Archive for tips

Making December Great Again!

“The secret to bigger change is usually found in those small things you do daily. Small steps, and smart daily choices, add up. Healthy and happy is found in the daily details of lifestyle.”

by: Lisa Harrington

December is here, and for many, it is the most wonderful time of the year. However, when it comes to sticking to wellness goals during the month of December, sometimes we don’t make our smartest decisions. December is a challenge for all of us, routines are disrupted and old, unhealthy choices can come creeping in, making the wellness challenge ever trickier. Try following these 3 strategies to maintain healthy goals over the winter holidays.

  1. Identify Your Wellness Strengths and Weaknesses: We all have them, so take time to identify yours. Once you have considered that, then you can develop strategies to adapt and improvise; helping yourself achieve a happier, and healthier holiday outcome. For example, if you do not like walking in cold weather then perhaps you can put together a winter walking uniform that will keep you warm. Then give it a name, like “Mom’s Indomitable Snowman Suit” and enjoy bringing your family or friends a few smiles every time you engage in your physical activity goals! Use your imagination!

If you know that baked goods with added sugars/fats are your pitfall, then you might offer to bring a healthier (but still tasty!) tray to work and family gatherings. A small, smart decision like this leads to other daily, small smart decisions on health. And you are most likely going to give in to a craving, either with too little movement, or too much food. It’s alright; just know that you can get back on track with your next smart, healthy decision!

  1. Watch Portions Closer than Ever: Portion control is the best way to still have a little fun with food while focusing on your health so that you will be around to enjoy many more holidays!  Look for smaller sized plates or spread your food selections out on a larger plate.  Focus more on the people and conversations at food gatherings and eat slower, savoring every bite.  Think, “less is more” with certain holiday favorites. Take sample size bites of the starchy foods, such as casseroles, stuffing and rolls and share desserts with another person.  Take a breath and think through your portions—you can do this!
  1. Be Present in the Moment: Do not wait until January to pick back up on your health and wellness goals.  Diet and lifestyle change is an ongoing process—think of it as slowly un-locking a part of you that is trying to break out and exist. We all have some capacity to fill our mouths with more nutritious foods or lead more active lifestyles, so it is up to each of us to give that person within us a chance to live. Do not lock your healthy, active self away until next month.  December can, in fact be one of the most wonderful times of the year!  So bring your best self out now to engage with your family, play with your friends and serve your community.

Remember, we want to help you achieve your nutrition, physical activity and lifestyle goals—this December and all throughout the year!  Now get out there and make it a happy, healthy holiday!

~Lisa

“Hey Clickbait, there’s something wrong with you.”

“Hey Clickbait, there’s something wrong with you.”
~ internet of things

From viewing today’s twitter feed:
@wrongwrong – You’re doing abs all wrong (running, exercising, eating, etc)
@wrongfood – Forget everything you know about food.
@wrongway – Why you are not getting the belly you want – 6 weeks to a flat belly!
@wrongsecret – Secret yoga poses to lean you out.
@secretscience – 6 foods for 6-pack abs
@buymyshit – Try this at night, you’ll wake up gorgeous.
@glamsquadtricks – Celebrity secrets to the beach body you want.

Scroll down the timeline. Click on the link. Read. Click on another super sounding link. Read. It’s a different sensational headline about how I am not doing this or that right, how I should change, be better, be like this, and be like that. What you are really telling me is I’m broken – and I need your help. I need your product, your fix, to be all that I should be. I’m not good enough. I better click and see what I’m missing. Yes, I am somewhat insecure, and self-conscious about what I see in the mirror. I don’t look like any of the women in the magazines or the advertising. If only I try this or that …

STOP. What the hell is going on? Smart advertising, neuro marketing, that’s what. Slick images that are photo-shopped, or even completely computer generated. Teaser phrasing – and wording to pique your curiosity. Professional athletes, or fitness models/competitors that spend hours every day in the gym. Don’t think for a minute these advertisers haven’t done their research, and know you are scrolling through the social media feeds until some headline captures your attention, or hits home (my hips) a certain way. Wait, I can re-shape my hips with one easy to use product? Before and after pics don’t ever lie … right?
It’s called Clickbait. And it’s effective. Let’s explore.

Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks. Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the “curiosity gap”, providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content.
The key words here, quality and accuracy. Sounds like we digressed to the current state of politics, right? Well, the 80/20 rule applies here. 80% of what you’re clicking through on these sensational headlines doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. Simply put, its bullshit, designed to get you on the path of a purchase somewhere down the road. If you re-tweet or ‘like” – it’s more likely for your friends to think you’ve researched or checked this out already, so a peer endorsement is way better than an advertiser’s claim. That’s where the socially influencing systems are at work, spreading junk science to the masses, many times without the re-poster even being aware that the claim is false. We want easy, we yearn for shortcuts – this is the society we live in.

The truth is … there is truth, and there is bullshit. The old saying, ‘if it sounds too good to be true’ has stood the test of time. You are worth more – take the time to do your own research on the facts before you try, or buy. Be your own best advocate. Question everything. There’s no one size fits all. You’re not doing everything wrong. You are doing many things right – reward yourself for that. At the end of the day, it really is all about those small daily smart decisions that add up over time, to significant change. You are not clickbait, you are smarter than that. Stay curious. Adapt good things into your world as you find them. Designing your life, your way, takes time. Have fun with the process!

let’s talk street harassment. on twitter.

Have you ever been cat called while out running or in other public places?  Let’s chat about it.  Join us on February 5th at 12pm EST with Runner’s World Chief Running Officer and the Mayor of Running Bart Yasso; Runner’s World’s Zelle; Stop Street Harrassment’s Holly Kearl; along with freelance journalist and author of the upcoming book Running: A Love Story Jen A. Miller, whose article “Wearing Her #Whorepants” took social media by storm.

Most of you are familiar with Twitter Chats. If not, the way, here’s how it works: we will tweet the questions, and you can give us your stories, perspectives, thoughts and ideas on how we can all work together to address these important issues of street harassment, cat calling and other harassment and violence in public places. The hashtag we will Tweet with is #RWsafety

We’ve designed two Twitter chats on women’s safety and street harassment in the past year.  We’ve been blessed with wicked smart people who have supported and helped us in our work producing the document Designing a Safer Woman (http://runhers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/DSW_Final_V1_Sept_2013.pdf) – and yes, we should come up with a better name for the project. It was our working project name for Version 1.  Maybe you can help retitle it for Version 2? 

We came across Holly Kearl in our research on street harassment, and she has been an inspiration and a passionate leader addressing these issues here in the U.S., and internationally.  Holly has her own story about being harassed while out running.  She has been instrumental in providing clarity and thought for our research at the hers projects.   You can learn more about Holly at www.hollykearl.com, and you can also learn about her cutting edge work with Stop Street Harassment, which is helping women across the globe, at http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/ .It’s loaded with everything from definitions to research to projects and plenty of compelling articles and stories. 

Here is a link to Jen’s story “Wearing Her #Whorepants”: http://zelle.runnersworld.com/style/wearing-her-whorepants.  Jen A. Miller has been a freelance journalist for the last 10 years, sticking with the work from home lifestyle because she likes running before lunch and working with her Jack Russell Terrier by her side. She’s a frequent contributor to Runner’s World, Running Times, Zelle, The New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer and her memoir, Running: A Love Story will be published by Seal Press in early 2016.

Please share this with men, women and any organizations you think have an interest.  We will compile all of the chat, and write a summary and action plan based on the information shared. 

#runhers #hersprojects

12 week advanced half marathon training

Let’s Begin!

If you are considering the advanced half marathon training – you should have a good history and base if running behind you.  This training cycle incorporates speed work into the cycle, thereby preparing you to run and sustain a faster pace over time.  You should be logging mile splits – which will be very helpful for learning race pace techniques.  The consistency of knowing your splits over a given distance, in training, is key data to provide when talking to talking to your coach about adjusting training strategy, and getting faster.    

Before Starting

Before starting a half marathon training program, you should make sure you are healthy enough to undertake the training.  The half marathon training should not be taken lightly.  Consult your medical professional to ensure you are ready for this important next step!  You should be able to run comfortably for at least 45 minutes before beginning a half marathon 12 week training plan.

