Running Revelations

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Reasons my 4 mile run was terrible:

– Good news: I have muscle now. Bad news: my lungs forget the capacity they need to run.
– Hills.
– You don’t get to stop every 12-15 reps like you do when you lift. You’re just expected to keep going?!
– Awkward left turn at the end of the run when we were so close to being done. NO THANK YOU, I WILL PROCEED STRAIGHT DOWN THE SIDEWALK AND MEET YA BACK THERE.
– Spitting rain. Either rain or don’t. Actually, please don’t rain. Please just snow. #teachersolutions
– Phantom hip aches (now THAT’S an old injury) and shin pains (go AWAY for the love).

Reasons my 4 mile run was awesome:

– I can count the number of times I’ve gone running in the last six weeks on two hands. SO AT LEAST I WENT.
– Even though I was bringing up the rear the entire time, I was always running near someone or talking, which was nice.
– One of my friends got engaged and I haven’t seen her (or her ring!) since it all happened and she was running with our group, too!
– I ran the half mile from home to lululemon before the run, so I added a little bit of distance.
– I always run faster with groups than I do by myself, SO YAY FOR SPEED.
– I finished.

Running is not an easy sport. It is so rewarding and it is so fun, but it takes a lot of work. Sure, you can decide to go for a run on any random day, but if you aren’t running consistently, you will likely feel slow and frustrated at some point while you’re out there. I define myself by the six days a week I used to run 4-6 miles per day at an 8:30 pace and that is just not where I am anymore. Could I get back to that point? Absolutely. But I was not going to get there last night. I was not going to feel that ease, that speed, that feeling of happiness you get when you are out there running the distances and the speeds you know you can handle with no problem. Last night was all about survival. Ha!

For some, that is part of the fun. I know I enjoy the challenge of “starting over” from time to time. But it can also be mentally challenging. You are so angry that you have continued to workout, but you’ve lost running fitness. You are so frustrated that you are, in fact, breathing while you run, yet it feels like you can’t catch your breath. But, as I told my students about writing yesterday, you aren’t going to get better at something unless you do that thing. You won’t be a better writer if you don’t practice writing, and you won’t be a better runner unless you are actually out there running.

Strength training plays a HUGE role in a runner’s life, but I was kind of using my strength training as an excuse to not run. I figured hey, with all this hard work, I’ll be so strong and fast that I can just pick up where I left off! Not true. Though I do have plans to finish the Hammer & Chisel workout calendar I am completing now, I also need to get my running game back together. I am set to run a half marathon at the end of March. AH! What have I gotten myself into?!

For now, I’ll lace up my pretty new shoes, wear my favorite running leggings, and pretend to be the person running below. Because she’s fast and awesome and not angry while she runs. 😉

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Marvelous Happenings

Before I get on to the marvelous things that happened this weekend, can I share a revelation?

Like most people, the first Monday of the year, I started a new workout and nutrition plan. Did you? Well, even if you didn’t, here’s my two cents. I am a generally healthy eater and avid exerciser to begin with, so I was more seeking structure than a magic pill for weight loss, because I don’t need that. And now that I’m a week into this very structured plan, I’m irritated.

There’s a very fine line between following a plan exactly TO the plan, which is what I’ve been doing, and living your life. I do believe there is a time and a place for strict guidelines, but I need to learn to be okay with doing something “off plan”.

I went to a Steelers bar to watch the playoff game and I ordered chicken nachos. There are worse things. I went to a pop up workout in D.C. instead of waking up and doing my scheduled lifting. There are worse things. I’m in the midst of figuring out how to make this plan fit MY life instead of fitting myself into its mold, because it’s not lasting to be on a strict nutrition and workout plan. I like cookies and chocolate and chicken nachos, thank you very much. Plus I LOVE working out with people, and it’s not the end of the world to do a different workout and skip the one that is planned. Because it is also not normal to workout twice daily. Maybe for fun, but that’s a personal choice. 😉 And now I’m done rambling.

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Marvelous is…

Outdoor recess in January where I’m NOT freezing my tail off. Not so marvelous is a slight mist that is almost like rain, but not really…

Making new recipes! I’ve had Quinoa and Black Bean SaladTurkey Chili, and Crockpot Salsa Chicken lately.

Returning a bunch of random items at different stores and getting your money back for all of them! #winning

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This image because it’s so true of me! Exhibit A:

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Parenthood on Netflix, cinnamon apple tea, and a big fuzzy blanket.

