The Year of You

learning to live without limits

#FitnessInYourFuture — January 31, 2017

#FitnessInYourFuture

This post is dedicated to the un-athletic, awkward, chubby thirteen year-old me: “YOU will be just fine. Actually, you will be more than fine. YOU will be awesome.  I promise.”

This has been an exhausting post for me to write. I’ve redrafted this one probably thirty times, editing so much of my original post that it looks nothing like where I started.  Health and fitness has become such an important part of my life that when I sit down to write about it a million thoughts come flying at me all at once and it is overwhelming.  I could probably write fifty posts related to different aspects of fitness and still not cover everything that I want to say. I’ve decided to focus this post on exactly what I need to do right now, and just START!

To have a full amazing Year of You, it is integral that you put some focus on your health and fitness.

To get me started, I have resorted to a list.

1.) I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again….I am not an expert. I have no certifications, I have no degrees related to anything nutrition or health. I only know what I know from experience. I only know what works for me, and it has REALLY worked for me.

2.) There will always be someone who is better, faster, stronger. Someone who eats better. Someone who is just more of a badass when it comes to health and fitness. These are the people that I admire, but it is not a competition. I am not competing with these people. The only competition I have is with myself…to improve, to be better, healthier, stronger and more of a badass.

3.) Health and fitness is my passion (aside from my family). It only took me 30 years to figure this out, and I’ve become a bit obsessive over the last year. It truly is a lifestyle choice to make some of the changes that I have made, and IT. TAKES. TIME.  Nothing magical will ever happen overnight, and if it did it wouldn’t be satisfying and likely not sustainable.

4.) My final point, and the intended focus of this post: You have to start somewhere. Plain and simple. Just start doing something.

Making your health and fitness a priority starts with you. You need to want it. You need to own it. You need to find your motivation and bottle it. For me, training is the one thing that I do for myself every day. Only I can take a good workout away from myself once it is done. It is my accomplishment for the day,  and it feels damn good. Take that feeling that you get after a good workout and remember it. Store it somewhere close by. Remember that feeling of accomplishment and go after it each and every day.

Commit yourself to starting a routine. Take the choice out of the equation. The decision to workout each day  (or most days of the week) should be as basic as your decision to brush your teeth. You could very well skip it, but how would you feel if you did? Another trick I use, is schedule my workouts each week. I plan what I am going to do and I block the time in my calendar.  It is a serious commitment; a relationship with yourself.  As long as you give to it, it will give back to you.

The starting point for me was running, but I had to start somewhere. I look back at journal entries to read notes like “I ran 1.5 miles without stopping today”.  I reflect back on this accomplishment and realize how far I have come. It all originated from my decision to just start doing something. Some days I wanted to quit, it was hard, it was frustrating, and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Day after day it got easier, and the more I worked at it the more confident I became.

I continued to push myself, not wanting to become complacent in the accomplishment. By this time last year I started adding in conditioning and strength. By summer, I was obsessed with lifting. I loved the feeling of doing something challenging, something that I could continue to progress without any limitations, something that was typically a guy’s game (well, in my mind it was).  By Fall I was competing in an Ultimate Warrior Competition at my gym, to be named the only female Ultimate Warrior!…think 10 minute plank, 10 minute wall sit, timed row, etc. You get the picture. I kept trying new things and I learned to love the things that I used to hate because for once I acually put effort into doing them.

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Bent Arm Hang Challenge- Ultimate Warrior Competition

 

As I write this today, I am inching more and more towards maintenance mode, trying to find my balance but still intending to push myself just as hard. My typical week is laid out below. I stick to 6 days of training and 1 rest day. Typically Sundays depending on what I have going on in a weekend.

Monday- 45 minutes of full body conditioning, intervals, strength. It’s really everything and its amazing and it’s intense.

