Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Aching Feet! (Oh, yeah... I went to Spain!)

"I don't know what my path is yet... I'm just walking on it." -- Olivia Newton-John

Hello, my friends! As I mentioned in a blog post a while back, I just went on vacation... to Europe! Not only was it my first trip to Spain and France, but it was my first trip overseas altogether. I was so excited! I was also determined. Though never one to sit around and lounge on vacation, I was very determined to keep up my workout routine (or something like it) while I was on vacation. I was also determined to make it around in two foreign countries where I don't speak the language via public transportation (see the stairs I hiked below from the subway for an example - what was I thinking?!?!)

Spain was a marvelous (albeit quick) adventure. We spent our first day in Spain in the beautiful coastal city of Barcelona! Much to my dismay, we spent the majority of our time on buses and airplanes, so I didn't get nearly as much exercise in the city as I had hoped. Of course, I did walk enough to get terrible blisters on my feet - so bad, in fact, that I had to buy new shoes while we were there! Ouch! When we made it back to Madrid that night, we racked up additional miles walking to/from my new hotel and dinner, so I finished the day with a respectable 22,000 step count :) Not bad, but oh how my calves and feet hate me.

Our second day was by far our most active. Knowing that we would be walking a lot as we explored our base city of Madrid, I made sure to wear my trusty Gel Nimbus Asics - fashion be damned! I also took the time to do some stretching exercises and yoga before I met up with my friends at their hotel, and I'm oh-so-glad that I did! We racked up an impressive 14.5 miles of walking, which included hundreds of stairs and many hills. In the past, such a busy day would have led to a night full of Charlie Horse cramps and epsom salt soaks, but I held up surprisingly well!

During our last day in Madrid, my friend and I decided to split our time between Toledo and Madrid. Remembering the lessons from the day before, I started my day again with some dynamic stretches and a bit of yoga. After meeting with my friend at our hotel, we headed off to the beautiful city of Toledo! It was such an impressive and charming city. We enjoyed wandering the historic narrow streets, taking tons of pictures and enjoying a traditional Spanish lunch of seafood tapas and Sangria. We also walked a lot, racking up another 25,000 steps as we explored. Although I did my dynamic stretches that morning, however, I made the poor choice to wear cute shoes instead of comfortable ones, and my body definitely noticed the difference. 

I returned to my hotel that night to pack for Paris, a little worse for the wear. My feet hurt, my legs were cramping, and I felt like someone had punched me in the nose (thanks allergies). Ugh! So, in an effort to spare you the pain of such end of day torture, I offer you the following suggestions should you take an adventure of your own:
  • Footwear: You should always wear shoes appropriate for the activity. Yes, my Converse All-Star Chucks are cute, but they're also heavy! And for a girl with Barbie arched feet, they don't provide nearly enough support to walk 10+ miles a day. Fashion can take a holiday... wear shoes that support your feet!
  • Stretch: If you think you're going to do a great deal of walking, especially if said walking includes a lot of stairs and/or hills, STRETCH! Just because you're not doing a true workout does not mean that your muscles won't be working the same. Start your day with a dynamic stretch. I do this most mornings anyway as its a great way to wake up your muscles before you start your day. And at the end of your day? Stretch again! Cooling down your day with a static stretch is a great way to lengthen and stretch those sore muscles before you climb into bed. I wish I would have taken my own advice and done this my 3rd day in Spain. Oh, how my legs hurt in Paris!
  • Hydrate: Traveling will dehydrate you. Don't get excited on your long-haul flight with all the free alcohol they offer you. Make sure you drink water and juice too! And while you're walking and sightseeing around the country? Drink water! Yes, Sangria is delicious and that cafe con leche is divine, but nothing will hydrate you as well as a glass (or several) of water. My friend laughed because I was drinking water like a camel... but trust me... those cramps hurt worse if you're dehydrated!
All in all, this was one of the best vacations I have ever had! I felt good and never suffered from the jet lag or the plane cramps that I feared that I would endure. Although there are several lessons learned (footwear, allergy meds, etc), I prepared for this adventure far better than I would have a year ago! And next time, I'll be even better prepared! I can't wait to take my next adventure!

Back to my regular fitness and health routine, folks. Reality waits for no (wo)man! This vacation has reinvigorated my passion for life, and I can't wait to spend it happier and healthier than before. 



