Life Beyond The Weight Loss

It hasn’t taken long for me to realize through media, talking to people, and my own personal interactions that there is a whole lot of time spent focusing on weight loss, losing weight, ways to lose weight, how fast we can lose weight, and trendy diets to help us lose weight.

The weight loss/diet industry rakes in billions of dollars a year so we could even assume from those numbers people are hungry to accomplish this goal. ( oh I just made a cute pun, appreciate it 😉 )

Many will set out with good intentions only to always be on some kind of diet track or have the idea always on their mind they “have” to lose weight.

Many just give up and quit.

Others, others will get it. They will find the thing that works best for them. The “thing” that allows them to slowly, steadily drop weight, live life, not feel deprived and it will be sustainable long term.

They will cross the bridge that leads them to a lifestyle change. This is the only permanent thing that will last. They will find a healthy balance of all foods, learn the right amount they need to lose, then maintain that loss. They will have figured out that a their favorite meal or a treat here and there isn’t going to end their success, in fact, they will have figured out it can lead to their success.

This month marks my 8th year since I crossed over “the bridge”.  8 years of  not just losing it, but keeping it gone. It’s my celebratory month of figuring out what worked for me and getting out of the hamster wheel diet mentality/trap. I’ve learned so much about myself in these past few years. I’ve learned a lot about food, nutrition and exercise too.

Of course, just because this is the month I started the process doesn’t mean it’s when all things connected for me. That took some time, some patience, and some strong willed perseverance. It took a willingness to learn and experiment. To stumble and get up again.

Eventually, I hit a point where losing weight wasn’t such a focus anymore. I stopped my weekly check in’s with the scale. I stopped thinking or worrying every bite was gonna land on me like a ton of bricks. I stopped worrying about what size label my clothes carried.

I was in a good place.. the land of maintenance.

So what about those who “get it” who cross over into that understanding that the only thing that works forever and long term is a lifestyle change. It’s about losing the old lifestyle and mindset that got you there in the first place.  This means mentally, physically, and emotionally. An entire changed perspective on how to approach food, our relationship with it and finding the balance of eating just enough but not to much. It’s a better awareness on taking care of yourself.

Where do you go after weight loss?

In the beginning you’re so focused on the numbers changing, whether it’s your clothes or the scale it unwittingly becomes your main focus on the journey. Once you hit that point of being comfy you realize you need to have a new focus.

I’d say where I am now, as to where I was then, I’ve learned a lot more about food and nutrition.  Yes, you can lose weight with almost any foods as long as you are creating a daily deficit.

Losing weight comes down to having a negative expenditure each and every day. It’s just learning what to eat ( in a positive way) to contribute to the weight loss.

But there are things that start to happen in this process, in the “after” part of losing weight…

You really start to prefer healthy, nutritious foods

I was never a horrible eater  but I probably snacked on stuff that didn’t support my health and fitness goals like I do now. It has been a ongoing learned process, to intentionally select good foods over fast foods or some junk type of food.  In time your body really does begin to crave the good foods and you lose your taste for a lot of the things you used to find so desirable. I often eat salads now simply because I enjoy them, I crave the veggies, and it leaves me feeling energetic and not sluggish for my day.

By the time you get to a maintenance mode, you’ve learned more about the foods that got you there and don’t view eating that way as being deprived or missing out.

So yeah, you’re much more tuned in to how to eat and what to eat and you feel better not only physically, but mentally too when you do. Making good choices just makes you feel good all over.

You don’t dread those morning workouts anymore

I try and tell people this when they are wanting to start exercising. They seem to not believe me. I’m telling you, do it enough, it becomes a habit. And it turns into a habit you WANT to do. You anticipate them and you might even find yourself up for some new challenges you never thought possible. And you’ll get all kinds of energy from keeping at it. Not only that it builds your confidence, clears your mind, helps center you and gives you a new appreciation for what your body can do.

Speaking of energy

it’s fairly obvious, the less you have to drag around on your body during the day, the more energy you might have. Of course, if you’ve been exercising along the way that has been building your entire cardio system so you’ll feel more energetic in your daily tasks without huffing and puffing so much and as well during your purposeful exercise.  I just love having the energy to still hang with my young 20something kids if we’re up late ( they freely admit I have more energy than they do) or to be able to play in the pool with my grandson catching him ( over, and over, and over ha) as he comes off the water slide. And in a weird way, energy seems to breed energy, so the more you do the more you seem to produce. It’s a good feeling.