Tuesday- 3 mile run (sometimes I opt to cycle instead for 30 minutes as I am training for the sprint triathlon), followed by a 20 minute tabata cardio class. If I am feeling particularly stressed, I will do Zumba in the evening to get my dance on. I love a good Zumba class. On a good Tuesday, I burn 900 calories from exercise alone which means a bowl of cereal is in my future come 8:30pm (or maybe two….don’t judge)

Wednesday- All strength, 45 minutes full body. In the evening I will swim for 30 minutes (also to train for the sprint) During the summer months, I will typically do a 4 mile sunset run instead.

Thursday- Same style of workout as Monday, but not the same actual workout.

Friday- All Strength, 45 minutes full body. Typically a more intense strength workout than Wednesday.

Saturday- If I have only had one run day in the week, I will use Saturday as a longer run day. 4-5 miles.

Sunday- REST!!!!

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My advice to anyone who doesn’t know where to begin is to just start moving. Go for a walk, go for a run, maybe take a class, or put in the Hip Hop Abs DVD that we all regret buying (I cant be the only one, right!?!). Just start moving again!  Make today the day that you get out of your comfort zone, take action and regain control of your own health and fitness. Find your motivation and be the badass that you were born to be. A year from now you will be happy that you started today.

 

#LeapofFaith — January 27, 2017

#LeapofFaith

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to go skydiving. I probably got the idea watching Road Rules as a pre-teen…or maybe Real World. Honestly though, what good ideas and sound decisions didn’t come from watching MTV?  For whatever reason, I talked myself out of skydiving for all of my adult years…likely my brain using logic to talk my heart out of something it wanted to do. Finally, last year I was inspired to actually do it and luckily this was something that Jason also really wanted to do so Jason and I did what every adventurous person does who wants to go skydiving…we bought a Groupon for it.

The morning of the jump, we gave special instructions to my sister should Jason and I both fall to our demise, we kissed the kids, and off we went. Maybe this was all a little reckless, but I’m here to write about it today.

Here is what I will say about the actual experience of skydiving: half the battle is just getting on the tiny little plane. There were 5 of us in a plane likely built to hold 3 comfortably…Jason, myself, the pilot and our two tandem saviors. There was only one seat…the pilot’s seat. The rest of us sat on the floor. Since I volunteered to go first, I sat closest to the door.  I remember looking to my left and saw the plane’s certificate of airworthiness dated sometime in the 60’s which ultimately made me want to get the heck out of that plane.  Lucky for me that is what was happening next.

We finally reached 10,500 feet and it was time to get going. It all happened so quickly. My tandem savior strapped himself to me. It really was quite an awkward experience. We got all hooked up, he opened the door, my right foot went out of the plane, then his right foot followed and we both leaned forward and there we went. The actual free fall is a bit of a blur to me. I’m not sure I was doing much thinking at the time so I don’t really have any memories of it. I can remember seeing the underside of our plane as we spiraled down. I can remember the sensation of drowning due to all the air that was forced up my nose at once, but that is really all I can remember. Finally my tandem savior pulled the parachute and we spent the next bit just coasting down to safety….instant gratitude ensued as I thanked him profusely for saving my life with his precision, training and skill. I felt indebted to this person.

What I really learned from skydiving is that there are situations in life where you just need to put your foot outside of the plane and lean forward. Sometimes you just need to go for it and have faith to really experience life. The odds of me dying that day were higher than a typical day, but the payoff from the leap was worth it. It taught me to lead with my heart a little bit more and my brain a little bit less. It taught me that not every experience can be planned out. I had literally no idea what to expect going into that day and there was no way for me to prepare for it.  I just had to hand over the reins of control that I so tightly hold and lean forward. I learned to take chances. In the end, we only regret the chances that we don’t take, and I refuse to live with any regret.


Next Time: My fitness and health routine. I talk a lot about running, but nowadays I am only running two days a week max. The rest of my week is filled with amazing strength and cardio workouts. So….I’ll talk about what I do, how I do it, how my view of nutrition has changed my lifestyle and other seemingly boring aspects of my day that have led me to be in the best shape of my entire life. 

