Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas in California (... and more running)

"The wind... it's what makes it so warm this time of year. Legend has it, when the Santa Anas blow, anything can happen."
--- The Holiday

Why, hello there! Hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas with friends and family... or whatever holiday you may celebrate at this time of year :) While I am very close to my family, I made the very tough decision to not go home (to New Mexico) this year. Related or not, I seem to get violently ill every year after I visit for the holidays. I mean violently ill... in the last five years, I have suffered from the flu and strep throat ('15), bronchitis ('14), and pneumonia ('11 - '13). With my 1/2 marathon coming in 3 weeks and counting, I just couldn't afford to risk it this year. 

I kicked off Christmas week with a 5K run at the gym. I hate treadmill running (as I know you are aware), but this was probably my best indoor 5K to date. I even beat my PR! I figured it was a good start to the week, and decided that I would commit to finishing the long run I had procrastinated doing since last Saturday. Although my brother was coming to spend the holiday with me in California, I still wanted to commit to a couple of runs so as to not lose motivation. I was doing well... I didn't want to lose it.

Somewhat serendipitously, my friend Janelle posted details about a Christmas eve 5K occurring in town that seemed to be perfect. Not only was it a good way to give back to our community, but it would also be a great way for me to see my friend and catch up with her while she is in town. Our not-quite-5K race was great! She's done a bunch of the Disney 1/2 marathons, so she gave me a lot of helpful advice and helped quell my nerves. She and I were also able to catch up on one another's lives, which was nice since I hadn't seen her in a couple of years (she lives in Denver). The miles flew by, and I felt great after. I decided to spend the remainder of my day being active... racking up another 3.5 miles of walking with my dog, and doing another 2 mile run at the gym. It was a very active day!

I planned to get my long run done on Christmas day. I figured nothing would be open anyway, so why not use the time to get those miles in on an empty trail? I felt so much better prepared for this run after talking to Janelle. I taped my knee, packed my mid-run fuel packs (I tried Clif Bars and Shot Bloks and Gu... Shot Bloks are my new friend!), and made sure to eat in advance of my run. When I tried running more than 8 miles in the past, my legs and feet would be in tremendous pain afterwards. And this time? No pain! Woohoo! Although my Nike Plus app only recorded 9.06 of my 11 mile run, I actually finished the day with 13.6 miles in total when you added in my walks with my dog. Not to shabby for a holiday!

I took yesterday off, meaning I only walked my dog and didn't do any running at all. While I wasn't in pain, I know myself well enough to know that I can't push it the day after. I feel so much better prepared for my long New Year's run with my friend Shika later this week. So... what have I learned?
  • I can't run on a completely empty stomach. Similarly, I can't run on a full stomach. I need to prepare to eat a large snack (not meal) approximately 2 hours before running. 
  • I need to fuel mid-run. Actually, I think I need to refuel at least twice for the 1/2 marathon. 4 miles seems to be where I need it. Shot Bloks have been my favorite so far, but I have to remind myself to drink water after. What do you do?
  • Water is your friend. Ph-balanced water is my best friend. I like Gatorade well enough, but the sugar brings me down. Water with electrolytes does the same job, and doesn't give me that sugar rush (and fall) that hurts my run at the end. My favorite is Core Water, but there are a lot of brands out there - have you tried any?
  • Stretching, stretching, stretching!
This is my last week of long runs before I start tapering next week. I'm still nervous, yes, but I feel a lot better prepared than I did before this week. A big thank you to Janelle for the pep talk on Christmas eve! I can't wait to see my friends (and make new ones) at the race in three weeks. Away we go!



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Thankful Thirty

"Be happy while you are living, for you're a long time dead." - Scottish Proverb

It recently occurred to me that I should have written about my Thankful Thirty Trot... a Facebook challenge I opened up to my friends on Facebook in honor of Thanksgiving. I put together this event for two reasons: 1) to motivate me to continue to train during my second busiest month of the year, and 2) to motivate my friends and family to make healthier choices during the calorie-heavy holiday season. 

So what was the Thankful Thirty Trot? This was a virtual race of sorts to motivate participants to move continuously at least one mile per day, with a goal of hitting 30 miles by Thanksgiving. The rules were simple - KEEP MOVING, and motivate others. You could measure the distance however you pleased. You could walk, run, bike, dance, skip, or swim the miles. You could track your miles/steps using Fitbit, or you could estimate it using whatever other tools or know-how you had handy. You could update the group every day, once a week, or once during the entire event. Pretty easy, right?

I had 23 people join the event shortly after I posted it, but it stayed silent. Most of those that had accepted are already training for races or other events, or generally lead pretty active lifestyles... but no one posted anything. I guess I didn't really know what I was expecting. But then... a couple of people started posting their miles. Shortly thereafter, others began to chime in. Ever so slowly, a community developed... people who have no other connection to one another in life were cheering each other's accomplishments. Pictures were posted of trails and sweaty selfies. Personal records were smashed. Friends were made. It was a lot of fun!

Out of the 23 people who joined the challenge, 18 people regularly updated the group on their progress. Another 15 people didn't join the challenge or post their results, but commented supportive remarks or "likes" on other people's posts (I'm sure they were popping up on everyone's feed by that point). The participants included both men and women, ages 6 to 59. We had multiple long run finishes, including 1 Urban Dare winner in Houston (woohoo, Emily!), multiple 10K runners (4 officially participating in 10K races; 7 others finishing 10K+ distance runs), three Turkey Trotters, and a Half Marathon Finisher. In total, the group racked up over 763 walking and running miles!!!

When I set up the event, I made my goal to finish 70 miles before Thanksgiving. Without counting incidental steps as miles and only counting continuous miles... I ended the challenge with 43.6 running miles and 66.39 walking miles! Just one short year ago, finishing a one mile run would have been a challenge. Sure, I could walk far... but 5 or more miles? No way! What a year it has been, my friends! 

While I had hoped to end my challenge with a bang, I only got 5 miles in during my Thanksgiving visit back home in northern New Mexico. It was not for nothing, however... I used those 5 miles to encourage my nieces to work out with me. Both my oldest and youngest niece ran a little over a mile with me on Thanksgiving eve... 

and my youngest niece walked 2 miles with my brother and me after Thanksgiving dinner the following day!

On Friday, I convinced my mother, sister, and nieces to join me for another walk along the river near the ruins in my hometown. On Saturday, we did a very short, very cold, and very snowy mini hike! While our family did a lot of outdoor activities when I was a kid, it had been years since I could remember such an active holiday for us. I was elated! My favorite part? Both nieces said they had fun and that they would be asking to do more walks with my mom and sisters in the future. Hurray!

Given the tremendous success of this group, I toyed a great deal with the idea of creating a similar challenge to get us through the December holiday season. After much thoughtful deliberation, however, I decided to not go through with it. While November was a very busy month, December was scheduled to be even busier and I knew I just would not have time to moderate a group like this again. I've had several participants reach out to me and say how much they missed the community however... maybe I should start it up again in the new year?

