The Year of You

learning to live without limits

Tis the Season — November 26, 2017

Tis the Season

Holy cow, this has been one busy Fall. With work, the kids’ school and sports events, weddings and all our annual Fall traditions…we have been non-stop. I am so ready for Christmas time, to spend time with family and relax. Thanksgiving weekend marks the start of our Christmas holiday traditions. Once the last dish is washed on Thanksgiving night…it’s Christmas time in my house. Friday is for decorating the house, Saturday is for putting up lights on the house and our town’s annual lighted Christmas parade (which was better than ever this year!), and Sunday we relax and start watching Christmas movies. I just love traditions.

This year we decided to start a new tradition and cut our own Christmas tree. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good “pick your own” fruit/vegetable, but getting a real tree for Christmas was new for me. The boys loved going to pick the perfect tree. We spent a good 15 minutes searching, and there it was. We all agreed instantly.  Getting the tree home felt a little like Clark Griswold. We did have a saw, but instead of tying it to the hood of our SUV, we put in the way back of the car…a 6 1/2 foot tree in the back of MY car. Good news is my car now smells great.

We got the tree home safely, it is now up and decorated and I have to admit…I really do love it. It makes the whole house smell like Christmas AND I didn’t have to fluff it like I would a fake tree. I cant wait to see what the rest of this holiday season brings because it is sure off to a great start. I know one thing is for certain…it will be a season filled with family and tradition.

And one last thing….because I know the question will come up…it has several times in the past…..the fifth stocking on the mantle is for the dogs to share…not a third baby on the way.

The Year of Weddings —

The Year of Weddings

This year, Jason and I had four of our really close friends get married, and for three of these weddings one of us was in the wedding party. With bridal showers, bachelorette/bachelor parties and the weddings ceremonies and receptions, this year made us realize just how blessed we are to have such great friends. This past weekend, our good friends The Nicks got married and it marked the final wedding of the year.  We couldn’t be happier for this awesome couple. The weather was pretty crappy, but the day was perfect.

As I reflect on this year of weddings, I have realized that it was a gift that I never expected to receive.  Jason and I spent more time with friends, we had the opportunity to celebrate these momentous days in their lives,  we got to dress-up and get fancy (which I really do love),  and we got to dance the night away like we never had before…… not once but four times. I am thankful for the year of weddings.

Part 1…it’s all about the journey. — November 8, 2017

Part 1…it’s all about the journey.

I write a lot about running on this blog, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret….I don’t love running. When I think about what I do in a week, running makes up less than 10% of my weekly activity and  in the words of my three year old son “it’s not my favorite”. What I do enjoy is a good challenge which on most days means strength and high intensity cardio…and lately boxing (which I will get into in one of the later posts). Over the next several weeks I am going to post a series on what I really spend my time doing…and its not running. The series will be broken into several parts including the journey thus far, the nutrition, the work/activity, tips, tricks and lessons learned and thoughts about what is next for 2018. As always, each post will include a summary of what I’m doing/have done and key lessons I’ve learned….so let’s jump in.

For those of you who have read my earlier blog posts, you are pretty familiar with what got  me started on this fitness journey, but for the sake of any new readers I’ll do a brief recap. For 2016, I set a goal to run a 5k each month. I set this goal in December of 2015 when I was doing nothing…and I mean absolutely nothing.  No exercise or really any effort at any physical activity. I wanted to be fit and healthy (who doesn’t) but my actions did nothing to support this desire. To get myself motivated towards this goal and to keep myself accountable, I decided to take it public. Once I professed my 2016 goal on Facebook….there was no turning back. I was not going to give up. There are a lot of strategies you can use to hold yourself accountable, and broadcasting to the masses is one of them.

Since my goal started in the winter, most of my weekday runs were on a treadmill at my work fitness center. This was fine for awhile and then I started to get seriously bored on that damn treadmill. One day, I decided to venture into a class that was offered at my gym to try something new and it pretty much changed my life. While I made the decision to take that class and each subsequent class and training session since, I credit a lot of what I have been able to do to the convenience of my work fitness center and the amazing instruction of our fitness center superhero Stephanie. She makes learning to build a healthier lifestyle enjoyable and attainable. I started taking her classes and haven’t looked back. She opened up a whole new world of health and fitness for me.  Fast forward two years and 5 million burpees later, training and working out is the best part of my day. If I could, I would spend most my day training. The key for me and this lifestyle come from a few basic concepts that I have outlined below.

1.) Make it fun….i.e. enjoy the process. If you find working out a dread, find a way to keep it interesting. This may be working out with a friend and using it as a time to catch-up. This may be taking a Zumba class which is a seriously good cardio workout that doesn’t feel like you are working out. It may be doing strength training while listening to an audio book and using it as a time to “read” more books while building your strength. Find a crafty way to trick yourself. Personally, I think group fitness classes are a great way to start. I like the atmosphere of a group class, and a good instructor will explain modifications that can be performed to make the exercises harder or easier depending on where you are at.

2.) Hold yourself accountable, set goals and track progress. As I mentioned earlier I typically build accountability for myself by making my goals public. This is not for everyone but there are endless books on building good habits. To get you started, I recommend anything by Gretchen Rubin. Another key way to hold yourself accountable is to set measurable goals. My goals are always evolving with what I have going on in my life, but I’m always setting small goals and then tracking my progress.

3.) Make it convenient. This is a big one. I don’t want to gloss over the point I made earlier about having a fitness center at work. I realize that this is a huge luxury and that it isn’t easy for everyone to use their lunch hour to workout. What you can do to make it easier is to take out some of the guesswork. Plan your workouts for the week in advance so that you don’t even have to think about it. While you are at it, plan what you will do in each workout. Unless I am taking a class or have a training session, I always know exactly what I am going to do before I workout. Another tip to get you going, set out your clothes the night before so that you don’t have to fumble around in the dark looking for your socks. Take out the barriers preventing you from getting to that workout and you will find that it becomes less of a task and more of a habit.

