Building A Better Running Body

20150216_090811-1
My little kettlebell friend 😉

Hey boys and girls…. off to another day….  my thought on waking this morning… “there are parts of me that are tight and ache that I’m not used to” haha

Enter… doing new exercises or hitting others harder than you have recently. I actually, in a twisted way, kinda like that feeling. I know I’ve worked m body in a different way and that’s a good thing.  We do adjust to the same/similar work over time and  have to step outside our comfort zone, whether it’s adding something new, increasing our weights or our reps, or running a little farther.

As a runner I do try and find exercises that will build and strengthen me for running…. is there a more glorious form of exercise ? 😉 I have found that my strong upper body really does come into play when I’m in those last hard miles of a long run and my legs might be asking “are we there yet?”

I’ve also read a lot on how runners can rely more on their legs than the strong powerful glute muscles to drive their run and how those muscles, even though the largest on the body, can be weak or neglected leading to potential injury. I’ve been focused on doing some specific work in that area for awhile now.

Yesterday’s workout was one I enjoy ’cause for me it’s constant movement and variety. I do some boxing for like…3 songs (that will get you breathing hard) and it’s great upper body/core work. I move into doing some weights, back to some boxing, then core work on the floor, weights, and maybe end with the final song hammering on the bag. ( seriously, if you ever need to release stress, anger, frustration…. get a punching bag 😉 anyway, put all that together, it’s a good workout that I feel the next day. I like that.

So some moves I’m doing lately I think are helpful ( and hey if you’re into that aesthetic thing, they don’t hurt for that either 😉

Squats. I do those suckers wherever I can. I can knock off like… 50 brushing my teeth. Do that twice a day… that’s outside of my workouts… bonus… I use  a 35lb kettlebell to do my squats with in my workouts. Yeah, you’ll feel that after awhile.

Deadlifts. Again, if I’m moving through a quick workout, that kettlebell really comes in handy.

 Glute Bridges. I think one of the single best moves for runners. Do single leg also… that’s where you find out pretty quick that you’re a total badass   wimp. Single leg really isolates the muscles on one side and you have to intentionally focus (embrace the discomfort…. I try not to make squealing noises at the end of a set haha)

Lunges. Those are always a good standby and can be modified for your needs.

My newest favorite though, has taken me a little practice working on the form, is the single leg deadlift. Oh I’ve got it now… I’ve even got it using my 35lb kettlebell through the move. The movements are slow, controlled and focused….. and yeah…. you should feel it. I love that this exercise isolates and focuses on one side without making you over-compensate. It’s best done barefoot so you can really plant your foot solidly on the floor. This move will also bring out every balance skill you have….. perfect for an old person like me to keep that sharp 😉

Even if you don’t run, these are great lower body strength moves that benefit anyone. Incorporating a variety of exercises and athletic movements into your routine will make you stronger for your overall daily living =)

Do you have any favorite “go to” strength exercises ?

Advertisements

Healthy Habits And Lifestyle Change

Hey boys and girls…. it’s Monday! Are you ready to take on a new week ? It’s sunny and beautiful here in south Texas this morning and a bit on the cooler side too… no worries… it won’t last long 😉

I felt it when I scampered outside in only my shorts and sports bra… brisk air slamming into me… the beauty of working out? You warm up fast and get over that ha

Today was a combo of boxing, weights, and core body moves. I like doing this because it’s just a progression of constant movement from one point to the next. Not only that, boxing always makes me feel like a beast 😉

I knew getting up this morning that this workout was on my agenda for my day. A part of my day. As non-negotiable as eating or brushing my teeth.

Why? My workouts are a habit now, and honestly, a habit I love.

On our pursuit of developing a lifestyle change ( not a diet, a permanent change you can live with) new habits and behaviors must be formed along the way to make that change.

