Who Are You Running Against?

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It has been so long since I have written a post that my blog page fell off my commonly clicked sites. Hmm…Time to write. My lack of writing has not meant lack of living, thinking, or cooking. Just distracted with new developments.

Recently we discovered that I am pregnant…again with our now third child. This has been an exciting curveball, as I also signed up for my first half marathon. My swollen feet will be lined up at the starting line in just 2 weeks, 6 days, 22 hours…etc. This is not how I imagined things would be happening, but here we are. It has been a real challenge to keep up my regimen for training. Honestly it has dwindled down to a few strength and agility exercises here and there, along with the occasional run. Never have I felt more disappointed in my efforts. What only helps is when my eyes pass over a story about a 9-month pregnant rock star who runs a marathon and delivers a few hours later. What human strength and perseverance!

Then something occurred to me. A new perspective was brought about after a recent 5k. The crowd was huge and people of all sorts of fitness levels came out for the fun run, but for me I pay to compete with myself. Or so I thought. All this time of training and years of hitting the pavement I have been comparing myself to the best I know. Their performances push me to achieve as good a performance. When I fall short of whatever unrealistic expectation I set, the belt tightens and more rigorous guidelines apply. Perfection has kind of always been something I knew I could never be. I’m too ____(You name it)___. However, I somehow deceived myself into thinking that if I were only ___(You name it)___ I would be able to meet these ridiculous goals.

Before you get worried that I am a highly demanding person, you have to know that I am only this way with myself. When it comes to others my eyes are pretty accurate and I tend to extend others far more grace. My husband says that when I look at myself it is like looking into a fun house mirror. The races I have been running up to this point have been races against myself by comparing myself to unrealistic expectations. For this race I decided to change my mentality. This race I accepted that I am pregnant and haven’t been at my best. The race I run needs to be against the self I am now and not the person I wish I could be.

Crossing the finish line of the 5k, an amazing feeling swept over me. My eyes glanced at the timer and it said a time of 23 minutes. This was not my fastest time, but somehow it was acceptable. The old me would reprimand myself all the way home and come up with a solution to fix it for next time. This time being healthy and carrying a baby was success enough.The other runners began to fade from my concern and being strong in the moment became at the forefront of my mind during the run.

One friend reminded me in a conversation recently that you never know how you will feel on race day, and that feeling is a big indicator of your time and performance. Sometimes training your mind is an important factor forgotten in race prep. To be healthfully competitive, you have to race against who you are today. Maybe in a session you had a 5:30 min/mile, but the day before the race you sprained a muscle or became ill. Is it fair to beat yourself up for not performing as well as your best training time? Think of the successful races as a reward for your training and not just what you run for.

No matter if you are running a race, striving for weight loss, or are working on other health-behavior changes, we all need to cut ourselves some realistic slack. When we beat ourselves up, we are not helping, but hurting progress. We all have a bad day or fail a meal (or several). It is not about where you messed up, fell short or even if you won. The important factor is how you ran towards your goal. So, be strong in the moment and hold on the best you can. Let less than perfect be okay. Each moment is a new opportunity to improve and enjoy the journey you are on. The end result will take care of itself.

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Is Plyo for You?

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Remember when you used to play hopscotch, leap frog, or basketball? A fitness trend is bringing those memories back in an adult version. Recently there has been a lot of hype about plyometric workouts in the fitness realm. For those of you who have not been exposed to it, plyometrics is a jumping, dynamic movement performed as powerfully as possible. It has gained popularity and buzz for good reason. Plyometrics have a lot to offer for strength training and can bring about cardiovascular improvements as well. These movements rely on your ability to cover a certain distance at high intensities over a short period of time. It can really be great for increasing speed and strengthening those muscles. Jumping has shown to increase energy overall and mobility when done right.

