challenges, fitness and nutrition

Running Uphill

“There’s never a good reason to run uphill.”

I said this to a running buddy as we were rolling through the early miles of a half marathon. During the many miles of training and training, I realized that I burn so much more energy going uphill. Instead, now I use it as a break. A chance to catch my breath. I just keep on walking and walking uphill, then run again once it flattens out.

Well, I stand corrected.

The other day I ran uphill in the parking lot outside my gym. It was a part of the annual Murph workout, the traditional way CrossFitters honor Memorial Day. There’s a mile run at the beginning and a mile run at the end and a whole bunch of other stuff in between.

Originally, I planned to pull out my AirPods so I had a distraction during those miles. I hate running without music. Whenever I run, I put on my favorite running playlist to tune out the pain. But then I thought about the reason we are doing Murph, to remember the fallen who have given the ultimate sacrifice, and I decided instead of tuning out the pain, I would tune into it. Tune in to the purpose. Tune in to the discomfort. Tune in to the labor and even the heartbreak of it all.

So I did. I thought about the soldiers. The meaning. What I have because of what they gave up. I thought about their families, their buddies, brothers, mourning, suffering, toiling but continuing on.

So I continued. I loved that one of my gal pals came up and ran the last lap with me. She gave me a pep talk about her grandfather who was an Army Ranger and using his memory and mantra to keep going.

Once I was done, one of the women who completed it with me brought me a fancy champagne glass of water to toast the moment and refresh. Then, I turned around and cheered for my friends who were doing it after. Noticing their efforts. Hoping to give them a lift.

Then I think of the many with PTSD, with depression, substance abuse, lingering effects of the time and service they gave. There are many who are running uphill every day without us even knowing it. Burning out their energies just to keep going. If you are someone who is running uphill, I hope you can find a way to pause and walk for a while to catch your breath. And that a good friend joins you on the path for the journey to keep you inspired, positive, and moving forward. I hope someone thinks enough to offer you cool refreshment.

There are very few good reasons to run uphill. Once in a while, it happens that we have to. If you are running uphill each day in any way, I am cheering for you, hoping to give you a lift.

adventure, health

Feeling Beachy

A quick trip to the beach was on the radar for this girl. Not a long stay by any means, but an escape. A quick change of scenery.

A little salt in the air. Sunshine on the skin and sand in the toes. There is no better medicine. From the sound of the ocean to smell of the air to the beach vibe of the people. It all equates to relaxation.

In order to feel beachy, you need great accommodations. We found just the right place. This trip featured a cute little 2 bedroom house found on Airbnb. Definitely old fashioned by the exterior look and the bathroom’s dated tile but a lipstick renovation had been recently completed mixing the new with the old. It was perfect for our little stay.

Some of my favorite features were visible instantly. The location to the beach. The simple and quiet street. The two beach bikes sitting on the porch screaming ride me! The screened porch with comfy furnishings. These favorites will be memory makers without question.

I mean as soon as we pulled up two travelers eyed the bikes and went for a ride. I could hear the giggles as they navigated their way down the street in the night with a cellular flash light.

Then there were the bedtime giggles. These started after the claiming of beds, of course. The trouble makers were clearly together instigating giggles. The giggles and snorts went on and on. Then they stopped. Then they started again. The silence of the night crept in after the sounds of excitement. Finally. I believe everyone realized tomorrow will bring new adventures. Rest those weary eyes I said to myself.

Rest now. Play later. Now I will go dream about living my best beach life while I’m visiting this beautiful area with family and friends.

It’s always a peaceful place. The sounds, the imagery, the smells. The beach can easily be a reset button for the toughest of weeks or days prior.

fitness and nutrition

Decluttering

It’s Spring cleaning time.  But maybe not in the way you think.

I definitely need to spend some time cleaning out my house, but that will be a summer project.  Right now I am focused on cleaning out my nutritional clutter.

A little history…

A few years ago I chronicled my weight loss following a macro-counting program called Stronger U.  I did two sessions and lost a good amount of weight.  Since then, over two years ago, I’ve been kind of winging it, adapting the principles I learned from Stronger U without measuring or counting.  For the most part, it means keeping protein the priority at most / all meals.  I fill in with carbs and fat but try to stick with familiar ingredients and products. I meal prep each week, although it’s not as elaborate as it used to be. I still weigh myself every day and follow the active online Stronger U community.

I was doing pretty good for a long time.  In fact, I lost more than 10 pounds after my last session was complete.  I stayed in the weight range I wanted for the most part, and was able to eat and go about my days and activities feeling pretty good.