I realize that we don't have a huge following for this blog, but I'm toying with the idea of linking this to a Facebook page so that readers could join a fitness community if they were so inclined. I've enjoyed a tremendous community of like-minded people on Instagram, but it's discouraging to find that some only reach out to you to sell you their products. I want this to be a solicitation-free zone. Thoughts?

Regardless, I think I will be setting up some kind of challenge in the new year. If you'd like to be included, drop me a line and let me know. We'd love to have you! I have two more long runs before my half marathon in four weeks... wish me luck. I've been avoiding this last one - hopefully I can motivate myself to finish it tomorrow. 

I start vacation on Wednesday, so hopefully I'll have more time to update this thing while I'm off. (PS - NATASHA! Where are you?). Thanks for sticking with me. If I don't post before then, have a safe, happy, healthy, and fit holiday! Merry Christmas!



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

She's a brick... (Just leave it at that)

"People who avoid the brick walls -- 
all power to ya but we all have to hit them sometimes in order to push through to the next level." -- Jennifer Aniston

At this point, I've talked ad nauseam about my upcoming half marathon. I know a lot of you are sick of hearing about it. I get it - I'm sick of thinking about it myself. It shouldn't be a big deal. Plenty of people have told me how "chill" the RunDisney races are - several friends have walked them! And I've done a half marathon before (12 years ago... when I weighed less than 130 lbs and ran an average of 4-6 miles/day). I'm doing everything right, supposedly... I'm training pretty regularly, and I never skip my long runs. So why am I freaking out?

My first "long" run in this training program was just over 6 miles. I completed the run the week before my birthday. The picture above says 6.10, but it was actually 6.5 - my phone died as I was running back to my car to cool down and stretch. This was the longest I had ran in over 12 years, and I couldn't believe I finished it. It wasn't the easiest run, but it wasn't the hardest. It definitely proved to me that I could conquer my 10K race in January... shame I scheduled a half marathon before it!

My next scheduled long run was supposed to be 7.5 miles, but I did just over 8. This was my favorite run to date. I felt good throughout my run, paced myself (and kept below the race pace that I am aiming to keep), and wasn't sore the next day. Sure, I was tired, but that's to be expected. Could 8 miles be my sweet spot?

Just two weeks after my favorite run, I was scheduled to complete a 9 mile long run. I recently discovered Hogwarts Running Club, and committed to dedicating this run as a virtual race with a friend from out of town. We picked the Platform 9 3/4K, which is roughly 6.05 miles. I knew my 9 mile run would be far in excess of the requirements, so I decided to push myself and see if I could best my previous pacing. While I met my pace and distance goal, I certainly paid for it. My feet were k-i-l-l-i-n-g me after I finished. I could hardly walk, nearly stumbling as I tried to make it from my car to my house (about 5 feet) when I returned home. Does this mean I can't do further than 9 miles? Do I need to stop? Is this my brick wall? 

As most idiots do, I turned to Dr. Google for answers. Plantar Fasciitis, maybe? No, that's not it. I never have heel pain, and I'm good about making sure any shoe I run in has good arch support. Lactic acid buildup? Possibly. I have a bad habit of not doing much of a cool down walk - I walk a bit, stretch a lot, and jump in the car to go home. I also don't have the best race nutrition. Bad shoes? Definitely possible. Despite only having my shoes since August, I had put approximately 300 miles on them. They felt fine when I walked, however, so I didn't worry about it. I checked out the tread and insole after my 9 miler, however, and was shocked to find that the mid foot was nearly worn through!

Shortly after doing my unscientific research, I headed to my local running store to be re-fitted for a new shoe. A friend recommended the Hoka One One, so I decided to try it since my foot pain was so severe. The Hoka was a dream in the store! So cushy and soft! Surely this, in addition to ensuring that I do a proper cool down and adding magnesium and potassium to my diet, would be my solution... right?

The week after my 9 mile run was Thanksgiving. I headed home to New Mexico to visit my family, and took a couple of my nieces out for a short run to test out the new kicks. The results were disastrous. Not only did the shoe not provide enough stability support, but the Hoka's felt like I was running with boxes tied to my feet. I sadly retired them until I returned to California, committing to doing two more runs (one long, one short) before I would waive the white flag and return them to the store. 

I took my arch support insoles out of my old shoes to put them in the Hoka's. My next short run was better, but oh-so-slow. I was so frustrated. Gone was my foot pain, but hello knee pain! I injured my knee twice in my twenties, and now have DJD, but my knee has given me surprisingly little difficulty since I started running in June. Ugh - is this worth it?

Sunday morning, I hit the trail in the Hoka's to attempt a minimum 10 mile run. I made sure to have my insoles in the shoes before leaving, and also taped up my knee with pretty-in-pink KT tape. Let's see if this works! The first two miles were miserable. The shoe's cushion made it feel like I was running on a mattress, and it seemed like an eternity before I hit the 5K mark. By mile 5, I really wanted to give up. My knee pain was manageable (dull but present) but my ankles were in horrible pain. I attempted to do my run/walk intervals at various points on the run, but I just couldn't find a stride/gait that didn't make me want to cut my feet off at the ankle bone. 

I finished my 10 mile "run" with my slowest pace to date (since I started tracking in August). Shoot - who am I kidding? I walked far more than I ran. The foot pain was less severe but still present (thanks to proper hydration and overly cushioned shoes, possibly?), but my knee was starting to throb for the first time since I started running and my ankles were burning. I was miserable. 

I attempted every trick in the book to relieve the pain - an Epson salt bath with ice, tennis ball stretches, foam rolling, stretching, etc. After messing around with these for a few hours, I decided to head promptly back to my running store to exchange the shoes. Hoka One One - you're so done done. The gal at the running store kept insisting that I move from Asics to Brooks, but the Brooks felt too similar to the Hokas for me to consider them. I tried about 5 pairs of shoes before returning to my tried and true Asics. I'm hoping this works out. 

No long runs for this girl this week... My week will consist of two or three short runs (2-3 miles) and one a bit longer (5-7 miles). I tried the new shoes on the treadmill tonight. I loathe treadmill running, but it's getting too dark too early to do otherwise. The shoes worked out pretty well overall, but I think I'll have to play with the laces a bit to get the right fit. So hoping that my outdoor runs fare better. 

Here's to a better finish to the last month of the year. Let's break down those brick walls, and show life we mean business! I can't believe we're here. It's been exactly a year since I started this more consistent fitness journey, and I'm proud to say I've mostly done it. I am so encouraged by the others who have joined me in this effort. It's great to see so many people committing to healthier lifestyles! 

Well, I better hit the hay if I'm going to be productive at all the rest of this week. Hope you have a great week too!