Clothes shopping anyone?

ok I’m a girl and it goes without saying, I can be drawn in by lots of pretty things. It’s even more fun when all the pretty things fit great and look good ( hmmm maybe that isn’t a good thing) it’s just an enjoyable experience.  I really do love fun, trendy fashion, a lot. There were times in the past I didn’t want to shop nor did I find it nearly as fun as I do now.  Shopping is just much more enjoyable when you are rewarded with fitting into smaller clothes for your efforts.

You might find yourself inspiring others or giving advice

In a weird turn of events, what started off as me doing my own thing to lose weight and get on a healthy lifestyle change has morphed into being here talking to you ( my blog) as well as sharing things on my other social media sites, and encouraging/helping people who ask me questions on everything from nutrition to how to start running and all things in between.  I think that’s like, a super cool thing. My desire always is that if someone can see I’ve done it, they can do it too. There’s nothing I love more than seeing someone “get it” and start on their own journeys.

The rest of your life

I guess it goes without saying, being at a healthy weight, exercising to keep your body strong and fit and eating good foods to support that will go a long way to letting you live a full, healthy life. Hopefully without diseases or ailments that can plaque people who carry extra weight or lead a sedentary lifestyle.   Being a strong, healthy you means the ability to live a active life to enjoy your family and all the adventures you want to have with them.

Strong. Healthy. Fit. Energetic. Active.

I’d say those are some pretty good goals to have in the long run far beyond the weight loss.

 

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Celebrating 8 years of  living a strong, fit, healthier lifestyle
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What’s Your Next

whats your next

 

Happy Monday beautiful people!  Even as I write that I’m aware in the crazy way the universe rolls, it’s actually the end of Monday for some of you on this planet and you are now preparing for Tuesday.

This can be a bit much for my brain to process so I’ll just leave it here and say I hope you’ve had an awesome day no matter what it technically is.

For me though, it’s Monday. Monday morning.

And for the record I’m not “anti-Monday”. I’m glad I’m blessed to still be here, to experience another day of life.

Perspective people, perspective.

My last few Mondays, and today, and the next several will be heavy training days for me. I kick start my week by doing the entire duathlon course start to finish. It does seem rather daunting when I’m slowly coming to life waiting for the coffee to brew wondering if I’m gonnna churn out all the energy this task in front of me will require.

Of course that is my non-coffee brain thinking. Once I wake up more and slip into my gear I’m all business and ready for the task at hand.

Weeks remain till race day. I’m already feeling that edginess that comes over me as an event approaches.

It’s not just the race, it’s the awareness that all of it will be… over.

I’m well acquainted with the feelings and emotions of preparing for a big athletic event and the inevitable let down of emotions when it’s done.

There is something that can’t be explained in the preparation and training ultimately culminating in this event I’ve prepared for.

In those miles and hours of training leading up to it, there is a sort of hunger that develops. A hunger that really is disguised as passion.  To see myself improve, make better times, take things on a bit more effortlessly as my body adapts to the rigors of what it’s being put through.

Honestly, it’s a bit addicting.

All the while in my mind though is the question… “what’s next?”

That question can taunt and challenge. It can intimidate and have a level of fear. It can also be the thing that makes me examine how much more I can bring to the table.

What’s my next thing

It’s never far from my mind. I’ve been asked if I’m gonna do a marathon again. Ha, I will most likely start with a half to warm up to it.

Yes, I love distance running and I love what it’s taught me and how I’ve grown from my experiences on the road.  In some crazy ways, I’ve missed it.

Obviously, training for the duathlon, my athletic goals have been much more laser focused. My running has been shorter and geared to my event. Not to mention, doing a multi sport race requires my body to perform in different ways so I need to keep my energies centered on that.

But I’m heading back to distance running. Maybe a spring half marathon…we’ll see. I already have fully acknowledged I’m gonna miss those brick training days ( combined running and cycling back to back) I’ve come to enjoy the challenge and hard work of them and I may just keep one built into my training week… because… duathlons. 😉

What’s your next thing

ok this has been leading somewhere. Let’s talk about you.

Do you work and strive for something specific without a thought to where do you go from there?

How do you continue to grow, change and challenge yourself?

Do you see your current endeavor as a learning process to get to a new level?

Yeah I know, not everyone is doing something athletic oriented, but you for sure, have goals or dreams something you’re pressing on towards.

I’ve loved every step of the journey I’ve been on that’s built me as an athlete ( well, most steps haha) I’ve accepted it’s where I am at that moment.

You as well should embrace your journey to your goals.

But for all of us we should never lose sight of the fact we can always do more, be more, achieve more.

Maybe I’m wired a bit more intensely. Maybe the physical challenges I’ve put myself through have only caused me to wonder… what else am I capable of?

You know, that statement applies to you too, right?

