Archive for inspiration – Page 2

how to fall in love with running in 5 steps

by: Marie Wreath Editor’s note:  We’re happy to have guest author Marie Wreath let us repost her article.  Whether you run (or walk) a mile, or thirty miles, there are some great perspectives in here to think about! Like so many things in life, it’s about your own personal health and happiness, so take what you need.  Enjoy the article!  

How to fall in love with one of the most beneficial things that you, all by yourself, can do in this life.

    • Give it a fair shake. Brand new to running and already convinced you hate it? Please wait. Do not sell yourself short by struggling through one awkward, wheezing mile then declare running just isn’t for you. You know the millions of physical and mental benefits, right? Why did you start? Don’t you believe people who say that running makes them happier overall? Just get past the weird beginnings, trust me. My beginnings were extremely weird. And still I often need three miles to warm up for a five mile run. Even well-seasoned ultra-runners are known to say “Never judge a run by the first three miles.”Three miles. That is about half an hour of warm up, and it is SO worth it! If you are even a little bit interested in this amazing new chapter of life, then please give it a fair shake. Nibble at it. Seek support. Try different methods. Get the long view and grow a funny bone, because you will make yourself laugh … a lot.
    •  

    • Find your own running buttons and push them.Everyone is different. Running may seem painfully routine looking in from the outside, but there is a deep inner world there, a vast ocean of thought and feeling that you get to explore every time you lace up. (Maybe that’s why so many writers are also runners … huh.)And there are a hundred thousand variations for runners to discover. Do you listen to music, or keep the rhythmic silence? Run alone or with friends? Trail, track, or treadmill? Cold weather or hot? Morning, noon, or night? Try lots of different combinations until you discover your sweet spot, then max out! Enjoy yourself. Then shake things up again, enjoy some variety. Then go back to your reliable routines again. My favorite running blogger The Monican has lots of fun ideas to offer but always goes back to this smart mantra: You do YOU. Amen.
    •  

    • Stock up on inspiration for a rainy day. Even deep into your own running obsession, far past your first big runner’s high, you’ll have dry days. You’ll have mornings when you had planned to run but WOW something else sounds better. Or you question the benefits. Or you just need new ideas. Be ready for those days by making little collections of motivational words, images, and info-graphics.
    • Ever heard of Pinterest? I have like three boards that revolve around fitness, but one in particular serves running alone. I refer to it when I can feel my feet dragging or my thoughts going negative. Maybe you’d rather have an old-fashioned vision board, complete with cork and push pins and glossy magazine pages! Know thyself, and motivate thyself.


     

  • Set a fun goal (or two or three) and make them known to loved ones. This is pretty standard advice offered for all kinds of new endeavors, and it almost sounds cheesy, but cheesy stuff tends to work! My advice for new runners who want to build enthusiasm? Look for a snazzy 5-K or a half marathon and register. Pay the money so you’re committed. Then on your calendar count the necessary training weeks backwards from the event date and pencil in your workout plan for every week. (Hal Higdon is a great source of advice for training.) And record what miles you run against that plan. Get consistent. Blab about it to your friends to the point they are mildly annoyed.Last March I was close to burnout for different reasons, and had I not made my goal of “running my first full marathon at forty” so public to people who really love me, I might have backed out. I am SO GLAD I didn’t back out. What a sad thing that would have been. Concrete goals made public are effective!
  •  

  • Always go one more. One more mile, one more song, one more lap, one more day. However you’re measuring your frustration at any given point, try going just one more past where you want to. Remember that running is largely in your head, maybe more so than in your body; so take every opportunity to strengthen your mind. It will improve your life in so many ways. Do more than what you think you can do. Over and over, bit by bit, you will be amazed.  So that’s my advice if you are thinking of a wonderful new running obsession but need the final nudge. If you do these five things: Give it a fair shake, find a groove, stay inspired, set goals publicly, and go beyond your own expectations… I am pretty sure you will fall in love with running. And running will always love you back. And then we can grab some miles together sometime! Now you tell me. If you’re a runner already, what advice would you give a newbie? If you need some nudging, what’s on your mind? What’s holding you back from starting, or what’s slowing you down?Run while you can.~ Marie XOXOXOXO Marie Wreath’s blog can be found at “The (Not Always) Lazy W” here: http://lazywmarie.com/hi-im-marie-welcome-to-the-lazy-w/ and on Twitter @thelazyw