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Easy Does It

I tend to include quotes in my writing, both here on this blog and periodically at work. Why? Because sometimes you read a quote so good that it's worth sharing! And sometimes others write the words or thoughts that you only wish you could so eloquently say. I try to keep the quotes I share brief, but this one was so good, and so relevant, that it had to be shared here:

"Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permits us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted; no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us." -- Maya Angelou

Like most people, I have a tendency to overdo it. Training is no different - I typically apply an "all or nothing" mentality which usually leads to me being disappointed when I fail and giving up before I even begin. Ugh. Surprisingly, I have not given up in 2015. I have had my share of setbacks and disappointments, mind you, but I've used them to motivate me to continue and resume my training. It's been a pretty stellar fitness year so far, but there is still one area that I can improve...

REST! Yes, I said rest! When I began training this summer, I read several blogs and articles regarding half marathon training. Every-single-one included only 3-4 running days per week; most included 3 running days and 1 walking day. And they all included at least one "rest" day. Why?

Running is a high impact sport. Without proper training, you can easily injure yourself. I should know - my running addiction in college led to two knee injuries and multiple muscle sprains. There are multiple benefits to including rest days to your training schedule, though, including:
  • Joint Recovery: All that pounding your joints take when you run isn't good in the long run. A rest day helps reduce inflammation, allowing your body to repair itself while preventing stress fractures and joint degeneration.
  • Muscle Recovery: Like your joints, your muscles tend to work overtime when you run, breaking down muscle fibers and swelling. Allowing your muscles a day or two of rest during the week gives them time to repair the muscle fibers torn while exercising. When your muscles repair themselves, they become stronger! Whether you're lifting weights or running, these are the types of gains you want to see. Stronger muscles mean better/more efficient running. Don't neglect this!
  • Overtraining: Yes, it's possible that too much running or strength training is not a good thing. Overtraining causes all sorts of stress on your body - it can cause sleeplessness, irritability, dehydration... not to mention it puts you at risk of injury (shin splints, stress fractures, etc). Your body is a machine, but it's one that requires proper maintenance. Give it a break, and it will last you a long time.
  • Exercise Efficiency: This sort of goes hand-in-hand with overtraining - if you're body doesn't get to recover, it simply won't perform at a high or higher level of performance the next day. It sounds silly, but you do make gains with recovery. Want to run faster or longer? Give your body a break. Your body will thank you!
So... does rest mean lazy? Nope! Rest days don't have to mean that you just lay on the couch eating ice cream while watching bad Lifetime movies (although you totally could). Resting simply means that you give the parts of the body you used the most the day before a break. I like to do my strength training on my running rest days, and keep my runs between my strength training. And on Sundays? I eliminate both, and stick to walking my dog. How you use your rest days is up to you - just make sure to give yourself that recovery time.

When you have a history of giving up easily, or making excuses when you should be making gains, it's easy to confuse rest with laziness. It's also difficult (for me, at least) to go back to a routine if I take a few days off from it. To help keep me on track, I've set reminders on my calendar at work and my calendar on my phone to remind me of what I plan to accomplish on any given day from an exercise perspective. What do you do to keep you on track? And how do you make sure to give your body a rest, without losing your gains? 

Tomorrow is my "rest day," aka my day back in the gym for strength training. Friday is long run day! Woot! (maybe...) Hope each of you continues to have a happy and healthy week. Onward and upward.



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What a long, strange trip it's been... (Hello, 36)

"You're sick of hangin' around and you'd like to travel,
Get tired of travelin' and you want to settle down...
I guess they can't revoke your soul for tryin'
Get out of the door and light out and look all around..." 
--- Grateful Dead

Hello, friends! Sorry it's been so long since I've kept in touch. I've had an insanely busy October, but it's almost over! Woohoo? Nah... I love October. It's actually my favorite month of the year - and no, not because it contains my birthday. My birthday is actually my least favorite part of the entire month. For me, October means cooler weather, pumpkin everything, green chile stew, and... if I'm lucky... hot air balloons in Albuquerque (but that hasn't happened in years for me). 

This October has literally flown by, so much so that by October 12th I barely realized that we were almost mid-month. Where did the rest of the month go?! Early October travel plans had set back my half-marathon training a bit - I missed several scheduled runs, and my strength training was non-existent. I was brainstorming ideas of how to kickstart my training program again, when I had an idea... why not challenge myself to complete 36 miles of running before my 36th birthday? I had twelve days... I could do it! Right? 

To help keep me accountable for this challenge, I created a Facebook event for the occasion, and invited several runners I know to participate if they were so inclined. While only about 1/2 of the people I invited to participate actually joined, even fewer actively participated in the challenge. No matter... the few that did gave me just the motivation I needed to make sure I got my runs in. I finished a slow 1.5 miles on the first day, but I completed a much faster 2 miler (above) on Day 2. 

I've been experimenting with different running apps on my iPhone for a while, having been committed to the "MapMy..." and "Couch2..." apps until fairly recently. After my Dodger 5K in September, I noticed that several of my friends used the Nike+ Running app. In addition to being a more stylish, sleeker format, the Nike+ app also appears to be more accurate too. While this hit my ego a bit (goodbye, 11 min/miles!), it has proven to be a better training tool for me so I know what I need to work on.

Fridays are scheduled to be my rest day... but those tend to be my best performing days, so I might be making adjustments. Friday night of Week One was no exception, so I decided to set out and run a minimum of 3 miles. My goal was to complete this run as quick as possible. Much to my surprise, I beat my own personal record that evening! Even better? I finished the equivalent of a 5K at a time much faster than my Dodger 5K! Woohoo!

I had planned to hang out with my friend on Saturday, but Friday night's run left me wanting more. Being the good sport she is, my friend agreed to allow our Saturday hang out become a fit hang out... I asked her to wear her running shoes. She hates hanging out in her running shoes, but she obliged. Shortly after picking her up, we headed to the Lake Hollywood Reservoir for a nice, long walk... the walk around the reservoir tops at just over 3.5 miles, but we walked a total of 4 miles. And we didn't stop there! Between walking around downtown (to lunch at Bottega Louie and to FIDM), walking around MacArthur Park to see The Spheres, walking to our coffee break on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, and walking through Descanso Gardens to check out The Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns, my friend and I accumulated over 9 miles of walking! Whew!

The following week was more of a struggle. I was sick on Monday (goodbye, miles), and struggled to leave work early enough to fit in my runs on Tuesday/Thursday before picking up my dog. Ugh! Tuesday was better than Thursday, however, and I managed to etch out enough time before it got dark to get in a 2.25 slow run. Yes, it was slow... but at least I was moving!

As I neared Friday, I worried that I was not going to hit my 36 mile target. I was so disappointed. Had I stuck to my training schedule, 36 miles would have been no problem! Stupid illness on Monday. It really ruined everything. I glanced at my training schedule on Thursday night and discovered that it called for a 6 mile run on my birthday. Not wanting to spend my birthday morning running, I decided to move the run up to Friday... hoping and praying that I could finish it...