Food habits :  learning to make better choices to support our goals, and setting aside other things that don’t support our goals.  How do you look at food? What is it to you? Comfort? Stress reliever? A friend ?  or is it fuel to support your life and activities? What kind of fuel do you put in it ? When you’re hungry, what are you reaching for ? To move forward requires making intentional, better choices for yourself. Know also that it will take time for your tastes to change. If your daily diet consists of fast food, processed foods, sugars and refined foods know it will take time for change to occur. When it does, you will honestly taste the difference..those foods will taste “off” to you.

Exercise habits: movement isn’t just good to help with weight loss, but it’s good for us mentally, spiritually, and emotionally too. Our bodies are MADE for movement.

We have to make intentional choices to exercise like anything else in our life.

The thing is, for most people, in the beginning, it’s hard and uncomfortable! It’s also the point where you will quickly realize how out of shape you really are and get discouraged. Start small, start slow, stay consistent. Yes, you will be uncomfy but the more you continue to do it, the less you will feel that way. Trust me, you can move to a place where you embrace the challenge and look forward to the workout and will feel like something is missing if you don’t do it.

Mental habits: How often are you thinking of food ? What are your thoughts about food? Is it in a proper place in your life? How do you talk to yourself? Are you mentally preparing yourself for physical activity ?

Lifestyle habits: How we’re raised, how we learned to eat with our families impacts us forever. The spoken or unspoken rules that we grew up and lived by… good or bad…. we carry these habits with us into adulthood. If eating extra was encouraged, “clean your plate!” was the mantra or poor nutrition was modeled you will have to work intentionally to build new lifestyle habits. I think perhaps of all things, breaking free of family habits is the hardest thing but it can be done.

I also think it’s important to know what your triggers are, what have you “conditioned” yourself to that you need to rewire? Do you stop at a gas station and automatically think you need soda and a candy bar? Are you a little hungry and think you need to go through the drive thru before you get home for dinner? or to have a more nutritious lunch?

That was a serious revelation for me years ago…. I don’t need to run through and get something… I WILL NOT… starve to death before I get home… I won’t… neither will you. I try and keep small snacks with me if I do need something. I’m not saying you should ignore those natural body signals, just learn to plan wisely and have better snacks than the local fast foods value menu.

Like any habit we develop in life, our relationship with food (how we eat, what we eat, how much) are all driven by habits we’ve allowed to settle into our lives. With persistence and determination, you can build and develop new habits to support your lifestyle change. The most important thing is to be determined and make these changes each day to lead to permanency.

Cordskinz Product Review

So I’m super excited to do my first product review. I’m more excited that it’s a product I definitely can use and will actually put to use.

When I was introduced to Cordskinz, a simple device to keep your ear bud wires from tangling, I was all over the idea….

Like… Yes, let me try it!

‘Cause here’s how it goes down with my Ipod…. I take it off, carefully wrap ear bud wires together, place in running bag. The next day, remove Ipod from bag and it looks like the wires have had a wild mating dance during the night ha… frustrating!

20150416_165146
Typical ear bud mess…. leaving you to untangle before you hit your workout.

Anyone else have that problem ?? Of course you do.

First of all the product is crazy easy to use and it comes in a variety of colors so if you’re like me and want to add some matching color to your workout gear they’ve got you covered.

I chose hot pink (of course) and lime green…. how fun 🙂

You can see in the picture you get a handy little “skinner” tool. Basically, you feed your wire through tool and it slips the skin over your wires. I took me maybe 5 minutes to get it all set up.

20150416_165347
What you get in package.
20150417_074732
Top….”skin” feeds through… ear bud side shows Cordskinz in place. Super simple.

I will say in the beginning, working out with it, that it felt heavier than just the thin wires, so there was a little adjustment time figuring out the best way to get it set up on me to keep everything in place…. once I did it was good to go…..

Now the most important thing… did the product do what it was supposed to do ?

I tossed it into my bag… didn’t even think about how I put it in… the next day… yay… no tangled wires…seriously….

20150416_165237

When I’m ready to get running or to my workout, messing with tangled cords is the last thing I’m really wanting to do….so can I say… I’m loving this easy to use product ?

