Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Get out of your slump.

It happens sometimes: Life is moving along swimmingly when all of the sudden - BAM! - something in your perfect little world goes wrong. And, when you fall out of exercise due to illness, injury or disruption from things going on in your life, it’s hard to get started again. You try to restart but your energy levels have dropped; You've got zero motivation; You feel like offering an extended middle finger to the world. Know that feeling? It's called a slump. I've been there. It's not fun.

So, how do you pull yourself out of a slump?  Sure, you could muddle through it and hope things return to normal soon. Or, you could develop some strategies for Successful Slump Recovery (I may have coined a new phrase there...Let's call it SSR).

Here are some things to try:

1. GET INSPIRED. For me, inspiration comes from others who are achieving the same goals I have placed for myself. (Ahem....I've heard this blog can be a great source of inspiration... *wink wink*) When I am getting into "Slump Land", I set aside some time to peruse blogs, books, and magazines. I type my goal into a search engine Google my goal and read success stories. Reading can help motivate and focus you on the subject of whatever you’re reading. So read about your goal every day, if you can, especially when you’re not feeling motivated.

2. EXERCISE. I know...I know.... You don't feel like exercising, but it really is a wonderful way to get out of a slump. Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed than before you got your blood pumping. By making you look and feel better, exercise will also help increase your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

 3. CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE. Every morning, you wake up at the same time, shower, eat your usual bowl of cereal, pack your typical lunch and head to work. You spend the day in meetings, having the same dull conversations about the weather and everyone's health and return home. In the evening, you make dinner, clean up from dinner, and set out your clothes for the next day. Rinse. Repeat. B-O-R-I-N-G! No wonder you are in a slump. Just changing something small about your normal routine can reinvigorate you. Try taking a walk after dinner, jamming to your iPod during your morning commute or even just taking some time to make something fabulous for your lunch. Do whatever it takes to get you to look forward to something...

4. MONITOR YOUR THOUGHTS.  Negative self-talk isn't going to help you with your SSR so ditch it NOW. Try spending some time becoming aware of all the negative thoughts floating around in your head. Then, try squashing those negative thoughts like a bug, and replace them with a corresponding positive thought. Squash, “This sucks and is too hard!!!” and replace it with, “I can do this!!!” It sounds corny, but it works. Really.

If you aren't in a slump right now, GREAT! Bookmark this blog though because one of these days, it's going to happen and when it does, I want you to be prepared for recovery. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thought for Thursday

When you decide to transform your life, it's easy to try to take on too much at once. Just remember to focus on progress, not perfection. Take on one thing at a time, master it, and move on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Try a Playground Workout.

We have been spending a lot of time at the playground recently. The kids love to run around with their friends and it's the perfect opportunity to let them wear themselves out for an afternoon nap (a.k.a. Mommy free time!). I used to sit with the other parents, trading stories about blowout diapers, hashing over the differences in preschool curricula, catching up on the latest neighborhood gossip, and listening to everyone trying their best to outdo the other ones with their child's special talents and gifts. Then, during nap time, I would do my daily workout.

But...I have other things I *want* to do in that special afternoon time. Like read my selection for Book Club. Or catch up on DVR's. Or, maybe, just maybe, take a bath - a hot one with loads of bubbles. So, I tried to figure out a way to do my workout AND let the kids play at the same time.

Enter the Playground Workout....

1. Warm Up: Walk around the perimeter of the play area. Try some butt kicks. Do some arm circles. Just do whatever it takes to prepare your muscles for the workout.

2. Push Ups: Find a bench (preferably one that isn't occupied by the gossipers) and get into plank position, placing your hands on the seat or arm. Lift your own body weight up.  Repeat.

3. Tricep Dips: Turn around and face away from the bench. Place your hands on the seat and extend your legs out. Dip your booty down. Repeat.

4. Chin Ups: Head over to the monkey bars and use them to pull your own weight up, until your chin is above the bar. These are tough so no worries if you can't get them at first. Use the ladder on either side to assist you until you can perform them on your own.

5. Squats and Lunges: Try 3 sets of 10 to start (remember to do it on each leg for the lunges) and slowly build up from there. 

6. Cardio Time: You can get your heart pumping in a variety of ways. One of the best is to play tag, Hide and Seek or some other running game with the kids. You'll be amazed at how much of a workout you can get, just by "being a kid". You can also try running up and down the stairs to the slide, running in circles around the play area, doing jumping jacks, skipping rope, or doing sprints back and forth in the grass. Whatever you decide to do, just be sure to elevate your heart rate.

7. Stretch: Go back to the bench and use it to help you balance as you stretch out your entire body. Your muscles will thank you for this extra step.

Next time, you are at the playground, give it a shot. And if you see me there, don't laugh - just join in!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Stop procrastinating. 

To get something done, the first bump in the road is typically procrastination.. Here is a trick to end the cycle of procrastinating. If there is something you don’t want to work on, promise yourself to start the task and work on it for 15 minutes and then you can quit. You can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes right?!