And I did!!! My run ended up being just over 6.5 miles in total (Nike only captured 6.1 miles before my phone died). I didn't break any personal records with this run as far as speed goes... but my speed stayed within the pace parameters set by Run Disney for my half-marathon in January! And while I could sit here and beat myself up for not pushing myself to run faster/better, I have decided to concentrate on the positive. Did I walk sometimes? Sure... but I still managed to keep my target pace. Did it hurt? Heck yeah! But I wasn't sore the next day, or the day after that. Winning!

While I'm disappointed, I have to remind myself that I am the same girl who struggled to finish a 5k fun run (that I mostly walked) just two years ago... the same girl who couldn't run a full mile at the beginning of the year. I knew I was out of shape, but I was in serious denial about just how out of shape I was. I cannot believe how far I've come in the last 12 months. And while I have a long, long way to go, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my accomplishments so far. Without further adieu, here are my top 12 fitness accomplishments from the last 12 months leading up to my 36th birthday:
  • Completed a 30 day strength training challenge during the 2015 holiday season
  • Started a fitness blog with one of my best friends!
  • Had a fit staycation with said best friend during her visit to CA in April
  • Hiked 6.5 miles to the Hollywood sign and back (way harder than I expected it to be)
  • Signed up for a half marathon (what was I thinking?)
  • Hiked 3 miles through Muir Woods... and then some! (thank goodness Emily didn't kill me)
  • Ran a 5K at home... in 90 degree heat! And didn't die!
  • Ran the Dodger 5K
  • Lost 40+ pounds
  • Dropped 4 dress sizes (what gives? shouldn't I be, like, way skinnier? LOL)
  • Ran over 36 miles in 12 days (39.8 miles, to be exact!)
  • Ran 6.5 miles... keeping my time on or under my target pace... woohoo!
The last twelve months have been a long, strange trip... I've experienced a ton of new adventures (hello, Europe!), had a successful year at work, made lots of new friends... and have finally decided to spend just as much time on me as I spend on everyone else in my life. Will I still occasionally work the 12-14 hour day? Probably. Might I swing by McDonalds for a quick bite on the way home? Um... yeah. But this year has taught me that those things are ok in moderation. I've also learned that fitness can't be a passing fad, or something I pick up "occasionally" whenever it's convenient. Food is great, but I need to demonstrate better discipline. I'm getting older, and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is only going to get harder before it gets easier. I'm so glad you are bearing with me on this journey. You have no idea how motivating your support has been to me!

A big shout out and thank you to the girls who helped track their miles for my 36 by 36 challenge, including Natasha, Anushika, Maggie, Jacqueline, Lisa, and Janie. And many thanks to those friends, family members, and coworkers who have continued to encourage and support my efforts. I'm lucky to have such great people in my life! 

And so starts my journey as a 36 year old. Oy! I better head off to bed... us old girls need all the beauty rest we can get!



Saturday, October 3, 2015

Week 2, Phase 2... (Or... things I should have already been doing)

"Abs are made in the kitchen; not in the gym."

"You can't out-exercise a bad diet."

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

"Eat to live; don't live to eat."

When one starts working out more regularly than they may have done in the recent past, people come out of the woodwork with all sorts of well-meaning advice. Eat more protein. Stay away from carbs. Meal planning is key! I get it - I really do! You can't expect your health to wholly improve if you don't get your fitness and your diet in check. But... 

I hate cooking. Like, so much. I'm not a bad cook at all - some might even say my food is more than edible! Tasty even! But the thought of doing meal prep... please, just kill me. I will occasionally go through a phase where I cook more than I don't. It's not that I eat out all the time; I just prefer to buy pre made meals so I can move on with my day. And don't even get me started about post-cooking cleanup. Blech. But I will cook from time to time - it surprises even me!

I have a breakfast routine that I'm fairly comfortable with. I usually start with a mile walk with my neighbor and my pup, get ready for work, and usually eat either a cup of greek yogurt with chia seeds or a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks (Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon for the win!).  Lunch is where I always struggle. I used to bring my lunch to work, and eat with colleagues in our break room. That got old. When you work as much overtime as I typically do, you need to get away from your desk. So... I eat out almost every day. I try to make healthy choices, but my stomach usually beats my brain. Dinner is hit or miss - I either eat a bowl of cereal or soup, or I grab a burrito bowl from El Pollo Loco or a local burrito joint. It seems healthy in my head? Suffice it to say I don't eat as well as I could. 

I have talked to several friends in health/fitness careers, and most said that my breakfast routine was ok. I get protein, which is great! But I need to cut the sugar.... a lot. Yes, I may get a skinny vanilla latte, but those morning Sprites? Not ok. Eating lunch is a good thing, but do I have to have pizza? Probably not. And I have GOT to start cooking dinner. The occasionally nuked meal is ok... but I need to cook some of those fresh foods I buy sometimes. 

I have used both MyFitnessPal and WeightWatchers in the past, with varying results. WeightWatchers is good in theory, but I have a hard time believing that I can eat all the veggies I want and not have to worry about the outcome. (I love veggies... tell me that they don't count, and I can easily eat a couple of bell peppers in a sitting). I know veggies are good for you, but I'm a firm believer that weight control is a calories in/calories out game. MyFitnessPal has always been better to me. Quite honestly, I'm not sure why I stopped using it this summer. So starting Monday, I'm loading it back on my iPhone. Let's see how this works out.

My goal is, was, and will always be fitness and health over being thin and pretty. I was thin once... and I wasn't exactly healthy. I'm too old to think I'll ever be the next J-Lo or Katy Perry anyway, and I've had these curves of mine so long that I've kinda gotten used to them. So... fitness and health it is! And if my clothes start fitting a little better in the process? Awesome. 

How do you keep your diet in check? Do you do anything differently when you're training for a competition or marathon? I'd love to hear your fitness and health tips... so long as they don't include meal prep. I'm afraid I'll never be that girl, my friends. But I am more than willing to do healthy swaps and cook more often. Maybe I'll share a recipe or two on here? :)

Until next time... cheers!


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Running on Empty

"If one could run without getting tired, I don't think one would often want to do anything else." 
-- C.S. Lewis

The last 9 months have been arguably some of the busiest months in my lifetime. I've been busier in the past, yes... but this is probably the busiest I've been in both my work life and personal life at the same time. I'm not good at this whole work-life balancing act. I tend to focus all of my energy into one or the other (usually work/school), but in an effort to give more to my personal life, I've just jammed in more personal activities without really reducing or better managing my work. There are a few reasons for this, mind you, but I have been determined to give my personal life more attention regardless.

I really started to concentrate on giving my personal life more attention last fall, mostly by way of spending less of my days off at work and hanging out with friends more. Small wins. By November, I had begun more steadily incorporating exercise into this new routine, albeit on a less regular schedule. Several circumstances in December drove me to focus even more attention to exercise - as a way of not only improving my health, but also reducing the stress that was dramatically increasing both at home and at work. Since then, I have mostly kept to this workout routine, starting more heavily focused on strength training at first and more recently focusing on cardio.