So it sounds great right? Before you jump into plyo there are a few things you may want to consider. One consideration is the strength of your ankles, knees, abs, shoulders, and even wrists. When performing high intensity exercises, you must have your support systems in good shape. Otherwise you risk injury. Secondly, is balance. This is actually two-fold. Balance in the sense of equally strong/trained opposing muscle groups. Imbalance here could result in injury. The other type of balance is how well you can stabilize yourself in a position where your base of support is compromised. You will not perform most plyo exercises slowly, so it is important to know that you can handle sudden changes in balance without falling or injury to tissue. Your range of motion also matters here. In order to move through the full range of motion, you should have the flexibility to do so. When you do not take form seriously, you can get seriously injured. Do you have the right shoes? The shoe needs to support your ankle, so running shoes are not a good option. A court shoe or cross trainers may be good options. Shoe specialists can help you find a perfect shoe for you.

Never be afraid to be in a stage of progression. Life long fitness is better than a get-fit-quick scheme that leaves you unmotivated and injured. If you feel you are not ready for it, start with stabilization exercise and basic posture exercises. Incorporate yoga to ensure you have a good range of motion. Lastly, add cardio in for endurance and overall health. For those who feel they are ready to start, Begin with smaller movements and build up to more dynamic ones. It is helpful to use isometric exercises in between plyometric exercises to help avoid injury and increase stability.

If you are not sure what programs are best for you, talk with a trainer and work together on a plan. Most importantly keep it fun, safe, and challenging.

Graduated Success

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Hello Everyone! It seems like forever since I have written. You will be hearing from me much more now that I have GRADUATED! I am so excited to announce that all my work can now be put to great use…YOU! Many who graduated before me talked about how overwhelming it can be immediately post-grad. My head nodded in acknowledgement, but little did I know how tough it would really be. As a proactive person it can be disheartening to hear “So do you have a job lined up yet?” Being a mother of two, working a part-time job, and being a full-time student there was not a lot of time for me to court potential employers or seek employment for postgrad. So immediately I applied for 50+ jobs online. It has been over a month and no word. As a go-getter sitting still is not my strength. My decision is now to focus on what I can do to gain experience in the meantime. There are still people who need my help even if it is not a company employing me. So down this foggy path of trust I go, pursuing my own business. It is exciting and scary.

Thinking about the path of this new change and challenge before me, it reminds me a lot of how people feel starting a new wellness program. Whether you are trying to eat better, get fit, attain a fitness goal, failure is a possibility. No one wants to fail. It is a reason many do not take the leap. We come up with barriers and put ourselves in boxes with excuses we falsely see as truth. It is time for us to wake up and see the facts. Yes we may fail. No failure is too big that we cannot learn and grow better from. Failure could be the key to our success. It tells you your limitations and focuses your attention on what you can actually do now.

When we can look at a big picture and are flexible to changes in that vision, failure seems much less stressful. Make a plan with graduated steps towards that vision. Refine your goals to 3 priorities and then break it down into more and more tangible steps. Look often at your progress and goals. Do you need to revise the plan? Revisions may be due to an evolved vision or complete change. It is okay to change and grow. If something doesn’t work out, use it as information and not an attack on your potential. Flexibility allows you to use failures and success as supporting steps towards ultimate success.

The toughest aspect for me is the patience. Understanding that things take time. For some reason I can extend more grace to others than to myself. We need to be fair and kind to ourselves. Getting down or frustrated doesn’t really make us more productive. Identifying complications, flaws, and strengths along with a positive attitude does. Be passionate about what you do and do the best you can. At the end of the day you can at least walk away knowing where you stand when you test your limits. If you never test and try to grow, you never can achieve your potential.

Moment of Greatness

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   School has started at Miami University in Oxford. I have to say how excited I am at the prospect of graduating in the Spring! Someone once told me that the world of people who need help is just waiting on me to graduate. Though I doubt my influence will be so great, my care for people is pretty huge. Sometimes I feel like a Leslie Knope of health and fitness at heart. Though I may not be able to reach the whole world, I think it could still feel like a moment of greatness for me.

 Think of some favorite moments in your life. Think of what you see, how you felt, the smells, and who you were with. To me, great moments in my life involved great food, great company, and sharing a special moment. We can create more positive moments in our life by changing perspective and by setting the stage. It may not always work, but the effort in the end pays off.