What else are you capable of? How big can you dream? What new thing can you take on?

That next step

Don’t get me wrong. That next step once you hit a goal might actually scare you, and that’s ok.

I had 4 half marathons under me without a single thought to running a full one. I mean come on, that’s 26.2 miles! It was when I finished my fifth and walked off the course with my best time ever that the idea floated into my mind…

“It’s time to consider a full marathon”

I shoved it out of my head and dismissed the idea as a lack of carbs to my brain for the crazy thought.  Really. There’s no way I’d do a full marathon.

That was in the spring, and by end of year, I had my first one under me.

I had only a fleeting thought after I committed of wondering “if” I could do it. I stomped it out and never let myself think I couldn’t.

A few pointers

Nothing in our lives accidently happens. If you want to do something, you’ve got to be intentional.

~ Set your new goal.  I’m still so old fashioned and love writing stuff out where I can see it. Use a calendar to make reminders or things you need to do daily or weekly.

~ See yourself doing it.  Don’t allow any idea to creep in that makes you doubt yourself. Your mind is a powerful playing field!

~ Engage with like minded people who can encourage you on your journey.

~ Be the best student you can of what you are pursuing… always be learning!

~Don’t be afraid of new challenges. These bring us more growth.

Getting to the next step might be big and scary and we might wonder if we have what it takes.

You do. We all do.

Enjoy your journey, embrace where you are, but never stop asking “what’s next”.

 

 

 

Holiday Survival Guide

holiday survival

I’m struggling to grasp the fact we are nearly two weeks into October already.  Like where has the year vanished to? October heralds the start of all things “holiday” in the commercial realm here.

I’m not sure what it’s like in the rest of the world, but here in the U.S. it’s become sadly common place the last few years for stores to just throw all holidays together like some huge smorgasbord you just go in and pick from.

Why yes, I want to look at Christmas trees and lights while I’m picking out orange and black Halloween candy.

Back in the day when I was a wee little girl ( a really long time ago ha) there was a general appreciation for each holiday. It was recognized and then you moved to the next one. The official start to Christmas was after Thanksgiving and you didn’t go get your tree till December.

I’m remember my grandparents being shocked when the neighbor put theirs up before December one year.

One just didn’t break Christmas rules by putting the tree up to early.

And Thanksgiving, well that’s just about swept under the rug and barely given a nod to. If you’re lucky you may find some turkey napkins and fall leaves squished into a small area on one single aisle.

By the way….Do you know Canada has Thanksgiving in October??? Like they just had it… weird… although I was a little jealous they were already having turkey… but I digress….

This isn’t a post about me whining on how commercialized the “holiday” season (Oct-Dec)  has become or how I wish things were simpler, although I do.

No, this is a little post about having a survival fitness guide for the “holiday season”.

I saw the first meme the other day… you know.. one that’s designed to make you feel like a guilty loser for enjoying foods or treats for the holiday? Get out there and work off your food!

Yeah, I think those are awesome too… not really.

I think they are designed to steal your joy over something that should be fun and celebratory, isn’t that what holidays are about?

Family? Food? Friends? More food?

That’s what life is about.

However, all of us want to navigate through these upcoming months and not look like the Butterball turkey come January.  You really can go through these months and not gain weight, I promise.

When I started on my health journey, it was mid October. I stayed the course all through the rest of that year and when I checked in with my doctor in January I had lost 20 lbs.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, I didn’t starve myself or do without. I ate normal almost all of those days, I enjoyed the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I baked, I ate cookies, I nibbled on my favorite chocolate treats, and I enjoyed the season.

I also stayed true to my exercise at the time, every day. I didn’t treat each day like it was a party that I needed to over eat on, I ate in moderation. I didn’t eat till I was miserable on the actual holiday.

I wore form fitting clothes to remind me of my goals. Crazy I know but it works. Trust me, you are much more aware of your body and how you are eating.

So I want you to have your own personal survival guide

This is gonna look different for all of us. It will vary by our goals, our lifestyle and what we are trying to achieve. I’m assuming, you really don’t want to add any extra weight to you.. that’s why you are here.

First of all, if you fall in the camp of already throwing the towel in and proclaiming “I’ll start in January!”

Stop. It.

Seriously, stop thinking like that. There are only a few days in these upcoming months that would be out of the norm for eating purposes. You have days of normal life going on there are no reasons to toss in the towel and view these months as an eating binge.

And… I’ve just told you I lost weight through these months so I know it’s possible. Either that or you maintain your weight.

Next, exercise.

If you aren’t yet at least get out and start walking. Regardless, you want to make time in your day for that. It not only helps with the weight issue more importantly it keeps you sane and focused on days that get busy with all the hustle of the holidays.