As you know, I decided that I wanted to go back into running more seriously earlier this summer. I used to run regularly in college, and missed it terribly. I know that the activity is not the best for someone with a history of back and knee issues, but cycling doesn't really do it for me and I cannot stand the elliptical. So, I started run/walk intervals in May, steadily building up to a run by June... and finishing my first 3 mile run in August. I was stoked! 

As you also know, a series of setbacks (excuses) have brought me to where I am today. A combination of heat and smoke derailed my running efforts in late August, and a disappointing finish at the Dodger 5K demotivated me tremendously. My morning miles slowed down, my strength training slowed down... I just couldn't find my mojo! To top it off, my work projects have become insanely busy, and I often find that I barely have the energy to walk my dog, let alone run a few miles after work every day. I've been just so dang tired! 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I co-chaired and hosted an industry conference in California for the last half of last week. Our hotel was less than a mile to Venice Beach, and I committed to myself that I would at least walk to same every morning before our conference began. AND... I DID IT! The first morning, I ran to the beach, grabbed a coffee, walked a mile drinking it, and then ran back just in time to kick off the conference. The next day, I did it again... this time skipping coffee and just completing the run. Success! Mojo found! And just in time... I only have 16 weeks until my half marathon. Eek!

I know that not everyone has the luxury of finding themselves at a hotel near a beach for a few days to find their mojo... Frankly, I often pinch myself that I am even given such opportunities! But I do think it is important for people to find or recognize their happy place. Is there a park near your house that you enjoy visiting for a sunset stroll? Do you find yourself motivated by certain friends or people? Perhaps you enjoy a certain class, or a specific workout song? It took me visiting the beach to remember why I love running, and why I shouldn't give up. What will it take to remind you of why you are working towards a goal? How will you find your mojo?

I officially started the 1/2 marathon training I mentioned in my blog that I posted last week on Sunday, even though I unofficially got back to my strength training and cardio routine last Tuesday. Today was a 2 mile run/walk routine, which I unfortunately broke out into a mile this morning and a mile tonight. The bad thing with being busy is that you must find creative ways to fit in the things you want to do between the things you have to do. I'm hoping tomorrow will be better. I have cross-training tomorrow, another 2 mile run/walk Thursday, a rest day on Friday, and a 3 mile run on Saturday. Will I accomplish these things? I certainly hope so! But even if I end up walking more than I run, I am determined to finish. My energy may not be there, but perhaps the exercise will help with that too.

I know this has been a long, meandering post... I appreciate you bearing with me. When Natasha and I started this thing, we promised to show you our trials as much as our successes! I just hope that going forward you see more of our successes and less of my whiny posts :) While I'm sure they're less than entertaining, I certainly appreciate the forum to vent. Thank you all for continuing to be so encouraging! I have the greatest friends!



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday: Baby Got Back (Pain)

"One good thing about music: when it hits, you feel no pain." -- Bob Marley

Last week was not a good week for me from an exercise/health and wellness perspective. I spent the early part of last week sick with an upper respiratory thing, got very little sleep midweek due to a scare at my house, and majorly messed up my back somehow at the end of the week, essentially ruining my weekend plans. UGH! This coming off of a poor performance at my Dodger 5K last Sunday too... such a bummer! 

When I started last week, I was incredibly motivated to hit my marathon training with gusto. I had modified a Jeff Galloway training program I found thanks to RunDisney to incorporate lessons learned from another 1/2 marathon training program I read about on Women's Running Magazine's website. I am a little more partial to the Women's Running program as it incorporates strength and cross training, but both programs have received excellent reviews. After much deliberation, I wrote my own 16 week program utilizing philosophies from both programs, and was excited to try it. I did pretty good all week until Thursday, a casualty of my sleepless night the night before. But when Friday rolled around... it went downhill pretty quick.

I'm not sure if it was that I was kind of fighting some illness, if I was training too hard, or if I simply slept in a weird position... but whatever the case, I woke up on Friday feeling pretty beat up. As the day dragged on, I was experiencing ever increasing upper back pain, so much so that I was near tears at lunchtime. Yikes! A couple of Advil and two meetings later, I did something I never do... I left work early and tried to get some rest. I spent the rest of the day alternating between light walks in my neighborhood and sleeping while sitting up. It was SO much fun (... not).

Which brings us to Monday... I type this now with the minty smell of Icy/Hot burning my nostrils and sleep heavy on my eyelids. Yes, my back is still sore. While it has improved day by day, I can't believe I'm sitting here on my couch on Monday still annoyed by the pain. Sigh. I did finally return to the gym today, but I haven't ran in almost a week. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel up to it again.  Maybe. I'm so mad that this happened - I need every single training day I can get! I'll be at the beach for a conference for the rest of the week, so I intend on taking advantage of the area and get some good runs in while I'm there. Here's hoping my back holds up! 

Since most of you won't read this until Tuesday anyway, I figured I would leave this post with my Ten Tunes for your day. Music is my favorite mood booster, and is often the only thing that cheers me up more than strength training in the gym these days. Today was an especially frustrating day at work, so I was oh-so-glad to have good tunes and heavy weights to carry me through the end of the day. Without further adieu, here are your Ten Tunes for this week. These are a bit beach inspired as I definitely have the beach on my brain for my week ahead. Enjoy!
  1. Bob Marley - "Trenchtown"
  2. 311 - "Love Song"
  3. Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat - "Lucky"
  4. Mamas & The Papas - "California Dreamin'"
  5. Rihanna - "Pon de Replay"
  6. The Beatles - "Here Comes The Sun"
  7. Ziggy Marley - "Drive"
  8. Jack Johnson - "If I Had Eyes"
  9. Weezer - "Surf Wax America"
  10. Colbie Caillat - "Bubbly"
PS - A big thank you to so many of you who have reached out to me in person and via Facebook with helpful suggestions on how to reduce my back pain. I think it was a combination of these recommendations that have me feeling so much better today! While I intend to take the strength training easy for the rest of the week (I'll be doing it - I just might not go as hard as it as I often want to do), I definitely plan on getting some miles on my feet while I'm working from the beach. Hope each of you has a happy and healthy week too!



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ten Tunes Day (LA Dodger 5K Edition)

I don't know - could've been a lame jogger maybe,
Or someone just about to do the freeway strangler baby,
Shopping car pusher, or maybe someone groovie...
One thing's for sure - he isn't starring in the movies...
'Cause he's walking in L.A.
Walking in L.A., nobody walks in L.A. 
---- Missing Persons

Hey friends! Hello again from your friendly Californian blogger! For this week's Ten Tunes Tuesday (this was a thing... should I bring it back? Do you hate it? Hmm)... Anyway, for this week's Ten Tunes Tuesday, I thought I'd put together a list of songs about Los Angeles (or songs that simply remind me of Los Angeles). Why, you ask? Well, I thought it would be fitting considering I just finished my first 5K of 2015 over the weekend benefitting the Los Angeles Dodger Foundation. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven't been doing much by way of racing lately. I did a few 5Ks when I first moved to California in 2011/2012, but I think it's been well over a year since I last participated in one. I've been steadily increasing my runs over the summer, with the longest continuous one lasting right at 4 miles about a week ago. I thought I was prepared, so much so that I even warned my 5K buddy that I intended to run most of Sunday's race. But did I? Nooooooo. And while I could sit here and list a million reasons excuses for that, I won't. What I will say is that I did run some of it. I also learned a lot about what I need to work on as far as training goes before my half marathon in January. I definitely need to find a trail that incorporates more hills. I also really need to strengthen my core - I think part of my problem on Sunday had to do with my weak core, and that's probably because I've increased my cardio but haven't been maintaining my strength training lately. All said... I had a great day with a very good friend. We finished the race, got a really cool medal, and got to walk around the field of Dodger Stadium. Winning!