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday

Music is literally the soundtrack to my life. I wake up with songs in my head. I sing in the shower. I annoy my coworkers with my frequent (and random) song bursts at my desk at work. I point out good songs on the speaker system in loud restaurants. There are very few times when I don't have music in my head, in my ears, or coming out of my mouth. Saying all that, it should come as no surprise to any of you that music is a big part of my workout routine.

When I kicked off this workout regimen back in December, a couple of really terrific friends made me a few workout playlists for me to use when I worked out. These were fantastic!!! I was completely honored by the gifts of these friends, and listened to those workout playlists continually for several months. As with all good things, they got a little stale over time so I have since mixed the songs from these playlists into other playlists that I now I have on rotation while I workout at the gym. 

While working out yesterday, I started thinking about my workout playlists - what these songs mean to me and how they motivate me to achieve more when I am at the gym. My song choices are very deliberate, and my workout playlist of the day is usually directly related to my mood right before I hit the gym. It got me thinking... do others use their playlists this way? What songs motivate them? Inspire them? Light a fire beneath their feet? Help calm them down after a rough day?

I decided to start posting a "Ten Tunes Tuesday" to share some of my favorite gym songs with you. If you have a song worth sharing, let me know and I'll include it here in a future post. I'm always looking for new gym music (and new music in general), so this should be a fun way to both share my favorite songs while learning about new ones! (Note: These aren't necessarily playlists, nor are these songs listed in the order in which they appear on any of my current playlists). Without further adieu, here is my first Ten Tunes Tuesday list - enjoy!
  1. Rita Ora - "Poison"
  2. DJ Khaled - "All I Do is Win"
  3. Beyonce - "7/11"
  4. Avicii - "Waiting for Love"
  5. Swedish House Mafia - "Don't You Worry Child"
  6. Zendaya - "Replay (Cahill Radio Edit)"
  7. Ke$ha - "Sleazy"
  8. T.I. - "Motivation"
  9. Dami Im - "Super Love"
  10. Fall Out Boy - "Centuries"

My friend Jay has a website called, a site dedicated to helping you find music for your playlist that will take your workout to the next level. This site has everything, from high energy beats to make you want to run faster to songs with a mellow, chill vibe that will help you concentrate during yoga. I've discovered quite a few of my new gym songs here, and think it's worth checking it out. (I get no benefit from saying this - I just genuinely think it's useful!). Feel free to peruse his site and check it out! In the meantime, tell me... do you use music to help you get through your daily workout routine? If so, what jams are motivating you? I'd love to hear from you!



Monday, May 4, 2015

Mo Motivation Monday

"... But I'm glad 'cause they feed me the fuel that I need for the fire
to burn and it's burning and I have return..." - Eminem

Motivation is a funny thing. It can be powerful... and it can be fleeting. Sustaining your momentum can be difficult when you are pursuing any goal, whether it be a fitness journey, a career goal, or picking up a new hobby. Why is sustaining it so hard? Are we adding too much fuel to the fire? Why do we so quickly burn out? And how do we keep the fire going?

On December 7th, 2014, after spending 16 hours at Disneyland the day before, I went to the gym. It's not the first time I had ever been to the gym. I went to the gym once or twice a week for several months before this gym visit, and had been known to be a gym junkie from time to time throughout my adult life. So why was this particular gym visit so notable? Well, on that particular chilly Sunday, I decided to hit the gym... HARD. For the first time in years, I ran. I ran until my legs wouldn't let me run any further. And when I couldn't continue running? I climbed. I hiked that incline up to the max and I power walked for another 15 minutes. When I finally hopped off that treadmill, I headed to the free weights. With the familiar cold steel in my hands, my body remembered what to do. My arms shook; my legs ached... but my body remembered. Why had I neglected the weight rack for so long? Oh, my sweet, steel friends... why did I leave you?

I called a couple of my best friends over the next few days and told them about my experience. I confided to them how current life frustrations had motivated the workout, and told them about my personal fitness challenge. They encouraged me, some even betting me to see if it would help motivate me to continue. I didn't need a financial reward - the frustration, the ANGER, was all the fuel that I needed.  This was my motivation! I kept it up for nearly 30 days straight, stopping only after a doctor confirmed that I had the flu. Stupid flu. All of this motivation... all of this incredible fuel that had ignited my fitness fire... was gone. Just like that! It was gone! I was so disappointed. Until...