What is the last great meal you ate? I mean a meal that made you utter unintelligible words. It may have been a while, or you may not have had that chance. When you use that standard and compare it to what you have been eating, you see there have been a lot of wasted bites. If budget or time tends to of concern, plan it out and work on your confidence in the kitchen. Practice using proper utensils and following basic recipes. Otherwise, keep an ear out for some great places and try new things, maybe once a week or so. Make food an adventure. 

How does the discovery of being down a size in a store’s fitting room make you feel? Embarrassingly, I dance and jump about. Maybe you experienced being able to move around better than you used to. How does it make you feel to do more with less effort? These things come with moderation in eating and exercise. We know this, but the discipline to keep at a lifestyle of it can seem daunting. Even if your goal is to maintain, keep a goal to keep motivated. 

Putting in the effort can help you create great moments like this. Moments you can reflect on later as moments of greatness. You don’t have to invent something or lead a group of people to achieve greatness. You just simply have to do the most you can with what you have.  I am sure when I graduate it will feel like a moment of greatness, simply because I will have worked so hard to get there. Your moments of greatness did not end and neither will have mine, unless we choose to not change or press forward. Allowing moments to be great and being great in a moment might seem unrelated, but they both involve effort and standard you set for yourself. So get out there and have a great day!

 

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Get Your Head in the Game

Get Your Head in the Game

One of my favorite classes at Miami is Sport and Exercise Psychology. It is incredible how much information you gain about life, business, mental disorders, team-building, and coaching to victory. One piece of clear truth is your outcome is derived from what is inside your head. Everyone needs different mental preparation to motivate them through the finish line and different approaches work for different people. There are professionals that work with teams to improve their performance. You could be Peyton Manning, but if you have a catastrophe it could make you a JaMarcus Russell. It is all on how you prepare, face obstacles, and what you choose to do after. Confidence is key.

Here are a few tips for building the right confidence from scratch:

1. If you are currently a couch potato, walk at a slow pace. You heard me. Start slow to build the brain’s ability to know where you are in space. This gives you confidence with each step. You program the body to know where you are and it boosts your confidence to take another step and go faster. Think about a baby learning to walk. He or she slowly gains confidence to let go and take more and more steps. Then they run!

2. Eat well. When you eat well you are more likely to make other healthy choices. Who feels like running after scarfing down a Big Mac? When you make small good choices, you are teaching your body to enjoy it and it begins to crave good choices.

3. Visualization. As silly as this may sound, you can motivate yourself by imagining yourself exercising or doing some physical activity. If you cannot honestly picture yourself, think of someone who you know can. Maybe even imagine someone whose physical fitness you admire. Understand that it is a possible feat for even you. The 4 minute mile was thought to be impossible until someone did it. Then several people were able to do it.

4. Tell yourself that you can! List reasons why you need to and ways you can start small and build up. Squeeze in small bouts at first and then soon you will find ways to make more time, if schedule is the problem.

5. When you fall short, do not beat yourself up. (Preaching to the choir here.) Some people use failure to fuel their need to succeed. For others it can keep you from even trying. You cannot succeed if you never try. It gives you a place to improve and a goal to reach. Failure is an option. Not trying should not be.

6. When you do something good, reward yourself. Take a moment when you complete a task to soak in the good feeling. Absolutely enjoy and revel in the moment as big or small as it may be. Some may need a physical reward, like new gear or new music. Take in praise from others and allow their words of affirmation to sink in.

7. Keep it up. Catch yourself when you start to make excuses and dispel them. You can do it as long as you have reasonable but challenging expectations.

With all of this in your mental toolbox, you can be unstoppable! Go from where you are to where you want to be. The only thing keeping you from your goal is your mindset. Success is just around the corner. Go get it!

What motivates you to be healthy? Any tricks you use to stay motivated?