face the fear

by: Emily Boecking

Blank. Sheet. Of. Paper.  Yes, paper, not laptop, or desktop monitor, or tablet device.  After dropping my laptop one too many times, any sort of word processing software no longer exists on that 200 GB of memory, and I really haven’t had the patience to schedule an appointment with an Apple Genius (or Apple Not So Genius) to remedy the situation.  This lack of sufficient computer capabilities is one of the many excuses I have used to put off writing this article; including, but not limited to: I don’t have time, I’m too tired, writing requires thinking and I’ve already done too much of that today, I have several movies in my Netflix queue to catch up on… you get the idea.  So here I am.  Blank. Sheet. Of. Paper. 

I usually think of myself as the “go getter” type—someone decently good at making “To Do” lists, and then knocking out the tasks relatively quickly.  But this one task, to write a simple article on what it means for me to “face the fear”, stayed on my “To Do” list week after week.  I finally had to ask myself why I kept finding so many excuses, as lame as they were, for procrastinating on this particular undertaking.  Finally I had to admit that my excuses served no purpose other than to distract me from facing my fear of writing this article.  What was so intimidating about this article? 

Hell, it was my idea to write the article anyways.  Although it is a topic I feel passionately about, I realized I was scared that I might not really have anything of merit to say about the subject.  I couldn’t even fathom how to approach the article.  Maybe I could make the piece anecdotal … possibly relay some examples of obstacles or issues in my life I feared and how I worked through them, whether successfully, or not so successfully.  And yes, I could see where that approach could have some value. Honestly though, if that were the course of action to take there had to be someone grossly more qualified than myself to lead such a discussion. 

Sure, I’ve been through some stuff, and had my shit, but how does that make me different than anyone else?  Plus, as much as I like to put on a tough exterior, I honestly don’t think I’d make it through the entire article claiming that I am “Fearless.”  Heck, I couldn’t even sit down to write an article about fear because fear was the very thing inhibiting me (suck it irony).  And taking the opposite approach of composing a confessional of how much some shit scares me didn’t sound like too much fun either (I for dang sure didn’t want to reveal all of my gross insecurities to the general public).  So. Blank. Sheet. Of. Paper.  We meet again. 

And alas, as much as I would like to say the inspiration as to how to give some substance, and content to this matter struck me with a lightning bolt of epiphany, it did not.  Rather, I had to make a truce with the endeavor.  Knowing I couldn’t speak as any so called expert on “how to face the fear”, nor could I portray a self-flagellation of all my fears and woes, I could, however, engage in a discussion in regards to our collective challenges as to how we handle fear, and how we can find the strength from within to face it.

So here it goes …

If we ask ourselves how many of our fears are based on reality, and how many are based on our perception of reality, what would the ratio be?  Would we be able to say that 99% of our fears are reality based?  50%?  Or maybe a mere 1%?  If we are honest, most of us would probably confess that the majority of our fears are based on what we perceive reality to be, rather than what it actually is. 

An Alcoholics Anonymous adage states that FEAR is an acronym for the following:  False Evidence Appearing Real.  As various situations and stimuli arise in our lives, our natural human instinct is to relate the current circumstances we find ourselves in to prior experiences.  Since life happens on its own terms, which are often not in accordance with our own terms, many experiences have outcomes that may be, in our minds, less than we had hoped for, or perhaps an outcome we associate with failure.  And with that association of failure arises emotions that we’d rather just not feel again, or deal with.  Maybe the feelings that are conjured up are just a little uncomfortable.  Maybe they are a lot of uncomfortable.  Or maybe somewhere in between.  Regardless of where that feeling falls on our “uncomfortable” barometer, the bottom line is, given a choice, we’d rather avoid that uncomfortable feeling and just not go there again.