Marvelous is also a bar full of Steelers fan and a WIN in the playoffs! (Now deserving this win, that’s a whole other story…did we deserve this particular win? Yes, because the Bengals are classless. Are we going to make it past next week’s game against the Broncos? Here’s to hoping…)

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A free pop-up workout at Union Market! We did a dynamic warm up length wise across that room that included sprints, suicides, burpees, bear crawls, and more. Then we did HIIT exercises and ended the workout with a free juice from South Block Juice Co.! Chris and Alex Perrin, who led the workout, are local fitness instructors. The music was great, everyone had so much energy, and there was actually some competition in the room among friends! Though they did wear a headset so that we could all hear them, it was difficult to hear Alex at times which was frustrating, but it was kind of like The Wave…half the room figured out what to do and the rest of us followed suit. 🙂

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61 degrees in January. WHERE IS THE SNOW?! #teacherproblems

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Coffee at Ebenezer’s, my church’s coffeehouse.

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Driving to random convenience stores to play the Powerball. The more random, the more chances of winning, right?! #logic

And the highlight…getting a library card. I had to show approximately 234783 forms of ID because I don’t have a Virginia license yet, but I was so excited just to hang out in the building! Libraries make me happy. 🙂 And I got another audiobook! From Michael Strahan to Ivanka Trump. I borrowed some book suggestions from Allie’s post and I can’t wait to start reading!

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Healthy, Happy Holidays

Can you have a healthy AND happy holiday? It is possible.

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The holiday season used to seriously stress me out. Not because my shopping wasn’t done or my schedule was overbooked, but simply because for a few days, I felt like I wouldn’t be in control of what I was eating. I would just remind myself that I just had to get through these few days and then I could get back to my normal eating and workout schedule. But guess what? You (and I) are not here to survive the holiday season, you are here to enjoy it. I told you that I don’t appreciate being told I have to “work off” everything I am eating. So here are a few tips and tricks I’ve started applying to my life in the last few years. 🙂

1. Drink enough water. Very often, when hunger strikes, you are actually thirsty and that is your body’s way of telling you. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. That means if you weigh 120 lbs, you should aim to drink 60 oz of water every day. And then when you feel hungry, you will know that you really are! Enjoy feeling full and hydrated.

2. Keep a consistent sleep schedule. In a perfect world, we would all get 8 hours of sleep and be well rested each and every morning. For most of us, that is not the case, and trying to play “catch up” when we have a few days off is very tempting! Unfortunately, it’s detrimental to your sleep and your cognitive functioning to play this catch up game. Try to aim for those 8 hours that you don’t usually get by going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up around the same time you usually do. Enjoy being well-rested! I’m currently working on this as I’ve fallen down the Netflix “Parenthood” rabbit hole. Oops… 😉

3. Choose to feed yourself healthy food. This sounds strange, but when I cook for myself, I typically make something that would be labeled “healthy” or “balanced”. I truly enjoy these meals, but they serve another purpose. There will be many times during the holiday season when a coworker brings you a delicious snack or you meet up with an old friend for dinner. If you are planning healthy meals and snacks for yourself for the rest of the day, those out of the ordinary snacks and meals won’t be as big of a deal. Enjoy that time with others!

4. Go with the flow. If you are following a specific diet or exercise plan through the holidays, know that it will likely be interrupted in some way, shape, or form. I’m not saying you cannot continue to stick to your plan, because you totally can! But you should expect some minor interruptions. You might find yourself working out at a different time of day than you typically do and you might find yourself having a homemade Christmas cookie for dessert. Enjoy these interruptions. They are only here once a year. 🙂

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The holiday season occasionally still makes me feel stressed out, but I know how to balance my “normal” life with my “holiday” life. There’s no reason to throw your health out the window during this time and promise yourself you will start fresh in January. Do little things every day and it will make a difference. Take a walk with your family. Volunteer to make a healthy side dish for Christmas dinner. Enjoy this very special time of year!

Tried It Tuesday: ClassPass

If there is one thing to know about me, it is that I love to work out. My most favorite way to break a sweat is to go running, but as we all know, I have had my ups and downs with running. Any sport or workout can be hard on your body, but I don’t always take the best care of myself post-workout (just being honest!) and so injuries strike. Such is life. That would still be life even if I was doing everything right! It comes with the running territory.

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In the spirit of taking care of myself, I decided to join ClassPass. I don’t have a gym membership because there is a gym in my apartment building and like I said, I love to run. However, ClassPass intrigued me because I love the atmosphere of a fitness class. It’s part of the reason I became a fitness instructor! I found that for $99, I could attend classes at 231 different studios in the DC area. That is a LOT of variety!