One of my fav things I’ve done every Thanksgiving since I started getting myself in shape, is getting up early for a sunrise run.  It centers my mind on what the day is about, let’s me think of all I’m grateful for and blessed with, burns off some calories and energizes me for the long busy day I’ll have as Chief cook and Dessert Master 😛

Food.

Oh there are so many delicious things to sample aren’t there? And pie. Glorious, delicious pie.

I eat the things I love the most. I don’t worry so much about the other stuff. I don’t eat it because “it’s there”. I feel no obligation to eat everything that’s put out, you shouldn’t either. If you can’t really stand Grandma’s sweet potato casserole with gobs of marshmallows, for heavens sake, leave it behind!

I don’t feel deprived or left out. I have what I want in small portions.. with so much food available it doesn’t take much to fill a plate.  I detest that over full feeling so I really try and keep away from doing it.

You need to make your plan now

~ determine what you will and won’t do. This puts you in charge and not just being bounced along day to day,

~ on the actual day be mindful of how you eat. Listen to your body. Trust me, there will be food for days so you don’t need to eat it all at once.

~ don’t over eat or eat “bonus” foods on random days. Eat normally and respect your decisions you’ve made.

~ don’t feel obligated to eat everything that’s put out. Be selective in what you want.

~ do try and limit alcohol and keep your water intake up.

~ do commit to daily exercise.

~ do enjoy your family traditions and foods. Don’t get hung up on how many calories are in things.

~ do remember, you can’t “work off” things you’ve already eaten.  It’s done. Move forward and work out sensibly.

~ do listen to your body. If it’s telling you “enough” then learn to stop. Like I said, food will be around for days 😉

~finally, do set a small goal for yourself to achieve at the end of the season. If you have something you’re mindful of, you will be more likely to stay focused on it.

Make sure you check back in the upcoming weeks for a few more tips and motivation to keep strong and fit through this season.

With some planning, awareness of yourself and each day, you can move through these months enjoying yourself, staying positive, and maybe even dropping a few pounds in the process.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to stay on track during the holidays?

 

 

Your Schedule And Exercise

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Meetings. School, work, volunteer groups seems like no matter what kind of group you may be involved with at some point they have meetings you attend. Some you may be able to get out of but something like, work, you really don’t get an option.

When you have a meeting with the boss you better make sure your happy little self is there ready to do what needs to be done.

A scheduled meeting with yourself to get your sweat on should be no different.

I’ve been asked how I manage to “stick with” exercise. I’ve been told that my “dedication” is to be admired. Often the person I’m talking with is wanting to know what the magic potion is that has helped me maintain my exercise regime for 8 years now.

I hate to tell you, but there isn’t any magic potion.

In the beginning it involved some whining and complaining ( to myself) but I made myself  go do it.

And those are accurate words… made myself.

No athletic clothes, no heavy sweating, no techie gear, no athletic goals dancing in my head. Just a decent pair of shoes, I’d dutifully walk off my 2 miles.

I wasn’t excited about doing it. I did it because I knew I needed to and if I wanted to live a healthy life I would move my body purposefully every single day.

I made a commitment to it. If I couldn’t do it in the morning ( my preferred time) then I’d come home in the afternoon, change shoes, and go get it done.

In time something crazy started happening….

I don’t remember exactly when the shift occurred. The shift from dutifully doing it and checking it off my list, to something I looked forward to and began to guard and schedule as anything else important in my life.

In a 24 hour span of time, my workouts sessions were my time I scheduled with myself.  I learned to view them as important as anything else I’d be doing in my day.

I learned to structure the rest of my day and appointments around my scheduled workout time, allowing for clean up and getting to my destination.

Some mornings are tight but I’ve become a wizard at transforming from sweaty, grime crusted athletic girl to someone who smells clean and looks respectable in an almost Ninja fast way.

Why? Because those meetings are important to me. They set the tone for my day. Workouts wake up my body, clear the night cobwebs and get my blood flowing. If I miss it, I honestly feel “off”.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.

When you commit to something and faithfully follow through it turns into this crazy thing called… a habit. Once that habit is established it doesn’t cross your mind to make excuses to not do it.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road and putting miles under me is a great way to learn things about myself.

I haven’t learned those things by not keeping my scheduled meetings to be there.

Over these past years I’ve seen what I’m made of when I have to dig deeper into myself for the challenge in front of me. I’ve learned I can continue to push past limits and head to new ones, and then push past those too.

In keeping those meetings with myself, fitness has taught me so much.