And yes, we have all read the motivational books and heard the inspirational quotes that instruct us that we can’t hope for anything more out of life other than status quo if we approach life from a stand point of avoidance of failure and uncomfortable feelings.  Once such quote on the subject can be found in Theodore Roosevelt’s The Strenuous Life speech,

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

But stuff comes up in life.  Maybe it’s a time to just branch out a little from our comfort zone, or maybe it’s a time where we are asked to really step up to the plate.  And if that stuff, whether it be big or small, invokes that deja vu of some “who, what, where, when or why” from our past that we really didn’t like, our natural reaction is to respond, “Nope.  Been there.  Done that.  Not going there again.” 

But here is the real reality of the situation: we have NOT been there before.  We have NOT done that.  Of course we are not going there again, because we can’t.  Maybe something similar to the situation we currently find ourselves has happened before, hence our protective instincts flair up.  We get scared and have an impulse to respond out of fear.  And in those moments, I personally often find myself having a little internal conversation in regards to Mr. Roosevelt’s quote:  “Yea, Teddy got it right on it being better to ‘dare mighty things’, but today I’d rather be content to be in that ‘gray twilight’ area.  I may not know victory, but I’ll go with not rolling the dice and instead be able to eliminate that suffering thing from the agenda today.” 

And some days, this is response is OK.  We don’t need to wage war with the world everyday by any means.

Yes, we all have major and minor life crises that we are faced with– relationships, careers, the economy, natural disasters, crime, etc. – but none of them are going to be confronted and defeated within a single day. 

Looking outward at the external battles raging in our lives may not be where we are called to direct our energy.  Rather than outward, maybe the direction to look is inward, at the internal battles we face.  And many of those battles are merely incarnations of fear.  Exactly how facing these fears will look like for everyone, I can’t necessarily speak to, but it might take the form of asking ourselves questions such as:  ” What things, both good and bad, am I avoiding because of my fears?”  “Where am I selling myself short because of what my fears tell me I can and can’t do?”  “Where am I selling others short because of this?”

Fear loses its power over us when we let go of the outcome.  When our days are no longer governed by our expectation of what we think can happen or will happen or should happen,  all of the “what if” scenarios that fear played out in our minds fall by the wayside, and we can instead be fully present.  And when we are fully present, we are able to take action from a place of personal strength and power.  Whereas before we would have resorted to simply reacting to challenges out of fear, we can now empower ourselves to act mindfully and purposefully in any given set of circumstances when we let go of the power fear had over us. 

So maybe today we dare that mighty thing anyways, and maybe we risk a measure of defeat, but we also open ourselves up to experiencing a measure of victory.  And whether it’s victory, defeat, or everything in between – isn’t it all experience?  And isn’t experience what life is made of?  Maybe today we take that chance at facing our fear, knowing that if failure does happen, we can still handle it. 

Face the fear… and do it anyways…

i know what you did last night…

Editor’s Note:  Our Norman Director Laura Mullins decided to gather a group and run a part of the coast to coast relay “ONE Run for Boston” – a way to raise awareness and funds for the victims of the bombing at last year’s Boston Marathon.  Here’s author Kim Frakes account of the hilarious relay leg that started at 2:30am at The Road Rash Saloon.  You can’t make this stuff up.  Read on:  

i know what you did last night

 Saturday, March 29, 2014

Do you? If you’re my facebook friend you’ve gotten a sneak peek. Yes, I am one crazy old mama.

Let me fill you in. There is a torch being carried from California to Boston and it runs day and night, round the clock, by crazy people like me and 5 of my newest friends. And it was, by far, one of the coolest things I’ve ever done as a runner. Check out www.onerunforboston.com and you can even see it live on a gps map!

So last night I went to bed at 9:45 pm. And I woke up at 11:35 pm. We met at a Starbucks in Norman and hopped in the car together, all six of us, filled with anticipation and lots of snacks and water in the trunk.

And then we drove. It took a couple hours to get out into rural western Oklahoma. And let me tell you, when someone says you can see the stars better out in the country, they are speaking truth, people. It was amazingly and frighteningly DARK out there.

We found our ending point here:

Oh yes, we did. I don’t think we could have found a better named bar on the face of the planet. Right?!

Anyway, the girls needed to use the potty by this time, so we all thought, Hey! Let’s go in!

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Last call was about to occur. It was, after all, 1:30 in the morning.