Advanced Half Marathon Training Program

Tips & Terms

The following is the running terminology used for training – obviously, the more experience you have – the more training options and speed/track workouts you will use for form, technique and conditioning.

Easy Runs

This means running totally comfortable and controlled.  When running alone, or with your runhers training partner or group, you should be able to converse easily. You’ll likely feel as if you could go faster. Don’t. Here’s some incentive to take it easy: You’ll still burn about 100 calories for every mile that you run.

Rest days

Rest gives your body time to repair and recover, which every person who is training needs.  And getting enough sleep is very important at all times.  Sleep is not a passive state of rest, but an active state of rebuilding, repair, reorganization and regeneration. Always try to get the right amount for you.

Active Rest or Cross Train (AR/CT)

Active rest day is meant to be a light or easy day where you’re still moving, but not at the intensity you normally move.  It promotes recovery without the intensity of regular training. Light swimming, or easy cycling are examples of active rest.  Cross training can include biking, core workouts, upper body workouts, yoga, pilates, stretching, or any number of other types of workouts.

Long Runs and/or LSD (Long, Slow Distance)

These are any steady run at or longer than race distance designed to enhance endurance, which enables you to run longer and longer and feel strong doing it. A great long-run tip: Find a weekly training partner around your pace and ability for this one.   You’ll have time to chat about anything that comes up.

Speedwork

Speed training.  Something you may hear often, but may not completely know how to execute or add to their running schedule.

As with many things, when you start anything new, it is important to take ‘speed work’ cautiously and start with smaller, shorter workouts and work your way up. There are different levels and periodization to consider with speed training, it’s a building block, and you have to work your way to the top.

Before we get into the levels of running, I want to get you familiar with the term Conversation Pace. It is a word that you will hear and see quite often when it comes to a training plan. Conversation Pace(CP) is performed at an easy, gentle pace where you can easily hold a conversation while running and heart rate is maintained at approximately 110-140bpm. The goal of CP is to train the cardio respiratory system and muscular system to efficiently use oxygen for a longer distance.

Speedwork, broken down!

Strides

Strides lay the foundation of speed training. A stride is a short burst of running for 80-150 meters. You start at a conversation pace, build speed for 40-100 meters, and then slow back down to finish the distance. It promotes efficient running form, great for short distance running, works fast twitch muscles.

For beginners, strides can be added in as speed work to replace, or in addition to, a short conversation pace run. Start at 6 strides per workout and increase your way up to 10 as endurance improves (1-2 weeks).

Strides can be used as a complete workout for new runners by repeating 6-10 times with a 1-2 minute rest, in addition to an easy run or as a warm up and cool down for more advanced runners 2-3 days per week.

Tempo Run

A tempo is a steady, controlled run performed at a pace faster than a half marathon pace, at or slightly under a 10k pace.  It improves endurance and lactate threshold, teaches patience, and to run outside the normal comfort zone.

For middle distance training, tempo runs are generally 20-30 minutes and up to 60 minutes for marathon plus distances. It should be preceded by a 10-15 minute warm up and followed by a 10-15 minute cool down.  A runner can transition to a tempo run by breaking it into 10 minute segments with a 2-5 minute jog between the tempo pace.

Fartlek

Also commonly known as “speed play” – is structured or unstructured fast bouts of running with a mix of speeds for an unspecified period of time. Each run can vary in paces, distances, and terrains.

The goal is to run a sub-maximally pace, along with short spurts of maximal pace, 70-90% effort level.  This type of running trains your cardiorespiratory system and muscular systems to work efficiently, and use oxygen with minimal muscle stress. Fartlek runs are great for all levels, teaches the body to run uncomfortably, and to gain patience and mental strength.

The length and distance can be a shorter distance/time than other runs (20-30 minutes) because of the effort level, but requires a longer (10-15 minute) warm up and cool down.  An example of executing this type of run: while running in a neighborhood or trail use landmarks as starting and stopping points. You can increase your distance each run, pyramid the distance, or any combination. The purpose of the run is to run faster than your comfort zone for a distance that your body can sustain for a period of time with minimal rest (1 minute) in between sprints.