Plus, studio classes tend to be on the more expensive side, so it is actually cheaper to go to some of my favorite places through ClassPass. I figure that most classes are around $20, so to get your money’s worth, you have to go to at least 5 classes per month. After that, it’s like the classes are “free”! This is my version of girl math. 😉 You can only go to each place 3 times every month, which keeps people from taking advantage of ClassPass’ cheaper price and using it to just go to their favorite studio. It also encourages you to mix up your workouts! Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to having this kind of gym membership.

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– Advantages –

  1. I can book classes online or through the ClassPass app on my phone.

2. I am able to search for barre, boxing, cycling, dance, gym time, martial arts, pilates, rowing, strength training, or yoga and choose a certain time frame to even further narrow the search. Gym time simply means an hour of time to use any of the machines at a certain gym like a regular member, which is a cool feature, too!

3. I am able to try a different studio every day of the week if I want to!

4. I can book at the last minute, so if I am not sure what I feel like doing that day or I am not sure how my day will go, I still have options when I finally have time to work out.

– Disadvantages –

  1. I lose a little bit of time driving to new places because I am not sure how long it will take me to get there and I don’t want to be late! Most studios don’t allow you to take the class if you are even a few minutes late, which is totally understandable.

2. You must cancel 12 hours in advance to avoid being charged. This rule sounds logical, but on Saturday night I signed up for a cycling class at 10:06 PM. The class was to take place at 10 AM on Sunday morning. Well, when my friend went to sign up for the class, she didn’t get in. That can happen. But at that point, I couldn’t cancel my reservation even though I had just made it because it was less than 12 hours away. See the predicament?! Luckily, lots of studios offer the first class free or have a free trial week, so you can squeeze in that way…or you can pray a spot opens by morning, which is what we did in that case. 🙂

3. Most studios only allow 3-4 ClassPass members in each of their classes. The rest of the spots are reserved for people who actually have a membership to that particular studio. Again, this makes sense, but it can be tricky if you are planning to go to a class with another ClassPass friend!

4. If you aren’t great at managing your schedule, you could possibly spend a lot of extra money with your membership. If you cancel less than 12 hours in advance, you are charged $15. If you miss a class completely, you are charged $20. However, this definitely keeps you accountable to what you have scheduled! Plus, I have been in situations where I am on the way to a class and I just know with traffic, I will not make it. In my experience, if you call the studio, they will move your reservation to another day or try to accommodate you in some way. However, that may not always be the case, so even if you are intending to go to a class, if something happens and you don’t get there on time, that may just be an extra charge for you!

– Final Thoughts –

Ultimately, ClassPass is the way to go if you are someone who loves studio classes but doesn’t love studio class membership prices. 😉 One of my favorite cycling studios, Zengo Cycle, is finally on ClassPass, which makes me so happy! Of course, you won’t find every studio included. For example, SoulCycle is a very popular cycling studio in DC, but it is not part of ClassPass. As ClassPass gains more popularity, I think more studios are jumping on board. When I looked into this membership at the beginning of 2015, it did not have nearly as many options as it does now!

Another thing I love is the opportunity to give feedback. After I take a class, the first thing that opens on the ClassPass app is this survey to rate the class and one question about the studio or the instructor. I love that ClassPass cares enough about its members to get their opinions on the studios and workouts they are attending!

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Do I use ClassPass every day? No. I make sure to use it enough to get my money’s worth and cross train, but I still get to do my favorite thing, which is run. I have tried more classes and had more variety in my workouts in the last two months than I have in a long time! I’ve done pull-ups (with lots of assistance), I’ve lifted kettlebells that are heavier than I ever thought I could lift, I’ve strengthened my core with the wonderful but terrible TRX bands, I’ve attempted Pure Barre, and I’ve actually picked up dumbbells and used them for more than 5 minutes. Ha! Overall, ClassPass has been a great investment for me. I will definitely stick with it through the cold winter months when running may be more weather dependent!

So tell me…do you have a gym membership? Are you a workout at home person? Do YOU have ClassPass?

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Linking up with Sara for Tried It Tuesday!

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5 Ways To Make Your Workout Happen

Social media is a wonderful tool for connecting like-minded people to one another, but I think that too much connection can make us put some pressure on ourselves. There are so many articles, pictures, and pins on Pinterest about eating healthy and working out that I think sometimes we think if we are not 100% “on” all the time, we are doing something wrong. Because isn’t everyone else doing all that healthy stuff? The most important thing to remember is that working out is bettering YOUR health and YOUR body. A workout is not something to just check off our list or tell others that we accomplished, it is something that changes us mentally and physically for the better! We need to strive for balance, not perfection. Still, whether you are having a busy day or a “regular” day, here are five tips that will help you balance your life vs. your workout.