But as we entered, you could literally hear crickets chirping. It fell silent upon our entry and EVERY head turned our direction. I will admit, I was scared. I wanted nothing more at that moment than to blend into the woodwork and disappear but we were wearing running clothes in neon colors. And so there was pretty much NO CHANCE OF THAT HAPPENING. Luckily I was surrounded by some ballsy women. And they forged a path straight for the bathroom. Past the people playing pool and smoking so heavily that my lungs went into a fit. Past the plastic tables used during the week for their famous buffet. Straight for the one hole bathroom. And then a REAL friendly old lady came over and stated, rudely, that she was going to need to see every one of our IDs if we were going tostay there. Eek! I left mine in the car! I’ll go get it!

So off I went and there I stayed. Well a few minutes later I was beginning to wonder if the girls were coming, so I walked over and looked in the window. They were sitting at a table drinking a beer! Talking to the locals! They were having a grand ol’ time!

Soon they all filed out (it WAS last call, after all) with a whole new set of friends. It seemed that while I sat in my car with Jerry, the girls were inside making new friends. It’s a very friendly set out there in the boonies. After the shock wears off from seeing strangers enter their beloved space, they are happy to share the love! And buy you a beer!

Not long later, we were zipping down the two lane highway that we were about to run. We got to our hand off point and met our previous runner, a lady, by herself, with a dog. SHE HAD RUN FOR 10 MILES ALONE IN THE PITCH BLACK, PEOPLE. WOW. So we strapped on our headlamps and took off! Torch in hand.

Apparently Brenda runs with full on makeup at 2:30 am. Who knew.

This is Laura, our fearless leader, taking the torch from the amazing lady who ran alone with her dog.

When we took off, we made a plan to have someone drive the car of every leg. Who drove depended on who wasn’t running that part. I ran the first two miles, then drove a few miles, jumped back on for a mile, and then drove some more. I hopped out and ran the last mile as well. But three of our runners ran the whole 12 miles, because THEY ARE THAT AWESOME. Way to go Laura, Tara, and Jerry! You are my heroes.

Sometimes when I was alone in the car for a mile (10 minutes), I wore my headlamp on low and read my book. Yep, that’s how I roll.

And then on one of my stops I spotted this.

Hey, I love Jesus! And I love living in the bible belt, but I will admit to being shocked that you can apparently spend public dollars to erect a sign like that in small town Oklahoma. Who. Knew.

Well, a few miles later, we were done! Just like that.

And Laura handed it off to a man and a lady. And off went the torch, on it’s way to Boston.


Coolest running experience. Ever.

 

 

runhers norman joins ONE Run for Boston

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Laura Mullins – 630-670-1346

 

ONE Run For Boston Relay Running Through Oklahoma

Norman runhers Group Grinding the Night Shift

NORMAN, OKLAHOMA:  On March 29th at 2:30am, runhers women’s association Norman Director Laura Mullins is leading a team of five runhers women on a lonely, dark 12 mile relay leg for ONE Run Boston.  Beginning in Colony, Oklahoma, they will pass legendary landmarks like Hoochie Mama’s Hunting Lodge and The Road Rash Saloon.  Their run will raise not only eyebrows, but funds and awareness aimed at helping the Boston Marathon Community heal after last year’s bombing.

Laura Mullins states, “I saw the opportunity, and even though we are running in the middle of the night on very lonely roads, I wanted to embrace the gift of running and participating, and do this for people who can’t, or who have lost loved ones in the Boston tragedy.  Our runhers women have a lot of grit and a great work ethic, so this is some little thing we can do to support the project, and pass the baton on to others who care!”  Mullins continues, “We plan on having a helluva good time celebrating life on our journey!”

About ONE Run for Boston

One Run For Boston, a non-stop, cross country relay to support the ONE FUND BOSTON, begins March 16 in Santa Monica and ends April 13 in Boston.  Two-thousand runners are expected to participate by the time the relay reaches Boston. The relay’s aim is to raise $1 million to help support the survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.  Between Santa Monica and Boston, over 2000 runners will run 336 stages in 28 days totaling 3300 miles across 14 states.  www.onerunforboston.org

about runhers® women’s association

We are a creative force that empowers women to discover, design and activate their version of a healthy and happy life.  We create partnerships and experiences that engage, entertain and inspire women everywhere.