#IJustFeltLikeRunnin — January 22, 2017

#IJustFeltLikeRunnin

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Yesterday was race day. Race day brings with it a mix of emotions…excitement, confidence, anxiety and dread. All of these feelings melt away when I hear that gunshot. Determination, drive and mental clarity take over and I have two objectives….run and run faster.

Yesterday’s race was the only 5k that Jason and I signed-up for this year. We had a free registration from a previous race so we figured what the heck. I never planned to continue the monthly 5ks into 2017. It started to feel too routine which took the fun out of it. I am really glad that we ran in the Winter Luau 5k on Saturday because this race gave me the chance to see the difference a year can make.

During yesterday’s race I hit a new personal record (PR) of 23 minutes 17 seconds which is nearly one minute less than the fastest time I have ever run a 5k. If you are doing the math, that’s a 7m30s/mile pace. I finally broke 24 minutes! It was even more satisfying that this happened at the Winter Luau 5k because this race is what started my journey as a runner last January. That race was my first test, and when I crossed that finish line last year at 29 minutes 12 seconds…it felt good…and when I crossed that same finish line yesterday over 6 minutes faster…it felt even better.

The decision to pursue the twelve 5ks in twelve months started with a conversation on Christmas eve 2015 between myself, Jason and my sister Melissa. I mentioned wanting to try it because I knew someone who had a similar goal that year and was inspired by the idea. Melissa and Jason were both on board but I wasn’t 100% there. The commitment was intimidating.  My commitment to the goal inevitably arrived a few days later when discussing with a friend. That conversation sealed the deal for me. From there it was straight into planning mode….planning out the races each month. More important than planning the races was the actual running. I had not been running in several years…so I had to start and I had to keep it up. I could not and would not give-up.

The more I ran, the easier it became. It’s funny how that works. The simple formula of working at something consistently in order to get better. As each month’s race arrived, I had new challenges, I hit new accomplishments and shared the experience with different people.

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By the summer, I was actually pretty good at running which is not what I expected to happen. I had never been good at anything atheltic in my entire life. It just never happened for me.  I learned to compete with myself instead of others. I could control how fast I ran, but I could not control who showed up to race, how old they were (this impacted the competitors in my division) or how fast they ran. The competition against myself fueled everything. Every race I would set a stretch goal and every race I would surpass that goal. That feeling of accomplishment lit a fire within me that made this uncoordinated, non-athletic, at that time “skinny fat” girl feel like she could do anything….anything if she had the right mindset and the willingness to work. This, this right here started it all for me. It sparked the feeling that I could accomplish anything…so that’s just what did.

Next time: Taking the leap….my decision to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.  Sometimes you just need to have faith that the stranger strapped to your back will save your life.

#GoalGetter — January 20, 2017

#GoalGetter

I love goals. Love may actually be an understatement….I am obsessed with goals.  It’s why I make so many lists. That wonderful feeling of crossing off an item on the list; a mini accomplishment for the day. Success!! I realize goal setting isn’t for everyone, but it works for me. These goals keep me motivated to move forward.  It’s a constant competition with myself to always be better. Without goals, I feel stuck and purposeless. The success of my 2016 was mostly based around the goals that I set.

So let’s set some goals. We can do this together. When setting a goal, my focus is on establishing a target that is challenging yet achievable and most importantly measureable while still being fun. It’s my recipe for any goal worth going after. To have a true year of you, you first need to set some goals (I will also refer to goals as targets, use whatever word you like, I will use them interchangeably).

Let’s start by talking about the things that you want to do. Those things that you just can’t quite get to because life gets in the way and other requirements tend to push them to the backburner. Other people’s priorities become more important than your own. You understand what I am talking about. Now grab a piece of paper and a pen and get ready because we are going to start a list. This list WILL be on paper folks, so put your phone away or it doesn’t count as a true list.

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Now that you have your paper, start to write down a few ideas of endeavors you would like to try or targets you would like to hit. Try to keep the list on track by only adding ideas that focus on your own development, maybe they are bucket list items or something you really want to add because it will challenge you. Keep this list close for the next week; write other ideas down as you think of them. After a week of holding on to this list, identify  the items that are still at the top of your mind. The ones that make you excited. These will become the goals you chase after first.