Hill Running

Hill repeats are performed with a continual brisk run uphill with a relaxed conversation pace downhill or flat surface. Hills are used to increase running strength and mental toughness, decrease risk of injury,  and to prepare for a specific type of race course.

Pace and number of repeats is dependent on the type of hill grade and goals; however, you should aim for a submaximal pace with bouts at maximal pace. When adding in hill runs into your training, ideally you want start with a grade around 5-7% over a 200-600m distance, at or faster than conversation pace.  As your running advances, you can increase the grade level and distance.  After a 10-15 minute warm up, perform 5-8 repetitions followed by 1-3 minutes of rest by jogging or walking in between repeats.  For smaller grade hills, aim for a faster 5k pace and decrease to 10k or slower as grade increases.

Note on form when running hills: obtain a forward lean without hunching or curling upper body, shorten and increase your arm cadence.

Hill runs are beneficial and can be created for all levels of runners, but always need to be treated with respect. Due to the intensity of the run, it is crucial to warm up, cool down and stretch accordingly. Over training and disregard to rest can lead to stress on joints and muscles.

If hills are not accessible in your area, be creative, have fun with it, add stairs in your run, parking garage ramps(caution!), use cross training equipment at high levels (stairmaster, elliptical etc.).

INTERVALS

Intervals are at the top of the running pyramid; to be performed at the peak of your fitness level.  They are a structured run with a specific amount of repeats, distance, pace and recovery. Most commonly performed at a track. This type of running improves fast twitch muscle ability, promotes efficient running form, teaches patience and mental toughness, and to run at a low grade of discomfort for longer periods of time. Due to the intensity, runners should complete all levels of the pyramid, run more than 20 miles per week regularly and have a base of 500 miles built before moving to the interval phase.

There are many different types of intervals, repeats, ladders, pyramids, and mixed paces. For athletes running a middle distance race (half marathon), an example of a starting interval would consist of a 10-15 minute warm up, 5 x 400m faster than conversation pace, 90 seconds- 120 seconds below conversation pace or walk recovery, 10-15 minute cool down. For marathon+ distances a distance of 800m+ should be performed.

The number of intervals should only be increased in 2-3 week increments, performed no more than once a week for novice runners and followed by a rest day or easy recovery run.  The goal of intervals, are to be performed at 95-100% effort level.

Speed work is not meant to be easy, but when incorporating anything new into your training schedule, it is crucial to take it slow, build up properly and respect what your body is capable of at that level. Someone who is new to running shouldn’t jump right into speed training without having a solid running base.  Listen to your body and be smart with your training, if you successfully completed 5x400s last week and are feeling great this week, that doesn’t mean you can jump right into 7-8 400s this week. Stick to your plan and know there is a reason behind periodization; you have to give your body time to adapt.

Be smart with your running and most importantly have fun with it!

 

 

 

 

happy 2015

A new year brings new goals, and high ambitions to tackle all those race goals. There are many opportunities for you to do just that this spring. As you can see we are working with several different races with multiple distance options.  This is a great time to join in all of our running fun and take advantage of our group trainings. However, with multiple options it can be difficult to make the decision of which race(s) and distances to pick.

One very important thing that I cannot emphasis enough, is not getting caught up in the advertising hype, and taking on too much, too soon. It can be tempting to dive right in and run all of them, but you can also greatly increase your risk for injury.  You may see more seasoned runners who are able to run back to back races in a short period of time; however that does not mean that is appropriate for everyone. Take your running fitness level and base mileage into consideration – and determine what the best option is for you over the long term. Overtraining can be just as harmful as under training so I encourage you to think about what your overall goal is, and what race is your top priority and adjust your training accordingly. I am happy to talk to you individually on that.