I’ve learned more about discipline, consistency, hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, goal setting, the strength of not just my body ( which at times I’m amazed at what it can do) but how it’s forged a fierce mental toughness in me which comes in handy for the rest of life. I’ve learned with training and determination I can do things I used to think were only for an elite group of people.

And in a cool way, I learned that I was pretty good at it.  Something else I would’ve missed out on not keeping those early morning meetings with myself.

So what suggestions do I give to people?

As mentioned above, that is one of the things I get asked mainly because I think people do find it so hard to stick with. They want ideas and help to get rolling (and hopefully ) staying with it.

They have a genuine desire but I hear them, it’s hard in the beginning! You have to fight back against all the things that come at you, especially yourself.

Excuses can be easily made to justify not getting it done. Work, family, school, other activities all clamor for our attention and we wonder if it isn’t easier to just let it go.

So here are my pointers, for what it’s worth.

~Determine what time of day is best for you. This will be a totally personal thing depending on the schedule of your life and if you function best in the morning or evening.  Find a time.

~ Start with something you enjoy doing.  You will stay with it if you actually like what you do. And why you’re doing that, be thinking of something else you can do. Having a couple activities keeps boredom from setting in.

~ Just start. Don’t wait for Monday or till after a holiday or your grandmothers birthday. Just get up and start.

~ There are days you’re gonna think you’re to tired. Do it anyway. You’ll feel invigorated I promise.

~View it as important as anything else in your day and don’t allow it to not get done. ** I will say here, sometimes life just happens, even for me. If things go beyond your control and it just doesn’t, just regroup and get at it again the next day.**

~ Zealously guard your time. In the beginning when I started exercising I kept at it because I felt like the alcoholic who, if they had a drink would fall off the wagon. Only I worried if I made an excuse one day, then it would lead to another day, and I’d find myself in the land of excuses again for dropping my exercise habit. Honestly, it scared me enough to make me stay at it. Sometimes a little fear doesn’t hurt.

~ Consistency and discipline have payoffs. Not just the side effects of helping you lose weight or how your physique may change with it, but you will build that discipline into a new habit, and new habits have this crazy way of sticking.

~ Be kind to yourself. Remember an unexpected set back or off day isn’t a reason to forget the idea. Several years ago I hurt my knee, and no, not from running. It was from learning to ride a motorcycle 😛 the doctor wanted me off running for 6 weeks. I was devastated. But I was more terrified with that much time off I’d be out of my routine and not want to go back to it. Not true. I counted the days and when I got back on the road for the first time, I literally cried. ( something I do not recommend as running with a snotty nose hinders your breathing a bit haha 😉 ) I cried to be back out. I cried that my desire hadn’t gone away. I cried for the pure freedom of doing something I had been learning to love.

That’s when I realized that exercise thing really had stuck.

Yes, there are days now I wake up and as my brain is focusing on my training for that morning I think am I gonna have all I need to do this ? Of course that’s my “foggy, I haven’t had coffee yet to remind me that, yes I do” brain speaking.

I do have all I need. I love what I can do and am thankful to be able to do it. I’m thankful I pushed on in those early days and didn’t quit.

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This is what happens when you stick with exercise. You’re snapping a selfie after finishing your first round through the entire duathlon course. #runbikerun

 

If you’re struggling to get started understand we’ve all been there. Just make a commitment to yourself and get rolling with one day at a time. Schedule your meetings with yourself and before you know it, you’ll be eager to show up for them.

Tell me have you overcome the lack of exercise in your life? How did you do it? Or is this an area you still struggle with ?

~

The Madness And Fear Of Endurance Sports

“Every endurance challenge scares me just a little.” ~ Dean Karnazes

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon. Everyone has left the house so I escaped to my fav coffee cave to write, reflect and think about the week in front of me. It’s hard not to think about the fact that next week on this day, at the time I’m sitting here writing, I will be in the church watching my oldest son get married.

I’m also aware 2 months from today is my first duathlon. Heck, it’s my first ever race on a bike. It’s also listed as the toughest duathlon in the state AND the championship race.

What… on earth.. am I doing in it ?

I decided a while back that there is a certain amount of madness involved with endurance sports.  Some part of the brain has to change that allows you to accept physically hard and challenging things as normal.

As in, sharing with some ladies in my yoga class last week that I hadn’t ridden far the day before, just 16 miles, to which they started laughing and informed me that 16 miles was a lot.

I really don’t think so anymore. I don’t think my 20 mile rides are long either.  This is where the madness might be setting in 😉

I will be the first to admit, sometimes it’s not just the distance, it’s also what’s IN those miles that carves out something new in me. Obviously, riding flat roads is usually a piece of cake, throwing in hills and inclines that challenge my body is always a game changer.