Without further adieu, here are my Ten Tunes for this Tuesday night:
  1. Missing Persons - "Walking in LA"
  2. Decemberists - "Los Angeles, I'm Yours"
  3. 2Pac - "To Live and Die in LA"
  4. Randy Newman - "I Love LA"
  5. Guns N' Roses - "Welcome to the Jungle"
  6. The Doors - "LA Woman"
  7. Ice Cube - "It Was A Good Day"
  8. Weezer - "Beverly Hills"
  9. America - "Ventura Highway"
  10. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Under the Bridge" <-- admittedly not uplifting, but sometimes such songs pair great with a good long hike too!

Did I miss any of your favorites? (I know, I know... some of you don't have the same adoration as I do for the fair City of Angels...). Anyway, I'm going to close this with a post-race picture of my friend and I at Sunday's 5k. She and I are looking for another one to do between now and the end of the year. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Otherwise... Stay tuned!

Until next time, my friends. Cheers, and GO BLUE!


Monday, September 14, 2015

NOTHING tastes better?

So, as part of my 90 day fitness challenge, I also have access to an online support area via Facebook.  I didn't find out about the online support until about 60 days into the challenge (which appears to have been more of a blessing than a curse).  As a result, when I found it I was glad that I would have some people to commiserate with.  Well, that was not really the case.  For the most part it's just people posting selfies of their ripped bodies.  I'm not a hater, but I was a little more interested in finding people who are in the same boat that I am (tired of egg whites and ready for ice cream). 

I made a ranting post about how I was about to eat everything that wasn't nailed down and asked for support.  The majority of the commentary was supportive, but one comment stuck out from the rest.  "Nothing tastes as good as being fit feels."  Seriously?!?!  Never mind the fact that this is the most cliche cliche imaginable, but for some reason I found it to be very insulting.  Nothing tastes better?  I immediately starting thinking about some statistics that I heard about how 60+ percent of this country is over weight and nearly a third are obese.  Nothing?  Now I have been thin before and here is a (limited) list of things that taste better than being thin feels:

Green chile chicken enchiladas
Hot funnel cake with powdered sugar and cinnamon
Duck Donuts
Hot fudge sundaes
Cakes/Pies/Chocolate anything. 

I also got "eat to live, don't live to eat."  As a native(ish) New Mexican, this is nearly impossible.  Maybe it's possible over here in bland city U.S.A. AKA the east coast, but I can think of something mouth watering to eat in New Mexico every day of the week (carne adovada anyone).  Maybe I'm just blessed to be surrounded by people who like me just the way I am, whatever that is at the moment, and the incentive to be extra slim just isn't there.  Yep, that's it.  One more treat and back to the gym. :)


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hot in Herre

Happy Tuesday, y'all! I hope everyone was able to have a good holiday weekend. My weekend was jam-packed, but it was fun. With my first 5K of the year coming up next weekend (yes, in September... I know...), I knew I had to get on board and start running with more gusto. I had committed to doing at least 1-2 miles/day throughout the summer, but with a 3+ mile run this month and a 1/2 marathon in 4 months and counting, I can't afford to slack off now. 

I had made plans to spend Saturday in Hollywood with friends, so I didn't make a huge effort on Saturday to get much running in. I did my morning walks with my neighbor, and got a short mile jog in, but I really didn't count any of that as exercise. I did manage to sneak a total of 16K steps in, but it was really a relaxing and fun day.

Sunday was a bit different. I really wanted to hit the trail hard, and boy did I! I kicked off the day with a morning mile with my neighbor and the dogs at 6am. We hit the neighborhood again a few hours later, sneaking another 3/4 of a mile in before I met a friend for brunch. Sometime around 4, I decided to go for a jog. There's a baseball park about a mile from my house, just across the (dry) river to another large and beautiful park. I figured that running from my house to the park pond and back would put me just over 3 miles, which I felt would be pretty good...

Um, yeah... that 3 mile estimate was a little off. Fifty minutes later, my Map My Walk app was advising me that I had hit the 4 mile mark. FOUR MILES! Did I mention that I was foolish enough to attempt this in 90 degree heat? Yeah... not the brightest idea I've ever had. I was a hot, sweaty, and slightly burned mess at the end of it. On the positive side, I maintained a 13 minute/mile pace, so I was pretty happy about that. One final walk with the dog at the end of the day brought my step count to just over 17k steps, and made me the Weekend Warrior champion against my friends on Fitbit :)

After finishing my morning mile with my neighbor and our dogs this morning, I made the wise-ish decision to get my run (read: jog) in on Monday morning instead of the much warmer afternoon. After filling up my water bottle, I slathered on some sunscreen and hit the trail. I started off fairly strong, finishing the first mile right at 13 minutes (I usually get faster after that first mile, so I thought I was pacing great!). But then....

Somewhere between miles 2 and 3 I decided to hop across a patch of grass (where the trail changes from asphalt to concrete). Normally, this would not be something to note, but this time... this time, my foot landed poorly, and I sharply twisted my ankle as a result. I also fell on my knees, which is super embarrassing. Stupid clumsiness. I was so mad at myself.

I was determined to jog out the last few minutes, and I nearly hit the 5k (3.2 mile) mark before I gave up and started limp-walking the rest of the way. My average pace? 14:52. Dang it. On a positive note, I still finished a total of 4 miles, limp or no limp. And I still kept a pace that will let me participate in and finish the Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon in January (although I have to maintain that pace for 13.1 miles, not just 3.18). But that 77 degrees? Truly no better than 90 when there's no shade and no wind. And my ankle? Still hurting somewhat as I type this post, but I think it will be fine by morning. 

I finished the day with one more walk with my neighbor and my pup, putting my total steps for this Labor Day right around 17k. Not shabby for a holiday, especially when I spent a good chunk of my day watching Netflix. Ha! I'm back in the gym tomorrow, so not likely to hit these longer runs like I did over the weekend. Probably a good thing... I don't need to hurt my ankle more than I already did. But on Wednesday? It's on like Donkey Kong, yo!