4.) Finally, make small incremental changes to see sustainable results. I really believe in making small incremental changes rather than big bold sweeping changes. I was recently discussing an approach to start working out with a few colleagues at work and challenged them to consider starting small.  Making small changes makes the process seem manageable and eventually these small changes become easy and then you layer on more small changes. These small changes get you closer and closer to your bigger goals. Small changes are where it is at and it has helped me sustain and maintain all of the positive changes that I have made.

5.) It’s a journey without a destination. What took me the longest to learn is that being fit is a journey with no end. What happens on the day you reach your ultimate fitness goal? You either start a new fitness journey or you stop…and I’m guessing that after all that work and effort that you aren’t going to stop.

Next time, we talk nutrition.

I Just Felt Like Running  — November 3, 2017

I Just Felt Like Running 

It’s been almost a month since I participated in my first half marathon. Not only was it my first organized half marathon, but it was the first and only time that I have ever run more than eleven consecutive miles. All things considered, the race itself went better than I could have anticipated. I performed better than I expected coming in just under the two-hour goal that I had for myself (1:59:28) and had no major issues. I walked away with all of my toenails and no chaffing and I consider that a success. This was a bucket list item for me and while I’m not sure I will sign-up for another half marathon, I am glad that I participated. Being the half marathon novice that I am, I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learned through this experience.

Pre- Race

  1. Training plan: optional. There are tons of half marathon training plans available, just search Pinterest and you will be overwhelmed. Personally, I didn’t follow a plan. I only like to run one day a week and most plans called for multiple running days.  Instead, I decided to focus on building distance on my once a week run. Each week I either added a mile or worked to improve speed of the mileage that I had built up. Once I hit ten miles, I stopped adding distance. Probably a fail on my part, but the ten miles was long enough. My plan for the last three miles was to rely on the energy of the other runners and the finish line…and it worked.
  2. Closely monitor all water, activity and nutrition on the days leading up to the run. Running for two hours will leave you feeling pretty crappy towards the end if you aren’t careful. To avoid dehydration during the race, I started increasing my water consumption three days before. In addition, I tried to keep my workouts pretty standard. I didn’t add anything new or unexpected to prevent any muscle tightness or soreness leading up to the race. That being said, I didn’t stop working out. Keep things as normal as possible.  This includes food too. Don’t eat anything new on race morning…you don’t want to deal with any unexpected side effects.
  3. Run a dress rehearsal. Make sure you do a fairly long distance run in the clothing you intend to wear to the half. This will prevent any unpleasant wardrobe malfunctions, think leggings that don’t stay up, chaffing  or uncomfortable socks. I am super sensitive to these kind of things, and will fixate on anything that feels out-of-place so I keep a pretty standard uniform when running.
  4. Plan your entertainment. It was surprising to me how many people on the course weren’t listening to music. This would kill me. I know it is generally recommended not to use earbuds for safety reasons, but if I didn’t have something to listen too I am not sure that I could complete the course. Make sure you pick something that will keep you motivated. I’ve found that when I run to audio books or podcasts, my pace is significantly slower than when I run to music. For the half, I used music only to help with motivation. Rock My Run is my go-to.
  5. Establish Coping Strategies.  I knew this would be a challenging physical activity for me. Knowing this, I established some tactics in advance to help me through it. First, create a mantra for yourself and use that mantra during the really tough parts of the race. I used my family motto which is “we can do hard things”. I adapted it to “you can do hard things” and would repeat this to myself during the tough times. It helped….a lot. Do not underestimate the power of a mantra. Another strategy I used was to come to an agreement with myself (ie my body) that I would go as fast as I could go in that moment. This gave me the freedom to slow down or speed up if need be, but always to keep pushing myself to do my best.

During the Race

  1. Find Motivation on the Course.   You will find motivation in unexpected places. I had no idea how much the spectators would impact my motivation. It was reflected in my pace too. The areas where there were more people watching the race resulted in a slightly faster pace. Also keep an eye out for the posters. The posters for these larger organized races are fantastic. My personal favorite posters included: “Smile, If you aren’t wearing underwear” and “Worst parade, ever”.  It seems small, but having something to make you laugh on mile 9 can really save you.
  2. Save a little juice for the last two miles. I knew that I would need to conserve a little energy to really push myself those last two miles. I wanted to cross the finish line strong. I had come that far and there was no way that I was going to shuffle across the finish line.

Post Race

The best way that I can describe my post race experience (once I came down off the high of completing a half marathon) was the feeling of being hung over. I was dehydrated, I was exhausted, my brain felt foggy, I had a headache from lack of caffeine (I skipped the coffee that morning) and I. Was. Hungry. Two recommendations….have a game plan for brunch after the race. We ended up bouncing between three restaurants because we didn’t want to wait 20 minutes to eat and ultimately wasted too much damn time. Also, keep moving. You will feel inclined to sit on your butt the rest of the day and don’t get me wrong you deserve rest…but don’t stop moving all together. Your body will tighten up. Finally, Jason and I wobbled into Denny’s like two 90 year olds who just had hip replacement surgery. It was painful. Final note about post race, expect to be somewhat sore the next several days. Make sure to stretch and foam roll as soon as you can. The million dollar question right now is will I do another half?  The answer…probably yes, but I’ve got a few other things that I am going to work on first and one of those just required me to buy a mouth guard.  Until next time.