It’s definitely a love/hate relationship.

There’s a crazy madness in training my body, learning it’s limits, and then pushing past those limits that’s exhilarating… yeah… we’ll just go with that word for now 😉 Exhilarating.

Endurance is built on hours and hours of consistent training, constant change, and a large part of stubbornness.

When someone laughs and tells me I’m “crazy” based on my current athletic goals, I do believe they are right. There has to be some sort of madness that makes an otherwise sane person believe that riding and running miles on end is somehow… normal.

But alongside the madness is another parallel attribute which is fear.

The quote I opened with is so true and so perfect. And it comes from without a doubt, the strongest, most fit, endurance athlete on the planet.

I feel like I’m in good company if Dean Karnazes admits he gets a bit scared with a new endurance challenge. Admittedly, he does far larger, longer, crazier and insane endurance challenges than I will ever face but at the same time, if someone like that admits to a healthy fear of new endurance events, then I’m in good company.

When I use the word fear I don’t mean like, sitting in a corner shaking and helpless. If that were the case, I’d never be doing what I do. This fear, in my opinion, is one of perhaps a healthy respect of what I’m up against. A recognition that this new challenge has the potential to eat my lunch, and me too for good measure.

There is respect for the miles, the terrain, the elevation, climate, everything.

There is a healthy fear for new territory that has never been physically traveled. Each time I’ve set out to do something new athletically, there’s that “fear” of the unknown.

The “what if’s”……

What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t have what it takes? What if I’m not as good as someone else? ( does that even matter?) What if I haven’t trained enough? Long enough? Hard enough? What if I didn’t prepare in the right way? Am I going to be able to ride such a tough course and then get off and run those last few miles strong?

All of the “what if’s” are related to fear.

Even now, on my training rides, knowing how tough they will be, I usually have that in the pit of my stomach. That fearful respect of knowing how hard it really will be, and wondering again, if I have all that’s required to take on this new endurance challenge.

Somehow, things always seem to change the minute I’m out on the road.  In my gear, clipped in, the miles settling in under me, my mental gears shift along with the ones under my hands.

I focus on the mile I’m in, the road that’s in front of me. I know and have already mentally apprehended the hills and mountains I’ll be riding and remind myself that I’ve already done them before, the challenge is to keep taking them stronger and faster. The fear begins to give way to what I know I’m capable of.

Fear gives way to strength and power. Fear gives way to me understanding that although it’s not easy, it will begin to feel that way the stronger my body gets doing it over and over again.

And then it happens.

I finish a long hard session and feel victorious, empowered and strong. I also feel dirty, sweaty, and hungry.

But the overarching feeling is one of accomplishment. I did it again. The hard workout that planted a healthy fear of respect in me, reminds me I can do whatever I put myself to and that my body is capable of being pushed, and then pushed again, well out of it’s original comfort zone.

By the time some of you are reading this I’ll be out riding the entire course this morning, or will have finished it, another notch in my belt.  This will be my first full and complete ride on it. Last week I did it but the mileage came up a bit short from what the race was. A quick message to race director and I learned the turn point was farther down than I thought. So knowing the exact layout this morning, I’m taking it on.

I know it won’t be easy. I know there will be that niggling fear of the toughness in front of me. I know what the outcome will feel like, so I will press on and push myself into the realm of discomfort, because that is where change occurs.

Endurance sports. ..an odd mixture of madness and fear.  I seem to have both in spades which will help me well in my upcoming race.

The madness will keep me going, building longer training sessions and adding more miles. The fear won’t stop me. I will train, I will prepare, and I will go out and do the best I’m capable of.

And I when I cross that finish line it will be a sweet victory knowing all I stomped down to get to that moment, and it will be worth it.

Do you have something you want to pursue but feel a bit of fear with it? Do you embrace that or shy away from it?  If you do endurance sports, can you relate to a bit of the madness?

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Getting those miles in……

Yoga, Again.

Yoga. I’m at it again. Well, I’m attempting to be at it again perhaps I should say.  I went to some classes a year or so ago and have been doing my own thing.

I took home what I learned and at night while I watched some tv I’d get on the floor and roll out my muscles and then put some of those moves into practice. It felt rather nice to stretch and work my body in a different way than what my usual fare was.

But I haven’t done any organized classes since then… until now… and I’m thinking it will make a good “rest day” activity.

With all my training for the duathlon, I am definitely kicking my own tail and figured a little yoga could keep me loose for doing what I love.