For instance, if you are new to racing but want to run your first half marathon this year, and don’t have the mileage built up yet for Go Girl Run (March 22), the best option for you may be the OKC Memorial Marathon on April 26th.  You can start with the Go Girl 5k, continue with your longer distance training, and then use the Red Bud 10k for more experience. Then, you can complete your goal with OKC Memorial Half Marathon.  Or if you want to run the Go Girl half but don’t want to miss out on our other race events, make that your priority. Follow our 12 week training for that, run a strong race then consider running the5k/ 10k at Red Bud and the 5k or relay at Memorial. And for those who do have more race experience, and want to run both Half Marathons for a new challenge, I say “ROCK ON”, just be smart with your training and listen to your body!  Let me know if you need extra help with increasing speed or racing strategy.

It is going to be an amazing spring racing season with many opportunities to do great things! runhers is a wonderful, supportive community of women – who will cheer and push you all along the way. My goal is to keep you healthy and strong, so that running/walking is a long term lifestyle that you are still doing many years down the road. Remember, there will always be more races and WE WILL be there! Make the best decisions now, in the short term, so you are able to see that through to the end!  If you ever have questions about your training and “how to fit it all in”, never hesitate to ask, I am happy to help and want to see you perform at your best!  Those small daily decisions add up, so, here’s to a great 2015!

~Coach Sara

Director of Training Programs (and Energy)

 

feeling stressed?

Editor’s Note:  Below is a great article from the National Institute of Health (NIH).  Trying to balance everything in today’s world brings many stressors along for the ride. Of course, some stress is actually good for us. As Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the UC, Berkeley states, “Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance.” However, chronic stress has serious consequences- especially if we don’t develop ways to cope effectively.  The one thing we think is important that isn’t addressed in the article is laughter.  Finding ways to laugh is crazy good for your health!  So, yuk it up as early and often as possible, you’ll be happy you did.  Read on:

 

Stress Relief Might Help Your Health

Winter holidays—do they fill you with joy or with worries about gift-giving and family gatherings? Do summer vacations leave you relaxed or fretful over travel and money? If you’re feeling stressed out over supposedly fun things, it might be time to reassess. Take a few moments to learn how stress affects your health and what you can do about it.

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Stress can give you a rush of energy when it’s needed most—for instance, competing in sports, working on an important project, or facing a dangerous situation. The hormones and other chemicals released when under stress prepare you for action. You breathe faster, your heartbeat quickens, blood sugar rises to give you energy, and your brain uses more oxygen as it shifts into high alert.

But if stress lasts a long time—a condition known as chronic stress—those “high-alert” changes become harmful rather than helpful. “Stress clearly promotes higher levels of inflammation, which is thought to contribute to many diseases of aging. Inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, frailty, and functional decline,” says Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a leading stress researcher at Ohio State University. She and other researchers have found that stress affects the body’s immune system, which then weakens your response to vaccines and impairs wound healing.

Research has linked chronic stress to digestive disorders, urinary problems, headaches, sleep difficulties, depression, and anxiety.

“Some studies have found the physical, emotional, and social effects of a disease like cancer to be stressful for patients, caregivers, and long-term cancer survivors,” says NIH’s Dr. Paige Green McDonald, an expert on stress and cancer biology. “However, there’s no definitive evidence that stress causes cancer or is associated with how long one survives after a cancer diagnosis.”

The top causes of stress in the U.S. are money and work-related pressures, according to a 2013 survey from the American Psychological Association. Stress can also arise from major life changes, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, illness, or losing a job. Traumatic stress is brought on by an extreme event such as a major accident, exposure to violence, or a natural disaster such as a hurricane or flood.

Caring for a person with severe illness—such as dementia or cancer—can also be a significant source of stress. More than a decade ago, studies by Kiecolt-Glaser and others showed that the stressful demands placed on caregivers can lead to poorer health, lower responses to vaccines, increased inflammation, and a more than 60% higher death rate compared to non-caregivers.

It’s not clear why some people can sidestep or recover more quickly from stress than others. These resilient people seem to “bounce back” more easily after stressful situations. Recent studies of animals suggest that resiliency may depend at least in part on our genes. But learning healthy ways to cope with stress can also boost your resilience.

“There are many different ways to cope with stress. We know from a lot of different studies that having close personal relationships—people with whom you can talk, with whom you can share your feelings—can be helpful,” says Kiecolt-Glaser. “So spending time with family and friends in order to maintain those relationships is perhaps one of the most crucial things you can do as a stress reducer.”