With all these running posts, I'm wondering... How many of you run, walk, or jog? Is cardio your thing, or do you prefer other aerobic exercise? Do you weight train too? It's interesting how much I've learned (or relearned) on this journey this year. I'm making a TON of mistakes, but it's refreshing to see me go back at it with gusto each time I fail. Making new fitness-focused friends hasn't hurt any, and I hope that it helps inspire some of you too. Just keep telling myself, "I think I can, I think I can." Until next time, my friends...



(PS: Don't get excited that my picture above says that I'm in the top 25%... that's against other walkers, not runners or joggers. I don't see the point of downloading Map My Run since I already have Map My Walk, so I'm just putting up with it. I'm soooo not that impressive yet.) 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fat-bottomed Girls Make Running World Go Round

"You don't encourage people to take care of their body by telling them to hate it." -- Laci Green

photo credit: James Farrell/Women's Running Magazine

My favorite response when people find out that I run (or am trying to run)? "But, and don't take this the wrong way, you don't look like a runner." When I started running in college, I was roughly the same size that I am today. Within two months, I had dropped significant weight and was running an average of 3 miles/day. By the end of my first year at UNM, I was running 3+ miles every weekday morning, another 3+ miles every weeknight, and the occasional long run on the weekend. By this point, I did look like a stereotypical runner with my lean physique but... I wasn't very healthy at all. I survived off of very few calories/day, and actually fainted on a treadmill once. Yikes! 

Two back-to-back knee injuries sidelined my running career for a fairly long stay, but I had tried to pick up running from time to time since I stopped in 2001. For the longest time, my biggest fear returning to it was the fear of another knee injury. In the last few years, however, I've let my physical appearance be my excuse. Despite my years of effectively avoiding bullying (or at least not allowing bullies to affect me much) as a young adult, I let one stupid guy in the gym ruin my love of running as a woman in my late 20s. "Don't break the treadmill, fatty." OUCH. I think I cried later. That comment stung for a very long time. I finally tried running again in 2010, but having to watch myself run in a mirror every day (our gym's treadmills faced a mirror) just made me think of that stupid guy every single time.

Turning 30 a few years ago was the best thing that could have ever happened to me; turning 33 was even better. As a woman in my thirties, I have been able to let go of these negative thoughts started caring less about what I thought people might think of me. Finally, in the summer of 2012, I slowly started running (well, walk/jogging) again. I completed three 5Ks that year (walked one, walk/jogged the other), which was more than I had done in the over 5 years previous. And last December, I ran a for 10 minutes... the longest continuous run that I had done since 2008. It felt amazing! I didn't run fast, and I didn't run far... but it felt good to have my body move for as long as it did. Even better? I couldn't have cared less at how awful, funny, gross, or delightful that I might have looked while I was doing it! (Full disclosure: I was a hot, sweaty mess. It was gross. I don't care!)

I was casually perusing Yahoo's homepage one morning before work when I was delighted by the image I've posted at the beginning of the post. Finally... a runner that looks like me on the cover of a magazine! I have been a fan of fitness magazines for years, but often found their covers disappointing. (Women's Health... I'm looking at you! Why are all your models nearly naked on your covers? This isn't Cosmo!!!) The girl featured on Women's Running Magazine's cover is 18 year old Erica Schenk, a model from California. She's been running since she was a child, and maintains a regular fitness routine. So much for the "typical runner's body," am I right ladies and gents?

It doesn't take a super observant person to notice that runners come in all shapes and sizes. Yes, plenty of runners (especially those crazy distance runners) do have a leaner physique. But plenty of runners come in rounder shapes too. Basset hounds aren't known for being super energetic dogs, but check out Diego with me in the picture above! He can't run very long, but he loves to run with me from time to time too. And no, I don't look cute when I run... but at least I'm doing it. And I enjoy doing it, so why not!

I don't expect everyone reading this to go out and become a runner tomorrow. Running isn't for everyone; frankly, it's pretty hard on your joints and there are plenty of other ways to get your cardio on. The point of this post was to ask each of you to please, please, please not let fear or your perception of your appearance negatively affect your workout. Don't be afraid to start a workout routine just because you don't look like a fitness model. Don't be afraid of the weight rack at the gym... ask someone to show you how to use them, or check out some routines on Youtube for free! Walk, run, bike, dance... just get your body moving! Your heart, your health, and your body will thank you!



Thursday, August 27, 2015

If Everyone Else Jumps, Will You Jump Too?

Have you ever gotten really comfortable with something?  Maybe there was a job, a relationship, something that was fun or made you feel good?  Everyone who knows me well knows that I am NOT a people person.  If you are my friend, then you probably made the first move.  Well, joining my local running group made me a tad more friendly.  I started getting out and (gasp) socializing!  I had a core group of BRFs (best running friends) and for the most part we had similar racing goals and paces (kind of).  And then, IT happened: marathon mania!!!

Why not?  It's only 26.2 miles right?  Everyone is doing it (You know, 10 of the 500 people in my running group).  They said, "Run for the Marines!"  "It will be fun!"  I'm sorry, what???  So I decided that I was going to run a marathon.  In true Natasha form, I immediately decided not to do it, and then to do it again, and then not to, and so on and so on.  I went out for a run and it was agonizing.  Making something that you love to do into something that you have to do is no good!  And by the way, why the f@%$ was I doing this again?

I realized that I was feeling a little left out and trying to hang on to my friends.  I feel like I finally got comfortable and the ground started to shift at my feet.  It highly likely that I will be living somewhere different at this time next year.  Everyone is marathoning or pregnant and I am so happy for them.  Still, I feel a little like the high school senior who's friends are all leaving to go to amazing out of state schools while I work at the local supermarket. 

As it turns out, I don't want to run a marathon.  I have a fitness goals of my own.  I intend to be fully shredded like Serena Williams someday in the very near future, and I am on my way.  So while I may not be down for 17 miles at 4:45 AM, I'm still down for 3-4 @ 6 or a walk and coffee at 9. Oh, and I still fully intend to accessorize to the fullest.  :)


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Run or Die

If you scroll through the Facebook postings from the local chapter of my running group, you may see the following:

"Anyone want to meet up tomorrow morning?  I need at least 9 miles."
"Who's running this weekend?  I need 15, 11 min pace."

These posts always give me a little chuckle.  In this country we tend to get a little to loose with the work need.  "I need this new outfit."  "I need the new Garmin GPS watch."  Do we ever stop to think about what the word need really means?

In real life, most of the people I know are fortunate enough to have food, shelter, and clothing on their back (plus a few extras).  I am so grateful to God for all of it.  Do I really need to run?

I was sitting in front of our hotel with my husband during our recent vacation.  It was early in the morning and I saw about ten people all coming in from their early morning runs.  They were jovial, glistening with sweat, and ready to take on the day (I imagine).  We boarded the bus for our excursion and came to a pause at a stop light.  I saw a couple jogging on the path that runs alongside the main road here in Cancun.  An interesting feeling started to bubble up inside of me:  jealousy!  I was jealous!  I wanted to run and sweat and feel my heart pumping and my feet on the road.  Me, me me!!!  "I NEED to RUN!!!"  It wasn't I should run, could run, will feel guilty if I don't run.  It was the feeling that I must, must, must run!