Don’t take my word for it…find them on Facebook under “Cordskinz”, cordskinz.com or better yet, go get your own and stop messing with those crazy tangled wires.

Those Days In Life

Yes, I’m still alive. Yes, it’s been one of those weeks.

Life, you know ?

Life can throw things at you left and right, good and bad. Tell me you relate? That you understand and get it too ?

Somehow in the mix of life these past few days I’ve been distracted in my writing which bothers me ’cause writing really is an outlet for me. Yet there have just been times I’m hard pressed to connect two words together.

When I launched my blog my primary intent was to talk health, sane fitness and weight loss, lifestyle changes and new habits, and of course, running. You know how much I love to run =)

But there are so many other things in life that make up who we are and so, I will have times that I will address those topics as well.

Family, kids, happiness, grief, maybe even some life questions in the mix, oh yeah, and humor ’cause I get amused by some random things 😉

Topics to write on abound and so I will continue to share my passions of health, fitness etc but also those things we all contend with at one time or another in our lives.

Now, on with the show…..

Last week I was a lil excited THRILLED to get my first ultra medal and official ultra shirt ( does the word “first” imply there will be a second ??) the shirt… I decided with the color I could stop traffic with it or get a job as a highway worker 😉

I’m stupid proud of this medal. It represents a ton of hard work and sacrifice, and I don’t mean just running the 50K distance either.

20150410_114316
That Ultra medal…. and ignore the fact I look like a lemon

Also, March was my most productive racing month…..ever… since I started running… I got some cool runners bling to prove it too 😉 2 half marathons and the 50K….

20150410_115155
That runners bling…..

Ugh, my mileage has reallllyyy come down and I hate it. I think I hate knowing I’ll have to rebuild to that all over again. In a smart way I also know and understand my body must have recovery time from such heavy mileage. I’ll be hitting my bike more, doing boxing and some more weights to strength train and a few days running for awhile. I do have a marathon goal for year end so I know I need to give myself some lower mileage before I ramp it up again in a few months.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll never be the fastest out there or be the most impressive, but I hope to show that being older isn’t a reason to not be strong and physically fit. I hope to consistently encourage others to get out and do something, to find their “thing” and be good at it, to be empowered by what they can achieve and accomplish.

Really? Is there anything better or more rewarding than setting a goal for yourself that seems huge and daunting, and then, doing it ?? Crushing it ?

So now you know my plan to take over the world……

In other life news, things that kinda derailed me this week. My otherwise, seemingly healthy dog, turned sick and basically after an emergent trip into the vet on Sunday to see if she was having a reaction to some meds or if she was dehydrated, they informed me that she had liver and kidney failure and did I want to put her to sleep…. now ?

To say I was shocked is putting it mildly. No, I couldn’t do it then… I couldn’t go back home with a dead dog and not give my kids a chance to say good bye… I needed that too.. but I also knew if I loved her I would need to act on it quickly. Her condition just rapidly got worse.

Stella was a golden husky mix. At one point my sons dog, she came to stay with us till “he got settled somewhere else” the rest is history on that. In my early days of fitness when I walked, she came with me, as I started running, she easily kept up. She was never on a leash and loved running in and out of the hill country where I lived. She plowed up hills with me like it was nothing. Whatever she was mixed with, she was made for endurance.

As I got stronger, and my mileage increased I worried about her going farther from home. I started to leave her. She cried and howled in the beginning. She didn’t want to be left.

It was fitting at the end, it was just the two of us. I won’t lie. I loved that dog. She was quiet and laid back, lady like when she laid down with her paws crossed at the ankles. She had such thick, thick fur. It filled her ears which I loved to play with and pet.

Watching her go was as much painful, as a blessing to know she wasn’t in pain anymore. Taking her home, burying her, I sobbed and petted those ears over and over trying to commit them to my memory… knowing I’d never stroke them again…or see her keen eyes watching me… or laugh at the way her tail always curled in a jaunting way over her back.