To engage, please visit us at www.runhers.com or facebook.com/runhers – twitter @runhers – email info@runhers.com

 

 

stay creative this spring

By:  Britta Newton @ www.brittablogs.com

Inspiration Board. Whether it’s magazine cutouts push pinned to your wall or a framed bulletin board a creative brain needs the tangible inspiration. Try printing out some of your favorite Pinterest boards and favorite blog posts.

Keep a beautiful pad & pen on you at all times. I have a stack of unique notebooks, and when I brainstorm I grab which one inspires me for the current project. Using a beautiful pen will keep writing happily!

Write. Keeping a daily journal and writing about your thoughts each day will keep your creative juices flowing! When they start flowing you’ll be overwhelmed with the hopes of ideas and you’ll have a pen in hand to write everything down.

Read.  Magazines, books, blogs… Reading and looking at great images will keep your mind in critical thinking mode.

Be Active. Doing a 15 minute yoga video in your living room, or taking a walk around the neighborhood will get your blood flowing each morning.

Add Color. I painted my office orange and it really has done wonders. Add color to your work-space to inspire different moods each day. Something as small as multi colored post it notes will brighten up your mundane to-dos.

Surround yourself with creative people. Having a positive support group to bounce ideas off of will be the tracks to your train. Learning from others and having competition will keep you improving daily.

…and in my opinion, the most important.

Break The Rules.  Which ones? All of them. (P.S. I said rules, not laws. Don’t break laws.)

laugh it up

Editor:  It’s true that children laugh many more times a day than adults do.  But, we should try to catch up to those little rascals!   And for greats reasons, it’s great for our health, not to mention our sanity!  So yuk it up, early and often.  And please share anything you find funny with us here: info@runhers.com  We are always looking for a good belly laugh! 

Laughter therapy

You know how it feels when you laugh so hard you cry? Whatever tension you had, a good belly laugh washes it away. Because your mind and body are connected, laughing may be one of the best natural medicines around.

What happens when you laugh?

A robust laugh gives the muscles of your face, diaphragm, abdomen, and sometimes your arms and legs, a good workout. Your heart rate and blood pressure rise then fall, you breathe faster and deeper, and oxygen surges through your blood stream. Your brain pumps hormones that make you very alert and endorphins that numb pain. Laughter:

  • raises your pain threshold
  • reduces stress and calms you in emotional situations
  • enhances immunity by boosting your levels of antibodies

Laughing relaxes your body and clears your mind. By seeing the humor in a stressful situation, you may be able to change your response to the stress by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

You can’t laugh and worry too much at the same time.

Prescription for laughter

How can you use humor to feel your best? Try to:

Seek out things that make you laugh, like funny movies, books, and cartoons

Keep a humor journal in which you write down jokes, funny things kids say, newspaper headlines, bumper stickers, and events

Tell jokes and make a point of passing on the jokes you hear

Laugh at yourself when you make mistakes or think you’re taking yourself too seriously

Look at the funny side of stressful situations and turn them into funny stories you can tell afterwards

Handle stressful events with humor instead of anger or anxiety

Humor can be a powerful medicine, and laughter can be contagious.

Source: Adapted with permission from the Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook (as published under the title Mind & Body Health Handbook), David Sobel, MD, and Robert Ornstein, PhD, 1996

Reviewed by: Paul Millea, MD, June, 2013

 

the value of grinding it out

 
The bombing at the Boston Marathon.  The explosion in West, Texas.  The earthquake in China. The bombing of the French Embassy.  There’s more, but the events of the last few days are enough to make our heads spin.  What the people dealing with these tragedies know or will learn is that recovery and restoration is a marathon, not a sprint.  It’s a grind, a slow and difficult process.  And in the end, the people and the communities will come out the other side stronger, braver and more equipped to deal with life than before the event.  There are plenty of lessons to be learned, like the value of grinding it out.

We’re sure you’ve noticed how easy some days are – and other days it seems like getting our heads off the pillow in the morning is a huge effort.   There is great value in learning to grind through the tough days, to improvise, to find the grit inside to go on and make the day count.  This is where the most growth lies – in how you work through the difficult days, the dark hours and the long miles.  How you respond in the tough times matters, it’s where you learn the most about yourself – and those around you.