Typically, once you get started you’ll find that what was really holding you back was just starting. Applying this  approach to beginning an exercise routine is a great start on the road to overall wellness. If you dread going to the gym, go for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes if you still don’t want to exercise, you can leave. If you don’t like it that day, no problem. You made the effort and you’ll stay longer on a day when you like it better. And there WILL be days when you like it better, I promise.

This tip is just like Newton's law : A body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest.  Once we start something, it is easier to keep at it, but starting is the hard part. So, promise yourself 15 minutes each day to start and see what happens. There is nothing stopping you...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sharing a bit of my life in the form of a race report

This past Saturday was the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon, which was a point to point race from one vineyard to another. I was running this race with a team of ladies from a running message board that I frequent. There were ladies from Virginia, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky, New Jersey, Nebraska, New York and Ohio and we stayed in two cabins about 30 minutes away from the race location. Everyone is of different ages, abilities, and points in their lives and running careers, and it was just amazing to be there with such an eclectic group of runners. We called our team the "Cupcake Chasers" and because there were so many of us, we had to break into two teams.

I woke up about 10 minutes before the alarm was set to go off, at 3:50am. Yikes! That was EARLY! I had my usual pre-race breakfast of a toasted sandwich thin, peanut butter and half of a banana. In hindsight, I probably should have waited to eat that on the way to the race because my stomach was growling as we were waiting for the start. My sister, "E", came as our official "Cupcake Chaser" cheerleader and volunteered to drive to the start for drop off and then continue to the finish to cheer and take pics. My friend, "T" and I got driven to the start and when we pulled into the vineyard, we were informed that we needed to be dropped off there because there was nowhere else for my sister to turn around. Begrudgingly, we got out of the warm SUV and walked about a half mile to the waiting area. It was fuh-reezing! (And by the way, there was PLENTY of turn around room...) We found another boardie, "J", quickly after we got there, and I did a few port-a-potties runs before finding the rest of the cupcakes, who had taken the shuttle bus from the parking lot at the finish.

There was a snafu with the shuttle buses so the race ended up being delayed about 25 minutes, I believe. In fact, some runners were getting off the bus and running toward the start as we were beginning our race. I felt so bad for them! I started off the race with an even pace, knowing that my plan was to come in under 2 hours but with a stretch goal of 1:55. In fact, I told my sister that I would do a cartwheel if I came in before my stretch goal - LOL! She said she'd be ready with the camera for that one. I took a Gu about 20 minutes before the race started, since I was already hungry!

I felt amazing during the first few miles and I couldn't believe how quickly I was seeing the next mile marker. It was a gorgeous day and beautiful course. There was a bit of congestion initially but by mile 2-ish, I was able to run without bumping elbows with the other runners. I had my MP3 player on random and was loving the music. A few times, I turned it off, to just spend some quiet moments with God. I thanked him for healing me and asked for his protection and strength as I completed this half.

I took a chocolate Gu at the 7 mile mark, which was 1 hour and 1 minute into the race. I remembered how my aunt had told me that one of the tasks set by her running partner when she was trying to BQ was to run 7 miles in less than an hour. I was darn close to that and felt pretty darn good about it. The hills were better than I expected. Being a Pittsburgh girl, they were nothing compared to what I run on in my own neighborhood. I passed a lot of other runners on the hills and that gave me a tremendous boost of confidence.

Some of the miles were a bit sunny and I was thankful I had the foresight to slap on some sunscreen in the morning. There was some shade but it was patchy. The race had plenty of water stops and I took advantage of all but one of them to get some water and pour a little on my head or back, as well as hydrate. I walked most of the water stops and took a couple walk breaks, trying to do a modified Jeff Galloway technique. I contemplated taking another Gu at mile 10 but didn't ended up doing so. Mile 10 was a pivotal moment for me. I looked down at my GPS and realized that if I kept my pace going, I would finish at my stretch goal of 1:55. I wondered if I could do it. Just then, Ricky Martin's "Cup of Life" came on. "Do you really want it? Do you really want it?" came blasting through the headphones and echoed in my brain. Yes, I thought to myself, I do want this! So, I ran.

There was one last hill in the 12th mile that was a bit of a mood killer, but as I came to the crest of it, I could see the vineyard and knew I was going to make it. I turned left and ran down the crowd lined trail leading to the finish. I was elated as I crossed the line with a time of 1:54:15. That's a PR for me by more than 4 minutes!

The festival afterward was nice. We got awesome medals that doubled as wine stoppers and a wine glass.
 I only did one tasting booth though because frankly, the last thing I wanted to be doing was drinking wine after running the race. I couldn't stop grinning until well after the race was over and even now, as I sit here, I am smiling. It was a fantastic weekend and I am so glad I got to be a part of such a wonderful team. The Cupcake Chasers all did great  and I look forward to the next race we do together.

And as a side note, I did not do a cartwheel because there was another woman coming in right behind me and the timing mat area just looked a little too gross. I did do an obnoxious leap at the end though so hopefully, someone captured a picture of that.