Remember that post I did on gym selfies? And how they're not so vain or stupid after all? I have been posting these gym selfies on Instagram. It wasn't a conscious decision... I just sort of posted one on a whim one day, and was surprised to find that a bunch of other people do the same thing! Eventually, I even made fitness buddies on Instagram. A community of strangers applauding each other, and inspiring each other to push on and continue. It's awesome! One of these friends noticed I hadn't published these selfies as regularly as before, and asked what was up. I explained to her my original motivations for kicking off this adventure, and how that motivation had waned... She applauded my honesty and encouraged me to continue. She described her own struggles with her fitness journey, and how she got past them. Her encouragement, along with countless friends, family members, and colleagues, has really helped me continue. THIS has become my new motivation. I'm not just doing this for myself anymore... I'm not doing this because I'm angry... I'm doing this for them now!

Despite this newfound motivation, I sometimes fear that this, too, shall pass. I fear that failure, injury, or illness may demotivate me once again, and I'll fall back on those old habits I've worked so hard to overcome. In addition to planning for an upcoming vacation, I've spent a lot of time this weekend reading about motivation and inspiration... what drives people to continue towards and past their goals. I've met a lot of amazing people in the last year or so that have really transformed what motivation and inspiration look like to me. I've learned a lot from these people, and combined what I learned from them and what I've learned reading this weekend, to come up with the below. I hope it helps you too!
  • Visualize the Finish Line. You need to know what the finish line looks like before you can visualize yourself crossing it. Can that finish line change? Sure. Can it move? Absolutely. But you've got to know what it looks like if you're ever going to reach it. See yourself at the goal line... do you like what you see? How do you feel? What does it smell like? Is it exactly what you wanted? Good. Now, let's get there!
  • Mapping the Trail. It does us no good to have a finish line unless we know how to get there. Being inspired to create a goal is great. Being motivated to reach the goal is even better! But where are we going? Do we even know how to get there? Sure, you can cheat... but how often do cheaters really win? Map out your goals. Give yourself realistic timelines. Remember that persistence is key! Persistence... and good, old-fashioned hard work.
  • Planning for Failure. No, I'm not saying to expect to lose the race. I'm not wanting you to quit before you start! That would just be silly! What I'm asking you to do is to understand that this won't be easy! You'll face plenty of opposition to reaching the finish line. There will be competition. There will be setbacks. These don't have to be roadblocks, however, unless you let them. So... how are you going to get around it? Detours are ok! Plan for this now, so you don't have to act under duress later on. Trust me... had I thought to do this when I caught the flu earlier this year, I would have been back at it so much sooner! Always be prepared to adapt when faced with obstacles and obstructions.
  • Build Your Billboards. While you're running on this track towards the finish line, you may forget why you're running. Build your billboards to stay connected to your goal. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? How are you getting there? It's easy to get caught up in our day to day lives. We have work stress... family stress... financial stress... And all of these stressors can easily detract us from our goals. Remind yourself why you're doing what you're doing. WRITE IT DOWN! Repeat it to yourself as often as you can. Share it with others. Trust me... it's very easy to think that the finish line is too far. "You've gone far enough," you'll say. You owe it to yourself to finish if you start. Keep reminding yourself that!
  • Reaching the Finish Line. I'm a big believer that the race doesn't end at the finish line. Rather, a new map is made and a new race is ran. When you meet your first goal, start planning for the next one. In fitness, a lot of people complain about the plateau... I've experienced the same, but I can honestly say that when I've done that, it's usually because I've been unwilling to push myself past my comfort zone. This plateau may just be the end of my first finish line... it's time to start mapping to finish line number 2! Every successful person I know always has a new goal in mind. Never, ever get complacent. 
So friends... tell me. What is it that motivates you? How do you sustain your motivation? And when you've felt your motivation begin to wane.... how did you rescue it? I'd love to hear from you! In the meantime, I'm going to take my own advice... As soon as I return from Europe, I'm going to draw my map. I'm going to build my billboards. I'm going to strive for that finish line. I hope you'll join me : )