because I love heart love running for more than the number of calories it burns) but I decided to back off calorie counting. Because I had started to doubt myself in this whole journey, I had discovered the term “orthorexia“, which is defined as an unhealthy obsession with eating “healthy” or “right” foods and I kind of thought that fit the bill for me. I wanted to be in control of my food, I wanted to eat only fruits and vegetables and chicken, and I judged other people HARD for their food choices. But when I finally decided to make a change, even though I felt like I identified with orthorexia, I didn’t seek professional help. I felt like because I could recognize this in myself that I didn’t need to get serious help. And that ended up working for me. Instead, I told my mom, my best friend, and my boyfriend at the time what I was thinking…and I told them to watch me. Because I was going to be watching myself. No extra workouts. Giving up the long list of restrictions. And DELETING My Fitness Pal.

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January 2013

I will not lie to you…it was very, very hard. I counted calories for so long that I could still count them even without using the app. I still judged other people for their food choices. I worked out extra hard on days I knew there would be “bad” food choices. And I couldn’t bring myself to reintroduce certain foods to my diet without feeling guilty…but you can’t expect instant change overnight. Also, my family got a puppy, so I had a new obsession. 🙂

I still don’t actually like how I think about food and exercise, but I’m getting better. Ask my friends and family…I probably talk about food and exercise TOO much…but I am just trying to find balance now. I was very unbalanced for so long. I want to be in a place where food is just food and I don’t label it as “good”, “bad”, “healthy”, or “unhealthy”. I really want to know when my mentality shifted so much. Why did I used to be the kind of girl who didn’t think about food or exercise and still loved life? How did I became the kind of girl who judged herself SO MUCH? We all say that we are our own worst critic and I really believe that is so true. But I also believe that we need to work on loving ourselves because we only get one body. Even though I lost weight in this process, I really was not in any way living a healthy life. I was eating the most random assortment of food and working out for way too long. It’s hard for me to be at the weight I am now because it is almost 15 pounds heavier than I was at my lightest…but I honestly don’t believe that my body is made to be at that low weight. I am 5’9!!! Maybe with the right nutrition and exercise, I would get back there. I don’t know. I don’t care. I do know what I don’t want to weigh (don’t we all know that number? ;)) but anything under that certain number in my head is okay with me. Why? Why am I suddenly okay with weighing any number?

Because I’m really happy. Because I have forgiven myself. Because I eat healthy (actually truly healthy…not Kylie is crazy healthy) foods. Because I work out 6 days a week and that is MY choice. Because my clothes fit. And I can buy more if they stop fitting. 😉 Because my friends and family will love me anyway. And because I deserve to eat a cupcake when I want to and not feel bad about it.

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Social Media…I Love You and I Hate You

On Monday, my attitude could most accurately be described as “sunshine”. Did you roll your eyes? I’m being serious, though. I started my day with 507 things to do and I was excited to get to work. This was a complete 180 from my attitude before Spring Break. I really think I was stuck in such a funk! I like to think that I am a person who is very aware. I am aware of other people and their feelings and what is going on. I am also aware of what is happening with me. This is not to say that I’m super emotional all the time, but if something isn’t right, usually I can figure out what it is.

So this funk that I’m speaking of…maybe it was the weight of the beginning of the semester. Maybe it was the weather. I really have no idea what it was! But I knew that there was something in me that was making me feel stressed all of the time and that’s why I couldn’t wait to relax on the couch at the end of the day (or mid-afternoon…or whenever there was time…). Just getting through the day didn’t sound like a way that I wanted to live my life…so I tried to figure out what was making me feel so stressed out. Yes, I had to go to work…yes, I had to go to class…yes, I had homework…but I was still doing things I enjoyed like working out and spending time with friends, so what was the problem?

I’m still not sure if I know, but Lent was approaching and social media was buzzing with what everyone was giving up. It took me a few days, but I finally realized that I wanted to disconnect from social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram because those are the two platforms I use the most. I decided I would continue posting to my Pursuit of Healthiness pages on both Facebook and Instagram, but I was going silent on my personal accounts and there was going to be no scrolling. Why do we spend so much time scrolling? And why did I think this was going to make me so much happier?

The impact that social media has on me is something that I have thought about before. This fall, I realized I was waking up in the morning and immediately reaching for my phone. Granted, I don’t have a clock in my room (I know, could I be any more tech-dependent??), so I do need to know what time it is when I wake up, especially if my alarm is not set. However, I was looking to see what time it was and then checking my messages. That’s fine. Keeping up with my family. I live out of state. That is necessary. But then I was checking Facebook. And Instagram. And Twitter. At which point I would scroll and scroll and scroll. Social media is not the national news. I do not need to know what people are doing at 7 o’clock in the morning. And this seriously delayed the waking up process. I decided I didn’t want to start my day with social media. It is not that important. Enter quiet time. My journal, my Bible, and a daily devotional (Jesus Calling) is on my night stand and THAT is what I spend time doing when I wake up now. That has been going well. But let’s get back to scrolling…

That’s where the problem is. Do I enjoy keeping up with my friends and family and all the other people I follow? Yes, I really do, and I like to post things myself, but there was a part of me that realized scrolling through other people’s lives was not only wasting a great deal of time, it was also making me feel bad about myself. It’s not that we shouldn’t be happy for our friends when we see them post something cool or exciting, but even if you are happy for them, there might still be a little part of you that’s playing the comparison game. I was definitely playing the comparison game with social media. Even if I had the cutest outfit, best workout, heard the most meaningful church sermon, went to the best brunch with friends…I looked at what other people were posting and somehow felt like my day didn’t nearly measure up to theirs.

That is just wrong, my friends.