Agony. Pain. Heartbroken.

I finally made myself leave her… pick up the shovel and finish the process. Even now two days later writing this, the grief is welling up in my heart.

I looked for her this morning. I looked for her last night. I know better. But I miss her presence.

I know from experience it will become less painful… less agonizing to think of…. right now it’s still raw… mainly I think… ’cause it came out of nowhere.

So yeah, life. Stuff happens, good and bad. It’s where I’ve been this week. Moments of triumph cloaked in moments of agony and pain.

I hope to be able to continue to chat with you about not only my passion for people to find their way to health and fitness, but also those other real life things that define and shape us.

Have you had particular moments in life that you know have shaped and defined you more ?

Another Drink Bartender

Flaming_cocktails

I know with my title I just picked up some new readers 😉

Let me make my usual disclaimer that the thoughts and opinions contained within are merely, my thoughts and opinions, and you my lovely reader, are entitled to yours as well.

I thought I’d chat a bit on alcohol. Alcohol, a substance loved and used by many, a substance that I personally don’t  use or care for.

Now please stick with me, this does have a health/fitness bend to it and I want you to know I don’t come at this topic from an overly zealous religious stand point, or any other wild angle.

I simply don’t like the stuff.

(Yeah, I heard some of you gasp) primarily, I don’t like what it would do to my body physically… nor do I consider it to be something that supports my health and fitness goals. I used to feel kinda awkward saying that to someone ( I don’t drink)  especially in this day in age where it’s so common. I totally got over that 😉

Oh don’t get me wrong, years ago, a lifetime ago, I tried to be a cool kid.

I mean, isn’t that what you do? I tried to like it, I did.

But then, without ingesting to much of the stuff I’d get all warm, and fuzzy, and wanna lean into something…or take a nap… I didn’t find that fun at all. And perhaps you’re saying….but that’s the good part! Ah, maybe so, but I didn’t like it.

The biggest thing I didn’t like ?  The idea of giving up control of myself to a substance.  No thank you.

Control freak? Perhaps, but that is definitely something I can call the um…shots… on… 😉

Not just that, but within personal circles, I’ve never, ever seen anything good come from it. I have seen it damage relationships, and health, and turn otherwise pleasant events, unattractive. Again, that’s not a selling point for me.

No judgment here… if you choose to… that is your choice….. just like choosing not to is mine.

Now from a health and weight loss perspective.

If you are on a quest to drop some weight and adult beverages are a key part of your life, you might examine more closely the calories that it contributes to your day.

Consider this : Alcohol has a relatively high caloric content (7 kcal/g) only fat has more calories per gram ( 9)  if you’re watching your weight you might want to know that a serving of wine is about 100 calories, beer about 150 and a typical Margarita is over 300 calories!

Also, unlike solid foods, alcoholic beverages fail to trigger the “fullness” response. It’s not surprising that regular consumption does make it difficult to avoid weight gain. Alcohol might also reduce inhibitions leading you to over eat.

You could see that daily consumption of alcohol, with more than a drink , can add unwanted calories, which can lead to extra weight gain.

On a health perspective : the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises… “those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation- defined as consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.”

Also important to note, on average, a healthy adult metabolizes the equivalent of one drink per hour. If someone drinks more than that, such as two or three alcoholic drinks in an hour, the liver is unable to “keep up”. The excess alcohol is released back into the bloodstream, through which it’s distributed to all body fluids and tissues, including the brain. Anytime you consume more than one alcoholic beverage per hour, you are exposing every tissue in your body to the toxic effects of alcohol.

Again, that sort of thing doesn’t support my health or fitness goals…. and if you’re looking to get on a healthier lifestyle, it won’t support your goals either.

Obviously, the more alcohol consumed can also contribute to other health related problems, or more serious alcohol issues. If you choose to drink, be educated and wise about the effects it can have on your health, and if you are focused on serious weight loss consider how alcohol might be slowing your efforts to success.