When we talk about grinding, we’re not referring to the dirty dancing version here!  We are talking about finding a way to get through the day, learning how to run/perform when you’re tired, or work effectively in less than perfect conditions – to make it to through the run, or through the day’s storm.

Grinding has been described as dreary, monotonous, or difficult labor.  It’s not pretty, in fact, it’s mostly pretty ugly.  And it’s entirely necessary.  With U.S. Special Forces selection, they wear down the candidates with sleep deprivation and strenuous hard runs, physical drills and other taxing challenges.  Then, while exhausted, they are tasked with an incredibly difficult task/mission, requiring critical decision making skills, teamwork and the ability to improvise on the fly.   The drop-out rate is high, but in the end – it is the grinders, the ones who just won’t quit, no matter what, who are honored into the elite teams.  The U.S. Navy Seal credo, “the only easy day was yesterday,” says it all.

We’re not elite special forces – but the lesson is clear.  There will be days that nothing is going right, you feel like crap and the world seems to be crashing in.  It could very well be race day.  Making the best of it, adapting your plan and always moving forward will make you stronger in every way.

Some tips for grinding it out.

  • Most importantly; think. In stressful times it is easy to lose focus on what is really important.  If you take a deep breath and spend a couple of minutes prioritizing, it will serve you well.  Focus on what’s the right thing(s) to be doing, what will allow you and/or yours to have the best chance of carrying on, surviving the day, race or whatever you need to get through.  Then grind through those things first!
  • Don’t give up on the day.  There is always a way to make something work.  Keep trying, keep going.  Many days turn out great after a really rocky start – just by grinding on!  Being relentless is a learned skill.
  • Trust that if you keep at it long enough, a breakthrough will come.  It may not be the desired result – but you know the effort was there.  Believe in the effort and you will grow stronger.
  • Taking a bite out of the elephant.  You can’t eat the whole elephant at once, so learn how to make small bites.  It’s always the small things that add up.
  • Learn to improvise.  Your race pace is shot and you are not even sure you are going to finish.  So, it’s not going according to plan – what to do?   Adjust and adapt.  Take what the day is giving you, whether it’s the weather, the attitude or other factors.  Start chopping up the course into small victories – make it to the next landmark, the next mile or the next water station.  Pride yourself on the ability to grind on to the finish.  You’ll be more proud of your ability to survive and flourish on the bad days, knowing the strength and resolve you have within.

It’s difficult at times to believe in ourselves – that we even have the capacity and the ability to get through the things that are thrown in our paths.  Life can be unbelievable hard at times, full of ups and downs.  Please don’t give up on yourselves – keep grinding through the hard times.  It helps in many cases during the hard times, to help someone out who may be having even a rougher go of it than you.  We can make such a difference in people’s lives by the simple act of caring.  You never know when you can be a hero, to yourself or to someone else.  Keep going, keep grinding on.  It’s the effort and the perseverance that makes the difference.  You are capable of amazing things when you keep stepping ahead, one step at a time!

starting a resolution and thinking for a change

Editor’s opening thoughts:  For many, many years, legendary corporate giant IBM’s culture revolved around one word.  ThinkA while back, Mr. Watson, the CEO said, “All the problems of the world could be settled easily if men were only willing to think. The trouble is that men very often resort to all sorts of devices in order not to think, because thinking is such hard work.”  We think thinking is something we all need to value more.  Really spending some quiet time with our thoughts, asking the right questions of what we want to do – or what we want to solve; then truly immerse our brains in thinking 360 degrees around the possibilities.  It is remarkable what our brains are capable of!  So, let’s all commit to a great year!  Knowing we will have to think our way into and out of many things to press on with our goals! 

So it’s a New Year – time for a fabulous fresh start!  This is the year I am going to (______).   It all sounds good, and it’s all doable.   So why doesn’t it stick over the long term? Because studies show that most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by Feb. 15.  The weight-loss products remain unused, the new exercise equipment has turned into a clothing receptacle, and you have spent some considerable cash. On top of it, you spend time beating yourself up and wondering why it didn’t work – again.

It doesn’t have to happen in 2013, however. You just have to ask better questions, take a personal inventory and use plenty of common sense.

January begins the carpet-bombing ad campaigns with the “revolutionary” ways to get healthy and fit. This is when the weight-loss, fitness and wellness industry spends millions of advertising dollars to draw you in to use their brand, system or program.