Decide what you are going to do the next day the night before.
I cannot stress this enough! You must decide what you are going to do and when you are going to do it the night before, or else it is all too easy to let the day get away from you. If I know that I have commitments right after work, like a meeting or my grad class, then I label that a long day and I KNOW I will not be waking up early. I will want to sleep as long as possible so that I have energy. Therefore, I will be working out when I finally get home…and that means I must pick a workout that I enjoy doing that is short. Am I going to feel like going to an hour-long Spin class after a 14 hour day? Definitely not. So be realistic with yourself. Maybe it is easier for you to wake up early and do something before your day begins, but if you are like me and save your workout for the evening, have a plan to do a short workout so that you don’t give yourself an excuse to skip it. I give myself many options: I do 30 minute workouts on Beachbody OnDemand, I know which classes at my gym happen in the 7 o’clock hour and are only 30 minutes, I give myself the option to run…but I always choose one of those options the night before. So, when you are laying down at night and going over all of the things that you need to accomplish the next day, decide what you are going to do when you finally get home and have time to workout. Short and sweet is key!

Workout as soon as you get home.
If you are a morning person, you can skip this one. Ha! If you are an afternoon or evening exerciser, I can’t recommend anything more than changing into workout clothes as soon as you get home and starting your workout right away! Maybe you drive straight to the gym instead. Whatever it is, do it right away. If you sit down on your couch, there will be no getting up! 😉

Schedule your workout!
In conjunction with the point above, you must decide the what and when of your workout, but what better way to make sure you get yourself moving than by actually scheduling it? Some gyms and fitness studios require participants to sign up ahead of time so that you don’t arrive at the gym and find your favorite class full. Likewise, these “sign ups” usually come with a late fee. If you sign up for a class and don’t show up, you are charged a small fee. Who wants to pay extra for not showing up!? That is definitely encouragement for me to show up, unless I have a legitimate reason not to go, like being sick. If your gym doesn’t require you to sign up or you don’t belong to a gym, schedule your workout by making plans with a friend. When I have plans with a friend and I am not looking forward to going just because I am being lazy, there is nothing like seeing a text message that says “Can’t wait to see you later!” or “We should run on ____ trail tonight!” Someone else is expecting me to show up and work hard with them, so I will! And you will, too. 🙂

Choose to do something that you really enjoy.
This stems from what I was saying above about doing what you think you are “supposed” to be doing. Your workout is changing YOU for the better, so you need to choose to do something that makes you happy. Obviously we all want to see results from our hard work, but you will be much less likely to see results and/or stay consistent if you don’t enjoy or look forward to what you are doing. I am a runner, and right now I really don’t feel like running. In fact, I signed up for Classpass for the next month so I can try a whole bunch of different studios and classes (it seems to be offered in big cities only so far!). Think about the workout you have scheduled for later today: are you excited about it? Do you enjoy that activity? Your answer should be “yes” to both of those questions. I know that yoga is so good for my mind and body, and I enjoy doing yoga, but I would never make myself do it by myself working out at home. I don’t enjoy that. I have tried many different online videos, but I am the happiest little yogi when I am at the studio. So figure out what you like and do that thing.

Give yourself a break.
I mean this in the most literal sense. If you are working out, you obviously need to incorporate rest days too, but that is not what I mean. I mean actually let yourself skip a workout AND not feel bad about it if you don’t want to do it or you really just do not have time. It is not our life’s work to spend every day in the gym. Some people love working out so much that they do make it to the gym every day, and others of us are like, why do I have to do this? I saw this article on Huffington Post recently and it really spoke to me:

“Losing weight is not your life’s work, and counting calories is not the call of your soul. You surely are destined for something much greater, much bigger, than shedding 20 pounds or tallying calories. What would happen if, instead of worrying about what you had for breakfast, you focused instead on becoming exquisitely comfortable with who you are as a person? Instead of scrutinizing yourself in the mirror, looking for every bump and bulge, you turned your gaze inward?”

Read the full article here.

How true is that? I am a religious person, so I am always working to be the best version of myself. The person that God made me to be. But even if you are not religious, isn’t your character so much more important than anything else? We are not meant to spend our lives fretting over being the most fit person, although social media can make that all too easy. We are meant for so much more. And that might start with letting ourselves be “okay” with missing a day at the gym or having a weekend full of indulgent food. Balance, not perfection, remember?

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