That Whole Body Image Thing

Ok, I’ve had this idea rolling through my head for a couple weeks on body image. All kinds of topics spring to my mind… can I say sometimes it’s a very busy place in there ??? 😉

Lots of times, those ideas come from all of you. You ask questions, you have concerns, you want to learn, and it gives me opportunities to share and hopefully encourage you.

Now onto the most recent thing taking up space in my head…. body image.

I’m gonna straight talk here, as I always do.

I was flipping through a fitness magazine at the store one day while waiting to check out ( I know, this comes as a total surprise to you;) and one of the titles on the cover really grabbed me… and not in a positive way…more like…it bugged me sorta way….

The title said “Banish Your Thunder Thighs Forever”.

First of all, what I thought was…. “OMG, that sounds like something a middle school boy would say”

I mean, really ? Thunder thighs ? On a major magazine cover ? Is that how you’re teaching women to talk to themselves ?

I did flip to the article which promised if you did all these moves you could have slimmer, leaner thighs. Now hear me out …. why is a girl who’s all about fitness bothered over this ?

Perhaps it’s that whole body image thing.

Having these ideas thrust at us that can affect how we feel overall about ourselves…. “you must look like this, be like that” to be happy with yourself.

First let me say, we all know when we are…well….fat.  Yes, I said that.  We know when our bodies have more on them than needed. We really do. As women, this is definitely an area where it can hang out (thighs).

I know, personally, for my entire life I’ve never had “skinny/thin” thighs. Never had the elusive “thigh gap” ( and unless you are built a specific way, you never will either, as if… that matters…. )

If you asked me a few years ago I would’ve had that on my list of what I hoped to achieve someday for myself…. glorious skinny thighs…. in todays terms… “fat-free” thighs 😉

But lets be honest…as women…. we are wired by God to carry a little extra fat through our lower body cause we have the privilege of carrying children. It tends to land anywhere from our waist/lower belly/hips/thighs…. we are all different in how it may be carried on us.

So what troubled me ? Maybe the title ? Maybe the implication that if you don’t have skinny thighs you have a perceived issue ? You’re flawed… lacking some value? You’ll somehow be better WITH less thighs ?

Let’s face it….you don’t have to look to long or hard at magazines to see “ideals” of what someone thinks you should be… ( and guys, I’m pretty sure you struggle with this stuff too… arms not big enough? want your chest/abs more ripped? less belly? it just seems to not be as shoved in your face. Please give me your male opinion if you feel so inclined;)

But if you are a woman….
breasts…. the bigger the better…. ( I’m just gonna be outspoken here and say…. they are over rated ….one benefit of losing body fat 😉  … I don’t mind not worrying about them exercising 😛

So you need large breasts, skinny thighs, curvy hips but not TOO curvy…. chiseled abs… ok you follow me….you’ve seen the covers… and if you don’t have that… you might be inadequate in some way. These “ideals” can subtlety make us unhappy.

When I started my fitness journey a few years ago I was like a lot of you……mad/annoyed/frustrated/irritated that I was in the place I was. I wanted to be thinner, overnight. I remember one day, looking in the mirror and talking some trash to myself (Please…don’t do this!) and God sorta brought me up short by reminding me that, yes, I might have some extra weight, but I did have a healthy body and should give thanks for it every day….love it… even if it needed to slim down.

It was convicting. I immediately did a head to toe “thank you” for how each part had/did faithfully serve me. I didn’t need to beat myself up. I needed to love and appreciate what I had been given, right where I was at and then, get on track to take care of it. That was a huge turning point for me. God loved me. I needed to love myself. And that meant honoring what he had given me by loving it and taking care of it.

Now, about those thunder thighs…….. Somewhere along this journey, my perspective changed… my perception of body image started to change….

Being strong and healthy began to take importance over being “skinny/thin”. Having muscle was more appealing than the ideal of just being “thin”.