Much of it defies modern science, as well as sound medical advice, when properly reviewed. Many food and drink products stretch the truth in how “healthy” they really are. Out of desperation for change, you buy into the weight-loss programs, products, technologies or memberships. But the results don’t follow. The images of the models on the ads are unattainable for most – and the reality is many of those “ripped” fitness models can become very sick pursuing that look, which is unsustainable, as well.

The best piece of advice we can start you off with is: think. Your best investment is a little time with your own brain. A little common sense really does go a long way.  If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Asking good questions up front can save you plenty of heartache down the road. Think about the sustainability of that product, service, diet, technology or app before you buy it. It sure is sexy now, but how does it really fit into your lifestyle in the longer term?

The Centers for Disease Control and others have defined obesity as an epidemic with adverse outcomes in health and healthcare costs. The widespread consensus is that weight gain is primarily the result of an imbalance of energy – specifically, too many calories are consumed versus expended.

This is the worst health epidemic in our nation’s history – and it’s mainly behavior-driven and self-inflicted. Scientists agree that a parallel epidemic sweeping the country is disordered eating. It is unique to each individual who is dealing with these issues. One size or one solution does not fit all, and never will. Preaching doesn’t work, and shaming most certainly won’t.

Being healthy and happy is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. You’ll see results and feel much better taking small steps every day toward a more active lifestyle.

A small step can be learning how to read food labels for a more balanced, nutritional approach. Park farther away from your destination and take the stairs instead of the elevator so you can walk a little more.  Ask friends for advice on what worked for them. Ask your employer what health- and wellness-related programs they offer.

Even small companies can do something to promote and encourage healthier choices.  The healthier a company is, the more productive it is. Personally, the healthier and happier you are, the better you’ll be at everything you do.

Here are a few tried-and-true tips on setting and adjusting goals:

  • Check with your health care provider before starting a fitness or wellness program.
  • Be honest with yourself. Accept yourself as you are and where you are. Ask yourself, “What is my ideal happy, healthy lifestyle?”
  • Review the past year and make a new list. What worked? What failed? Why? What can I build on? What should I let go? What were my best and worst decisions?  Have some fun with it and use humor; it helps!
  • Make time to fully focus on the new goals. You want to get momentum going forward and keep it – building on small improvements and small victories, because they will add up.
  • Be flexible. If you want to run a marathon, you have to build a base of miles over time. You can’t just wake up and run 26.2 miles. The same is true for most goals. You have to take responsibility for your life, health and happiness. Change doesn’t always come quickly or easily.

That’s life – there is never a direct path to success. It’s a journey and an adventure. Develop your sense of humor and your improvisation skills. Have a healthy perspective on life in general.

am i broken or am i growing?

The State of Broken:  Scarred.  Damaged.  Irreparable.  Lost.

Increasingly we view ourselves as entities fitting the above labels. The more life happens, the more problems we seem to incur.  The more shit piles up, the more those adjectives above become our identity.  We search for self-help books:  “How To _______, In Ten Easy Steps” – to give us direction on how to steer ourselves back onto the correct path.  We seek out professionals who are “experts” on what constitutes a happy and successful life to tell us how we should be living because obviously we aren’t doing it right on our own.  Society, the media and our own insecurities tell us that something is “broken” with us and needs to be “fixed.”

If ONLY we could right that one thing about ourselves that is wrong.  If ONLY we could lose some weight.  If ONLY we could find the perfect mate.  If ONLY we could catch a break in our careers.  If ONLY we could rid ourselves of financial debt.  If ONLY our parents understood us better.  If ONLY we were good enough for this or that– then, THEN we could be “okay.”

What about if ONLY we accepted ourselves as we are?  What if “okay” was being at peace with the fact that we don’t have all the answers right now?  What if our so called “problems” were instead “opportunities for growth”?  Sure, easier said than done.  We are always going to have our “shit” that is unresolved within ourselves, and this so called “shit” will manifest itself as different forms in different chapters of our lives. Why not find peace with ourselves that yes, issues of one sort or another are always going to be there?  The beauty in this lies in how we answer to ourselves each and every day “what will we choose to learn from the experience of today?”