Last week was my first class. Or is it? Is it my first class or a continuation of what I had already learned ?? ha

20170824_074243
Hair and make up done with my athletic clothes?? I feel like a poser haha  Off to my first ( in awhile) yoga class…

 

 

Anyway, it all came back to me really fast. And I quickly remembered a few things about it…

Yoga is a lot more slow paced

I’m fairly high energy and thrive on it athletically. Coming into a yoga class where all the sudden it’s single moves, being held, and a focus on my breathing …. yeah… a different game from flying down the road on a bike or running for miles.

There’s a reason why yoga is all about a turning inward, an inner mental focus and stillness.

It is a physically and mentally calming activity. I will freely admit it takes some work to rein in my active thoughts and just key in on what I’m doing, how I feeling, my breathing , and nailing whatever pose we are being led in.

Yoga forces me to slow down.

But before we go on… what IS yoga… exactly?

Maybe when you hear the word the mental image comes to you of a seasoned man sitting on top of a mountain lost in meditation for days on end.

I tease, but I’m sure there are images you may get when you hear the word.

Yoga is an ancient practice that has become increasingly popular. it is a meditative practice that leads you to focus on your inner self and to quiet your mind and thoughts.

Supposedly the reason why there are no mirrors in classes is so that you can focus on what you are doing and not be worried about what you or your neighbor look like in a pose.

The goal during yoga is to challenge yourself physically but not feel overwhelmed. At this point your focus is on your breath while your mind is accepting and calm.

I know from what I do on the road, how very important my breathing is to what I do. Deep, even  paced breathing serves me well not only on the long stretches, but more importantly when I’m doing things like taking on big hills when I need my breathing strong and even and not shallow and rapid.

BUT get me in yoga pose, and I need to remind myself to breathe! ha

So the act of yoga is to quiet us, to quiet and relax our minds as well as our bodies. It’s almost humorous to me writing that line… because some of those moves are just flat out hard and not necessarily “relaxing” for me although it seems to come later after I’ve been stretched out well. Maybe it’s ’cause I’m still new at it and in time I will reach that perfect state immediately.

Are there other benefits to yoga?

Besides the obvious benefits of relaxation and mental clarity there are many benefits to actively practicing yoga.

On a physical level, yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance.

About that strength thing… I remember my first class finding out how many moves really do require a great deal of strength. It was nice to have some strength to fall back on in those poses. I can see with consistent effort, yoga would build more body strength.

On an energetic level, yoga teaches you how to cope better with stress by cultivating a sense of ease in both active or passive poses.

On a psychological level, yoga helps to cultivate mindfulness by shifting your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose or exercise.

Trust me, you are aware of the sensations holding some of those poses!

Yoga is also good for circulation, improved posture, flexibility, it could help with fighting arthritis, builds muscle strength, protects your spine, and  yoga could also help you become a more conscious eater as you become more mindful of yourself. Yoga can also help you become more focused as you have to learn to focus on the present. It can also improve your balance and better balance means less falls. This is especially a problem as we get older. Practicing balance moves could prevent falling.

Also, another by product of yoga is deep sleep, some studies suggest. Of course I’ve found long rides or runs can also contribute to it as well 😉

My yoga goals

If I want to have a flexible, loose body for the things I do on the road, yoga will be good to help keep my body loose and flexible.

Going to a once a week class will solidify moves in my head and then I can continue to use it as a rest/recovery activity in the evenings.

I need time to slow down in a physical way. Yoga reminds me that my high energy needs to be tempered sometimes and that’s ok.

I want to stay bendable! My instructor had us in this pose that was almost a half split and she encouraged us that with a little practice it would come to us. I did the splits ages ago but you know, I grew up and stopped doing stuff like that.

Back bends, head stands, the splits… activities we seem to put away as we get older. She said she never stopped doing them.

It was a reminder to me, and to all of us really, if we want to keep using our body and have it be strong and flexible, we need to always be using it.

Age isn’t an excuse to not use our bodies.

Stretching, bending, pushing ourselves a bit more shouldn’t be limited to a time in our lives, but it should be something we do ALL our lives to be strong and productive so we aren’t limited  in the physical bodies we live in.

Use it or lose it.  I don’t want to lose it.

It’s why we get weak, we don’t use our bodies to lift, bend, stretch and move.  It’s why we stop being able to run because we act like it’s an activity for just the playground. It’s why we allow ourselves to sit on the sidelines as we get older because we haven’t used our bodies in the way they are meant to be used.

And a few of my favorite poses I realllllyy like….

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Childs pose. This is my go to move to just stretch my back, shoulders and spine. This is a “rest” move during yoga. It feels amazing.

 

front fold
Front fold. I love this for stretching out my legs and believe it or not, hanging upside down can feel really good.