There’s this stigma surrounding social media that you CAN’T miss out on the most recent posts or you are left out of the loop. If I gave up social media, would I lose touch with everyone I know? Instead of feeling overwhelmed by what everyone else was doing, would I feel overwhelmed and left out?

No. No, I would not.

I would still talk to the people who are important to me. I would look out the window on the bus instead of looking down at my phone. I would make conversation in the elevator (do you find that annoying? Sorry. I became that person!). I would read more books. I would get assignments done days ahead of time instead of the night before. I would blog more. I would make more plans with friends. I would take interest in people…by actually TALKING to them…because I didn’t know what had already happened in their day. And I would notice that the world is actually kind of quiet because even though I wasn’t on my phone…everyone else still was.

The Lenten season has not ended yet but I feel so much happier with myself at this point that I have kind of broken my social media streak of quiet. It started with my baby brother’s birthday…posting my daily meals or workouts is not important but HE IS! If you think about it, we are sharing the best parts of ourselves when we post on social media. We make our lives look all shiny and pretty. But even when we try to “keep it real” and we talk about the fight we had with our mom (please don’t share that with the world) or the endless traffic on the highway, aren’t we still looking for some kind of validation? We want someone to tell us our day isn’t nearly as horrible as it could be, that it will all be okay.

I think I knew all of these things before I went on hiatus, but I seriously needed to hit refresh. I don’t feel like I NEED to see what is going on anymore. I am also more aware of what I am sharing and how I interact with people on social media. I want to share things that are encouraging or interesting. I don’t want to brag or make someone feel like they aren’t good enough. It’s strange how constant contact made me feel stressed and less than…you would think it would be the opposite. That seeing and knowing what was happening would help be feel connected. And I guess in a way, I was connected to others…but I was really disconnected from ME. It’s okay to be selfish about yourself sometimes. I am in a season of life where I feel very selfish because I am working, still in school, living on my own in a new place…I don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s all about me. But really, sometimes it needs to be all about you. Don’t lose yourself in what others are doing because they can’t validate your feelings and you don’t need them to. YOU need to validate YOU. You need to build yourself up. You need to make yourself whole.

Running: It’s All In Your Head

I love to run. I have been running ever since my favorite aunt took me to the park with her and let me “jog”. So what happens when you start to work out and you just feel kind of ehhh? If you are hurt, you should definitely stop whatever you are doing. If you just feel kind of uninspired, then you need to push past that mental block. That’s usually the name of the game in running. Even on the very best running days, you may find yourself wishing for a park bench or a water fountain. 😉 And even though I go through seasons of life where I am more dedicated to a different kind of workout than running, running is still my soul mate workout.

I explore.

I listen to music.

I get to wear fun shoes and clothes.

I clear my head.

It’s completely exhausting and some days much harder than others, but I love it.

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One of the best things about running (for me) is that it’s always there for me. I know that sounds cheesy, but when you look at the fitness world and see how much there is to offer (Zumba, BodyPump, Spinning, yoga, PiYo, Pilates, lifting, swimming, boot camp, etc etc etc), it can be hard to decide what you are going to commit yourself to. For two years in college, I did very little besides run and I completely wrecked my hip. I now have a small tear that will always be there. We need to be dedicated, but we also need to rest. Now when I race, I actually strength train during training and I actually take time off from running after the race. I didn’t do this before. And because I worry that I may get injured again, I take extra time off. That’s just my thing. I am still working out, but I choose other things to do besides running. So it is hard for me to admit that every time I start to train for a race, it feels like I am starting over. I feel slow and everything feels much harder than it should. Slowly but surely, I find my groove again, but it’s hard NOT to be envious of my previously speedy times or feel like I am completely out of shape. I am in shape, I’m just not quite in running shape…yet. 😉

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Right now, I am training for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in April in Washington, D.C. I used to think I was such a good runner that I could run without training…and then I got hurt. HA! Now I use a training plan for every race (like a normal person). On Saturday, I was supposed to run 4 miles and it was 45 degrees and sunny. Running > studying for stats;) I thought I was in for four easy-breezy miles!

Not so much. I was just feeling blah. I also kept getting a cramp in the same place on my side and those are never fun. Must practice breathing like a runner.

Here’s a little preview of my crazy:

Mile 1: Outside. I like being outside. These sidewalks are half slushy, half dry. Who is in charge of cleaning these?

Mile 1.5: Oh look, a hill. I’m going to be a badass and run up that.

Mile 2: WHY?!

Mile 2.5: Photo op.

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For some reason, there have been a ton of geese all over campus lately. And seagulls. All birds seem very confused with this weather!

Mile 3: If I just do one more loop around this side of campus, I can go hoooooooome!

Mile 4: Lots of fast music and darting around like a weirdo looking for every downhill possible. 🙂

There is a reason people say “you only regret the workouts you don’t do”. I felt so much better when I got back to my apartment even though it was a mental challenge to get through four measly miles. And yes, I sat down at one point and texted my friend to complain. Some days are like that! We just have to remember that the slow, hard days are paving the way for happier, faster days. Any run feels great after a particularly hard one!

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Today, I was excited for my Monday miles. You have to get excited because whatever workout you are choosing to do should be fun for you! I could have totally ditched them because I remembered the struggle from this past weekend. I also could have used the excuse that I didn’t have the right shoes…I usually wear my running shoes to the gym where I teach PiYo and run right after class, but I must have been half asleep when I got dressed because I wore the wrong shoes. I walked home after class and practiced saying, “Your legs are not tired, they are warmed up.” Walked in the door, changed my shoes, and walked right back out. Who am I?! It feels good to prove yourself right and start your day off on the right foot.

Happy running and happy Monday, friends! 🙂