When thinking about my goals for last year, I wanted to set targets that would give me personal satisfaction. Goals that would be challenging and that would put me well outside of my comfort zone. Setting a goal, and knowing you can easily achieve that goal just isn’t fun; it’s not rewarding. Knowing that I had to work to achieve it, now that was true satisfaction. As always, you want to make sure that the motivation and drive is there to complete the goal. It’s why I try to keep most of my goals fun. That being said, you can turn the most grueling of goals into something fun with the right mindset. Finally, your goal needs to be measurable.  If you can’t measure your progress, then it is what I classify as a fluffy goal. Don’t set fluffy goals. Examples of fluffy goals include: Be a better person, read more books, learn to cook. These are great endeavors but how do you really measure these at the end of the year? Better versions of these fluffy goals might be: Log 40 volunteer hours in 2017, read 2 books each month, make dinner 3 nights per week, every week. You get the gist.

The goal I chose to add for this fun little exercise in goal setting is that I want to complete an Indoor Sprint Triathlon at my local YMCA. 1.) This is a challenging goal for me. Let’s just say the swimming portion will not be pretty and my goal is survival. 2.) Next, this goal is achievable, absolutely achievable but it will require additional training. Up until 2 days ago, I didn’t bike and my typical training routine does not include swimming. Water actually scares the crap out of me. You should ask Jason about my panic attack in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. So swimming will be a challenge, but I think I can achieve it. 3.) I can measure this goal’s success. My success is finishing the triathlon in under an hour. (It’s a sprint triathlon so the distances are much shorter than a normal triathlon 400 yd swim, 12.8km bike, 2.5mi run). Wish me luck. I need it.

It is still January people, you have plenty of time to set goals for the year. Maybe 2017 will be your year of you.

Next Time: It’s race day! I will be focusing my next post on my big goal for last year….my monthly 5ks. The good, the bad, and what I learned about myself through competitive running and how it changed my outlook on what I could achieve.

#YearofLauren — January 12, 2017

#YearofLauren

Ah, 2017, here you are. I’ve been feeling uninspired the last few weeks. It’s January! The single longest month of the year. Generally speaking, January has nothing going on for itself. When you compare January to the other 11 months (with the exception of my wonderful husband’s birthday, sorry Jason), January ranks pretty low. It’s cold, it’s long, the next fun holiday is too far away to really care (sorry MLK), AND we are all stuck inside. I am personally struggling with January because it is now 2017. Two thousand and flipping seventeen. 2016 was a transformational year for me. I set goals, I tried new things, I took on a different outlook and attitude. I transformed my outside and my mind. 2016 was the year of Lauren. 2017 is here, and now I am on a quest to find new challenges. I am not sure what I will do after this year, but I am sure this inspiration will find me soon. All in time.

So let’s rewind. We are going back to 2016. 2016 took me by surprise. It came at me full force. It was like someone came along and pushed me off that comfy little ledge I had been sitting on for years. That ledge where I sat too afraid to make the jump. Kind of like a water slide, you want to do it but that push you give yourself often comes with a second of hesitation. That fall, sometimes spiraling out of control led me to new adventures and new accomplishments. In many ways, I needed that push outside of my comfort zone. I learned to live without the limitations that I had placed on myself. I said yes more than I said no. I defined every moment of 2016. I would not let 2016 define me. I was in control.

So what is all of this about 2016 and what is there to be gained from looking back? I believe that everyone specifically women and mothers should live a year where they find a way to do more for their own personal development and well-being. To really put a focus on the things they want to achieve. To live a year of you. I will tell you that it is 100% achievable, and more importantly 100% achievable without pushing family and other important aspects of our lives to the back burner.  In this blog, I will go through some of my highlights from last year, the lessons I learned and attempt to describe what it felt like to live a little bolder.  You would be amazed what you can learn about yourself if you just let yourself live without limitations.