You know what? My thighs have gotten thinner and leaner. Fat has been replaced with muscle. But get this…. I still don’t have “thin” thighs…

Leg pic My legs have gotten heavily muscled…..which makes some of my jeans fit really tight through that area now….I love my big strong muscles…. they have come from miles of pounding the road and running hills and hours of work with weights. Those legs continue to allow me to run long distances, and hopefully, they will for a long time. They let me tirelessly run after a 2 year old grandson 😉

Shhh…. you wanna know something ? I still have fat on my upper thighs…..and I might always….and it’s ok…..perhaps some might even think “thunder thighs”….. I don’t really care… ’cause I just want to be the best “me” that I can…. and at this point in my journey, I’m more concerned about how everything works and performs.

***pay attention here ***

the journey is about getting comfy, content, and confident in your skin…not living into societies “ideal”…. being happy with who you are… not trying to live up to someone else’s ideals. Know what YOU want, know your own personal goals and things you want to achieve…. and go for it.

Don’t worry about others …tend to you… love yourself….focus on being the best “you” that you can achieve.

Don’t be in denial over your reality….if you need to drop a few pounds… get real with it… take care of business. Seriously, foremost, for your health, do it and then anything else is a bonus.

But… while you are on your journey…love and appreciate the body God has given you… warts and all…… after all… there is no one else quite like you  🙂

Training Never Stops

Hey boys and girls =)

It’s now Easter evening while I’m writing this and it’s possible most of you are in a food and sugar coma by now.

I’m tired of food. My tummy is full.

Not that I ate vast amounts… it’s that random grazing through the day… or seeing someone with something that looks good and wanting a little… or the plethora of Easter candy to nibble on ..and before you know it you’re in that zone…the… ” I feel like a fat sea walrus” zone.

I don’t like that feeling anymore. In fact, I hate it. It makes me want to go running back to my sane, normal eating like a 2 year old running for candy.

My comfort zone… and I like that I have that place to go back to.. that I want to be there.

Sane. Balanced. Reasonable. Not needy. Controlled.

Yikes… did you notice I used running twice within the previous sentences?

Yes, I miss it..

What ?? You might be pondering… you run all the time….

Except I’ve been trying to be so good and let my body rest in a serious way.

That recovery thing…….. athletes need to embrace it as much as the physical activity. Intellectually, I get it. Physically, it can and does make me stir crazy. I read an article from an experienced marathon running coach and he suggested taking 1 day off for every mile of your most recent race.

31 days?! I don’t see that happening…. I’m a little over a week out….. legs feel good…. I’m planning to get out for some easy miles…. very soon…. I have a 10K set for May 2nd so I’m eager to get back out there and start working again.

You know what I miss though? I miss the perfect, ordered structure of training for a big event. I love looking at my running calendar and seeing miles already written in waiting to be done. I love how that structure and getting it done at the start of my day sets my day up already for being productive. In a sick way, I don’t mind the whole pile of running clothes from a weeks worth of work.

Training. There’s just something very comfortable about it. Maybe ’cause I love always being in training mode for an event. Or as mentioned, I love the structure of it. Let’s not forget it gives you the very focused goal of always being fit. It often offers it’s own set of challenges, perhaps far more than that actual event might offer.

Training is my life.

Is it no wonder then, when I came across this Nike shirt last year, I HAD to get it ??

20150406_143713-1

Because for me, its’ pretty much true. Training doesn’t stop and you know what ? I’m really ok with that. Training has built perseverance, dedication,  a little more stubbornness and commitment in me. It’s taught me how to goal set, make a plan, and deliver on it. It’s taught me sacrifice has to be made to reach those goals. It’s built strength in me that I never realized I possessed.

You know something? That all carries over into the rest of my life. Who would’ve thought ?

So yeah I’m ok with that. I’ve accepted it for what it is. I can hardly wait to start sketching out my marathon training in a few months =)

Confession time athletes. Is your training a lifestyle now for you ? Is it ingrained in you ? Just something you do ? Share with me… tell me I’m not alone 😉