Yes, we will stumble and fall.  And if you fall like me, it’s flat on your face.  But hell, I’d rather fall forwards than backwards.  And there will be plenty of occasions where it is one step forward, and two (or three… or ten) steps back.  Can we let go of the need to define this as failure or success and instead trust that it’s just part of our journey through life?  Let’s try and find that deliciously ambiguous space between broken and fixed where we can call it “growth.”

The State of Growth:  Healing.  Maturing.  Learning.  Growing. Living.

~Emily

running groups aren’t as scary as you think

editor’s note:  Our guest blogger from Moore, Oklahoma, is Cyndi Bates.  She is one fabulous woman, who’s not afraid to ‘tell it like it is’.  We are so happy to have her here guest blogging and sharing her personal experiences!  You can find her blog at http://www.cyndi-fatgirlrunning.blogspot.com

By:  Cyndi Bates

I may not look like the type of person who belongs to a running club.  I may not even look like someone who runs enough to even consider belonging to a running club. Guess what?  I am!  I know that most people are intimidated by the idea of a running group. I wanted to join one looooong before I actually did. I visited a few of the groups around the city, but never felt like I connected with any of them.  I am not ultra-fit or uber-competitive.  As a matter of fact, I was usually the slowest person there.  Ok, I was always the slowest person there.  No one ever said that I didn’t belong there. Everyone was friendly and encouraging, but I always felt a little awkward and out of place.  I imagine that many of you may feel the same way when contemplating a running group.  You think, “I’m not very fast.  What if I’m the slowest one there?”  You fear being the last person to finish.  You worry, “What if everyone there looks like a fitness model and they look at me like, ‘What are YOU doing here?’”.

So why with that kind of fear did I keep looking for a group?! Well, let me tell you why.  I began my training in a group setting and found that it really worked for me.  I was joined by people on the same journey as myself, surrounded by encouraging and supportive faces, and had access to people with way more experience than myself who were happy to answer even the silliest of my questions.  I have tried to train on my own. It just didn’t get the job done.  It was just too easy for me to talk myself out of runs or to get off track in my training.  Once you are off track, it is really hard to get back, especially when you have no one to motivate you.  So I kept looking and finally found what I was looking for with my current running group, runHers.

I’m here to tell you that none of that stuff that I was (and you are) afraid of matters.  Within the group, there are so many different levels of ability.  There are fast runners, slow runners, medium runners, and backward runners.  Backward runners? Yes, backward runners.  My friend and fellow member, Amanda, has a much faster pace than me.  I can keep up with her for a time and then she leaves me in the dust.  If we are in the middle of a conversation, she will run backwards to a) slow herself down and b) face me while we finish our convo. So please don’t be intimidated by the other runners.  If you are a new runner, just remember that everyone had to start somewhere.  The only difference between you and them is that they started sooner.  Many still remember what it was like and are more than happy to help and encourage someone just beginning their journey. We are all there to build camaraderie and encourage each other. So what if some are faster than you.  There’s probably someone slower than you too. We are all women in my group.  Who understands women better than other women?!  We all juggle different things in life, work, kids, spouses and home.  We know the time and effort you put in your day and still try to find time to exercise and be healthy.  We understand what it’s like to watch your husband say the word “run” and lose three pounds, while you run three miles and gain four pounds.  We get it! Why?!  Because we do it too.

With that understanding comes that sense of camaraderie that I mentioned before and … tada, friendship.  I have made some truly wonderful friends in my group.  Some women I talk to on a daily basis, some I only see at runs.  But we all have a sense of connection that we wouldn’t have otherwise. These women are there for me when I have a bad run day and cheer for me when I am shooting for a pace or mileage that I have never done before.  They also hold me accountable for my runs. They know when I miss a run or when I don’t push myself as hard as I could. They may not even say anything, but knowing that they know is often enough to get me up and moving.  Yet, you can’t always meet your goals. It happens to the best of us.  My teammates are there for the bad times too.

Whether it’s a good run day or a bad run day, my running group makes my runs more fun.  Some of my longer miles have only been possible because of the company that I had on them. Running groups aren’t for everyone, but don’t discard the idea of one because you are intimidated.  They sure have made things easier for me, and we all know that running should be easy. ; )