 

yoga poses - Tree Pose position (vrksasana)
Tree pose. Excellent for balance practice. This is fairly easy for me but I attribute it to all those single dead lifts I do 😉

 

warrior
I saved my favorite for last. I love all of these poses. They do require a great deal of strength and maybe I enjoy doing them because they feel strong and powerful.

 

 

Tell me. Are you a yoga lover? Have you tried it before? Or actively practice it now? What benefits have you seen with it ?

 

 

 

 

Transformation: It’s The Small Things

As I’ve meandered along these past years on what I refer to as my “journey” in fitness and nutrition,  I’ve had opportunity to talk to a lot of people who are on the same path, or trying to stay on it.

Some are successful and have found the right “blend” that works for them, the thing that is sustainable allowing them to keep after it day after day and still live their life.

Others are still struggling, battling against various issues that push them back from staying on that road to success.

I’ve seen people excitedly get started and then I’ve watched the excuses start creeping in. Excuses for eating poorly or not getting exercise. Excuses for why there isn’t a loss on the scale.  These reasons seem justifiable to them.

And I know as well as anyone how you have to battle back against excuses that creep in and try to side track you.  Because in the beginning, they always do. And it’s easy to give into them because you haven’t been grinding it out long enough to make these things a habit.

You haven’t been doing enough purposeful exercise so it’s easy to tell yourself that missing today won’t matter… until it bleeds into the next day… and the next… and then you aren’t doing it at all.

You haven’t trained yourself to turn a blind eye to the box of donuts in the office break room or pass on eating seconds because you mentally know and understand these practices won’t support your current health goals.

So many things go into our success ( or lack thereof) when it comes to our health and fitness goals.

So many things must be done and built into new habits to contribute to our success. Without building these skills, we will keep sliding back to where we’ve always been.

It takes a measure of discipline, hard work, and the ability to have days we fall and get back at it.

It’s all those small things we do consistently that lead us to where we want to be.

If there’s one thing that stands out working with people ( and those who get discouraged and give up) it’s this….

No matter what you tell someone, those small things, done daily, add up.

Unfortunately, they have thoughts that all their weight will magically go away in a week or two, forgetting they’ve been adding it on for months or years.

They start exercising and get frustrated that their body is reminding them it hasn’t done work like this in a long time, if ever. And trust me, if you don’t think you’re “out of shape” before you start an exercise program, you do when you’re body is gasping for air or aches the day after you’ve done something.

It is enough to make you want to quit before you even get started.

Raise your hand if you’ve been there. Yeah, I have too.

But when you decide you’re in it for the long haul, and you settle in to just living life, and then you just do those things that need to be done as a part of your life, changes will happen.

It’s the small things.

Yeah,  I know in the world we live in today it’s all about instant gratification, quick results, no discomfort, and easy results.

Sorry. It just doesn’t play out like that in regards to  health and fitness.

Small choices we make, small moves we make, small daily consistencies, add up.

I was thinking the other day, plowing up hill after hill doing a 5k run for the duathlon how doing it was  hard work, but work my body has adapted to and learned to respond to. My heart and breathing are strong but not in that horrible way when I was out of shape.  I also have a fast recovery heart rate now as well so when I finish, it doesn’t take long at all to be breathing normal again or have my heart rate back in a much lower zone.

Of course it wasn’t always like that. When I first started taking on hills, depending on size, I’d maybe do part way up, and then reverse my route. As I got stronger I walked strongly all the way up. As my cardio system got stronger too, I could walk them and not have my heart pounding so fiercely or be breathing as hard like a fish out of water.

Eventually, I was just all out running them. It’s such a cool feeling when my body just kicks in and does what it’s been trained to do.

The steep grade of the hill and how my legs feel pushing up it. How my body position shifts. How my breathing changes to a deep even rhythm to push on.

Small choices and activities led me to that point. Small choices also led to weight loss, getting stronger and doing more athletically.

I cant stress enough to you… if you’re on a mission to get fit, to get healthier, to lose weight. to train for an Ironman, whatever your goals are… those small choices you make each day will get you to where you’re going.

You might feel like what you do today doesn’t matter or it’s not “changing” anything. You might feel like that longer morning walk wont  result in anything or skipping on that extra treat won’t matter, but it does. Do that in a week, you’ve made progress.

And don’t forget, there is SO much going on inside you that you don’t see. Changes, growth, energy being built from what you’re doing, fat leaving, muscles growing. Your body beautifully adapting to the new changes you are putting it through.

All from those small, daily, consistent things you do.

Don’t give up. Don’t quit.

The reward is big when you don’t.

small changes