I always say that I'm retiring from running.  I say that I will bike or swim or find some way to exercise that doesn't wear out my bunions or my knees.  In the end, it always comes back to me and my running shoes hitting the pavement, mile after mile, fast or slow, running or walking.  I need to run! (After I get home and all of the tequila is out of my system of course. :0))

What fitness activity is a must for you?  What do you need???  I can't wait to hear!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday (Dance, Dance)

"Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." -- Voltaire

When life hands you lemons, slice those babies up and make a margarita! Life has a weird way of working out sometimes. Last week was a good week, but a stressful week. I got some of my workouts in while I was away, but I'm still in a funk - I just can't seem to find my groove, and it's just adding to my stress level. What gives?

When I was in college, I had a habit of dancing in my bedroom whenever my mind would be uneasy. I would pick out some good tunes, turn up the music, and just sing and dance until I couldn't feel my legs. If that didn't work, I'd pack up my CDs and go for a long drive to the foothills of the Sandias... getting out to hike for a bit until I could breathe again. I lost this habit when I moved to the gulf coast, and I'm not sure why.  For whatever reason, I found myself dancing again suddenly when The Weekend's song, "Can't Feel My Face" came on my radio while I was cleaning house this weekend. I'm not sure what spurred it - I just let my music play as I danced and cleaned my little heart out. It reminded me of how helpful this habit was in college, so I figured I would employ this stress relieving tactic for the rest of this week too. As an added bonus, my little 30 minute dance session apparently burned 485 calories, so it doubles as a workout too! Score! 

Here are some of the jams I danced to this weekend:
  1. The Weekend - "Can't Feel My Face"
  2. Natalie La Rose - "Somebody"
  3. Nicki Minaj - "The Night Is Still Young"
  4. Skrillex & Diplo -"Where Are Ü Now"
  5. Silentó - "Watch Me"
  6. Tove Lo - "Habits"
  7. Zedd - "I Want You To Know"
  8. Pitbull - "Fun"
  9. Sage the Gemini - "Good Thing"
  10. Prince Royce - "Back It Up"
I'm hoping I can get a better handle on my stress this week. It's hurting my sleep, and that's never good. What tactics do you employ to relieve stress? Do you like to dance like nobody's watching too? I hope your week is filled with more calm than mine! Until we meet again, my friends....



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Goodbye Cardio!

"If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always gotten."

-Tony Robbins

So, most of my friends know that I have been running for almost 20 years.  It's something that I started with my oldest best friend for no reason at all.  There wasn't a whole lot going on in Santa Fe at the time and we were always guaranteed to place because there weren't that many 13 and 14 year old entrants.  Fast forward to today.  I still love to run.  It's mostly because of the endorphins and the stress relief.  Most recently it's because I just enjoy the companionship of my MRTT running buddies.  Also, you can do it anywhere and any time with minimal equipment and preparation.  

But wait a second!  Why the hell do I look exactly the same?  Three miles, or 5 or ten and no change.  WTF?!?!  I've been forced to accept the fact that despite the many benefits of running, muscle sculpting and weight loss are not part of it (for me anyway).  What's the point in hitting that 13.1 if you can't bounce a quarter off your booty? (I haven't actually tried this...yet)

In light of this discovery, I recently joined a weight lifting/figure shaping competition.  It runs for 90 days and to my surprise includes minimal cardio.  I'm back to body weight exercises and good old fashioned heavy lifting.  I didn't expect to enjoy it, but it's not too bad.  Frankly, it's preferable to trying to get in miles with humidity in the 80 and up percentage range.  So farewell to our old friend cardio.  I am on to short runs and HIIT.  

Stay Tuned!


P.S.  This post is dedicated to my daughter Olivia who maintains that I look like Beyonce no matter what even thought she has no idea who that is.  

P.P.S.  If you are looking for a running group try

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday (On the road again... also known as, Becky's never home anymore)

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." -- unknown

Hello, friends! As you can probably already guess, yes... I am on the road once again! I'm back in the San Francisco Bay Area attending a leadership class for work. While I've missed my morning mile already once (more on those in a later blog post), I am happy to report that I kept up my evening strength training and cardio workout. I even managed to get a 3 mile walk in this evening! Woohoo!

I contemplated challenging myself to do a run this evening... I wanted to see if I had improved at all, and figured that the weather this evening was perfect for it. As soon as I laced up my sneakers, however, I decided to take it easy instead. I wanted to actually take my time and get to know my temporary neighborhood in San Ramon. My work commitments have been very stressful over the last 24 hours, so I really just wanted to take it slow, calm down, and relax a bit.

I've taken a number of these "chill out" walks in my adult life, and have found that having soothing accompaning music usually helps prevent me from speed walking and enjoying the feel of the earth under my feet. Tonight's music is just the sort of music I would normally have on my playlist for a walk like today... or any time I just want to slow down, calm down, and relax.
  1. John Mayer - "3X5"
  2. Al Green - "Take Your Time"
  3. Sade - "Mermaid"
  4. Ray LaMontagne - "Let It Be Me"
  5. Sam Smith - "Lay Me Down"
  6. Colbie Caillat - "Droplets"
  7. Smokey Robinson - "Tracks of My Tears"
  8. James Bay - "Let It Go"
  9. Justin Nozuka - "Sweet Lover"
  10. John Legend - "Show Me"
Exercising is great. It can make you feel powerful and strong, challenging you to become a better you. It's also a great tool for days like today... when you need to take a step back, relax, reflect, and frankly... just breathe. This music isn't likely to rev your engine, but I hope you find it (or the idea of it) helpful. While it's great that we try to push ourselves daily in our workout routines, it doesn't hurt to take a day off now and then to just regroup too. Remember... even a slow walk is still better than lounging on the couch too!

Anyway, I'm already up too late and have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. Hopefully I'll get my morning mile in before class! Wish me luck :)



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Expect Success!!!

I recently wrote this on my mirror at home using an old eyeliner pencil.  I pretty much live my life in various states of stress and duress whether there is a reason or not.  During one of my more recent trips to the negative town I started wondering why I was thinking so negatively to begin with.  Why was I sitting around waiting for the next disappointment?  Why hadn't it occurred to me that a more positive outcome was possible and, frankly, more probable?

Today, I am choosing to be a glass half full kind of girl.  What I've realized is that all of the time that I spend around being annoyed, aggravated, frustrated, depressed, and bored could be better spent putting myself in a position to get the results that I'm looking for.
I forced them to exercise with me by promising them Sweet Frog!

Anyhow, I'm still not in any better shape than I was at the time of my last post (physically anyway). Nevertheless, I am going to continue to ignore my husband's mocking of my motivational mirror messages until I reach my goal.  Stay tuned for news of my upcoming fitness adventure.  If you are too curious, you can visit