Here are a few related research articles and literature to check out for more information:
1. Impact of Treadmill Exercise on Efficacy Expectations, Physical Activity, and Stroke Recovery by: Marianne Shaughnessy, PhD, CRNP,1,2 Kathleen Michael, PhD,2 and Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP2
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249605/#R2 (study)
2.Promoting walking as an adjunct intervention to group cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders—A pilot group randomized trial by: Dafna Meroma, Philayrath Phongsavana, Renate Wagnerb, Tien Cheya, c, Claire Marnaneb, c, Zachary Steelc, Derrick Silovec, Adrian Baumana
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887618507001806 (study)
3. Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. by: Bandura, Albert
New York, NY, US: W H Freeman/Times Books/ Henry Holt & Co. (1997). ix 604 pp.
(book)

P90X2 Phase 3: Performance (Final Phase)

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I have come to the end of the series with a new mindset, body, and attitude towards straight forward fitness routines. The amount of time it would take to get these results at a gym would be twice as long. It cuts through the time wasters and acknowledges that people have little time to dedicate. The intensity is high and the energy you gain is great. Once again I did not use supplements or Shakeology pushed by Tony Horton.

Ending Phase 2 Stats: weight: 134lbs Waist:28 Total inches: 162
Ending stats for phase 3: weight: 127 waist: 27.5 Total inches: 157″
Pre-P90X2 Stats: weight: 145 Waist:30.5 Total inches: 168.5″
Ending results: Loss of 18 pounds, 3 inches off my waist, and 11.5 total inches lost.

Phase 3 Training Schedule: Day1: P.A.P. Lower Day2: P.A.P. Upper Day3: X2 Yoga Day4: Rest or Recovery + Mobility Day5: P.A.P. Lower Day6: P.A.P. Upper Day7: Rest or Recovery + Mobility

Equipment Needed to Perform:
-Again P90X2 does offer versions of exercises without much equipment. These usually still require different band resistances.
-Balance/Stability ball -up to 2 Medicine balls -Chin up and pull up bar -Resistance bands -Plyobox/ sturdy chair -Hand weights -Yoga mat – Door Hook Anchor for resistance bands – hand towels

This system really works. My body has changed and molded and I am in the best shape of my life. I can run faster, jump higher, dance longer, do a proper push-up, perform modified pull-ups, and balance on a tight rope! Well, the last one has yet to happen, but I do have pretty incredible balance now. Talk about flexibility skills. If you have tight muscles, everything from Neuro-integrated stretching to good-old-fashioned yoga will increase your range of motion.

This level of fitness in phase 3 is really for those who have performance-based goals. This is beyond being healthy and fit. This is about being able to run the best time of your life. I ran a 5k, Color Me Rad, at my best time ever. My time was 20:30, something I thought was impossible for me. I have always been slow and steady. I got that time with a foot that had been “R.I.C.E.-ing” all night, the night before the race. (R.I.C.E.= Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.) Heck my goal was to be under 30 minutes! It is also about being able to have incredible agility for sports like basketball, tennis, football, dance, racquetball, etc. The training for a combination of cardiovascular endurance, and power gains is very scientific and Tony Horton nails it.

The overall drawbacks to this system are few but important to me to share. Obviously I do not support the idea of supplements without consulting a nutritional professional. Here Tony really pushes his Shakeology. One reason you don’t want to get nutrition from shakes is that you are not really learning how to eat well. You are fooling yourself into thinking it is a meal. Then when you are done, either you have to continue with shakes for the rest of your life or you can teach yourself to eat well. Another issue I had with the system was the nutritional suggestions. The first bit is quite restrictive and not helpful for healthy change. When you make drastic changes and severely restrict yourself, most people cannot sustain it and gain weight back plus some.The best way to counter this is to listen to your body. If you are hungry, eat! Then choose to eat well. Replace some ingredients in your food with healthier options. Slow and steady wins the race of weight-loss. Your body has to have time to catch up with your changes.

This system is recommended for those who have a solid base of fitness. You can definitely improve where you are and build upon it for a while. Once you get a feel for the routine, you can increase repetitions, push yourself to move faster, and hold those difficult poses longer. If you buy this system and put in the time, you cannot help but see results! Money well spent. If cost is something that would keep you from buying it, check out ebay. Sometimes you can catch a good deal. You could also get a buddy involved and go half way on it and have accountability!

Phase 3 Rating: 10/10
P90X2 Overall Rating: 9/10

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