Over time, the number on the scale started to creep up, especially over the last 3 months. The first thing I noticed was that my clothes don’t fit as well anymore. Tight in the waist. I have extra flab around my middle. Now the scale is up 15 pounds from where I was a year ago and almost 25 from the lowest number I saw post-Stronger U. I’ve hit what I call my “emergency number,” meaning the number on the scale that means I am out of control. I could blame COVID, but I won’t. I’ve been active and have kept my routines up. Instead, I think it’s from the “nutritional clutter” I’ve let pile up.

I haven’t abandoned what I know, but I’ve gotten in the habit of letting things slide. I’m not eating pancakes for breakfast, but I am gobbling three handfuls of almonds instead of one with those hard boiled eggs. I still eat dark chocolate chips on low-carb vanilla yogurt each night, but it’s more like even amounts of chips and yogurt than just a sprinkle. I overdo it on the cheese and crackers at times. I have half a can of low-fat pringles with my bunless hamburger and sugar free pickles instead of just a stack.

Stronger U called it Bites, Licks, and Tastes (BLTs.) Little things add up to a lot of extra calories. I’ve known a change was necessary for about a month now, and I’ve just tried to dial back my portions. That hasn’t worked, so something more structured is necessary. Change isn’t always fun, but I’m ready for a reset. More on how that’s coming in future posts.

Is there anything you’ve let slide recently that needs a reset? Let us know in the comments.

fitness and nutrition

What’s your motivation?

Walking toward the back of the gym, the question came out of nowhere:

“What’s your motivation?”

A newish member of the class. I’d only really exchanged hellos, good jobs, and smiles with him and his daughter. So the question caught me off guard.

“What’s your motivation?”

I must have looked puzzled. So he went on…

“You work harder than anyone in here. I talk about it with my daughter. I want to know what motivates you.”

My heart kind of swelled in that moment. what to say? I told him I used to weigh 313 pounds. Both my parents died too young from choices they made. I’m trying to live longer to be there for my family. To change that history. I told him I also work out to bust stress.

He smiled and said congratulations and keep at it.

I often feel like I blend in. Hide in plain sight. I don’t lift the most weight by a long show. I can’t do the advanced gymnastics movements. I figure most people notice me when I’m dancing or singing or tripping over something (often!)

I may never get those fancy coordinated movements. I may never lift as much as most do. But to be noticed and seen as someone who works. Who tries. Who puts in the effort. There are few greater compliments I could receive.

It was also a great reminder of my “why.” These dragging-on days can make it easy to forget my purpose.

This was also a reminder to give someone that compliment. Pay attention when others strive and just say it. You never know who might need to hear that verbal applause. I walked a little taller the rest of the day and remembered that I never know who is watching.

Keep doing the work. Someone notices. someone sees. Someone is inspired.

What’s your motivation?

healthy hacks

Rising Rituals

Win the morning, win the day, to paraphrase author and entrepreneur Tim Ferris.

Life these days has me early to bed, early to rise.

Right now, a good morning starts the night before. I lay my clothes out for whatever the day may bring. If I am going to the gym, I pack my gym bag and work clothes and put them in my car. One less thing to worry about in the wee hours.

Coffee maker starts brewing at 4:15 am.

I start the day by preparing my coffee and lighting a candle. Something that smells good. The warm light is comforting and for some reason just adds to the quiet sense of this as my personal time and gift to myself.

Then I read for about 5-10 minutes. I just finished Obstacle is the Way and started Stillness is the Key. Then, I grab my 5 Second Journal. This journal was recently recommended to me by a friend. I jot my way through my daily schedule and morning thoughts. Probably the most helpful part is writing down the main project for my day. I am generally pretty scatterbrained and can get through a day without even touching the most important thing. Forcing myself to choose a priority helps me think ahead to getting that done. I also benefit from the hour-by-hour breakdown of the day as a bird’s eye view of what is ahead.

After reading, writing, candle, and coffee, the day may take one of two paths. I may have time for a quick errand or two…empty the dishwasher, pay a bill, or I might do some more extensive writing. If I am working out at home that day, I start my home workout.

By the time I really start moving, I feel productive. I feel relatively calm, centered, and directed. The day is going in the right direction. I blow my candle out and off I go!

My biggest challenge is staying off my phone throughout this process. Some days this is easier than others. I know I need to use my time productively and generally my phone scrolling is sort of mindless. I can also quickly lose 20 minutes and not know what happened. So I try to keep it to paper and pencil as much as possible.

My morning routine for the past few months. It wouldn’t work for everyone but it works for me. Sometimes this is the only time I have to myself all day. While I love and appreciate people, getting my mind right and having some time to just think and greet the day myself is helpful for finding my footing in this hectic and unsteady world. What do you do to start your day off right?