Unfortunately, Kiecolt-Glaser adds, “when we’re stressed, we tend to do the worst things that are not at all helpful to our health.”

For instance, stressed out people may tend to isolate themselves and not seek social support. “Exercise is a great stress reducer. But when people are stressed, exercise becomes less common and less appealing,” Kiecolt-Glaser says. “Instead of maintaining a healthy diet—also important to reducing stress—some people who are stressed tend to eat more donuts than vegetables.”

You may think that the agitation brought on by stress might help to burn calories. But evidence hints that the opposite is more likely. Kiecolt-Glaser and colleagues found that, compared to nonstressed people, those who were stressed burned fewer calories after high-fat meals and they produced more of the hormone insulin, which enhances fat storage. “So stress may contribute to weight gain and obesity through these biological routes,” Kiecolt-Glaser adds.

Getting enough sleep is also key to resilience and stress relief—although stress itself can interfere with sleep. To improve your sleep habits, go to bed the same time each night and get up the same time each morning, and limit the use of light-emitting electronics like computers and smartphones before bed. The light can reduce production of a natural sleep hormone called melatonin, which then makes it hard to fall asleep.

Beyond recommendations for exercise, healthy diet, social contacts, and getting enough sleep, Green McDonald says, “studies have also shown that mindfulness (focused attention on one’s own emotions) and other meditative practices can effectively relieve stress.”

“Mindfulness means staying aware and conscious of your experiences. No matter what we’re doing, we can always make time to bring our attention to our breath and body and stay there for a short period of time,” says NIH psychologist Dr. Rezvan Ameli, who specializes in mindfulness practice. “Recent studies show that even short periods of mindful attention can have a positive impact on health and well-being.”

Other NIH-funded studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can reduce stress, alter brain structure and function, and have a positive effect on the immune system.

“Mindfulness is a simple and effective tool that anybody can use to reduce stress,” Ameli says. Although the concept is simple, becoming more mindful requires commitment and practice. You can learn more about mindfulness meditation from local resources like yoga or meditation classes, mindfulness-based stress-reduction programs, or books.

If you feel overwhelmed by stress, talk with a health care provider or mental health professional. Medications or other therapies might help you cope. In the long run, reducing stress may help you to slow down and enjoy your time with the people and activities you really care about.

Tips To Reduce Stress

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost mood and reduce stress.
  • Build a social support network.
  • Set priorities. Decide what must get done and what can wait. Say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.
  • Think positive. Note what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day, not what you’ve failed to do.
  • Try relaxation methods. Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or tai chi may help.
  • Seek help. Talk to a mental health professional if you feel unable to cope, have suicidal thoughts, or use drugs or alcohol to cope.

References:

Daily Stressors, Past Depression, and Metabolic Responses to High-Fat Meals: A Novel Path to Obesity. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Habash DL, Fagundes CP, Andridge R, et al. Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Jul 9. pii: S0006-3223(14)00385-0. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.05.018. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 25034950.

Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Davidson RJ, Kabat-Zinn J, Schumacher J, Rosenkranz M, et al. Psychosom Med. 2003 Jul-Aug;65(4):564-70. PMID: 12883106.

NIH News in Health, December 2014

december’s challenge checklist

 

By: Coach Sara McCauley 

There’s no denying it – holiday season is upon us and in full force! Schedules become full of events, shopping, celebrating and eating, which means less time that you want to spend working out. This is may not be the best time to commit to a new fitness plan, however you can make a commitment to get the best out of each situation. Time doesn’t always allow you to go to a full gym workout, or a long run – BUT I know you can fit in something each day, even if it is 5 minutes! Something is better than nothing.  I put together a schedule for the month of December, which includes short workouts you can do, anywhere at any time. You can follow the calendar exactly, and take the guess work out, or pick/choose an item from the checklist each day.  It can be a very stressful time of year – you owe it to yourself to have a little “me” time.   

As far as all of those treats and eats that are everywhere, enjoy them! However that doesn’t mean ALL of them. It’s the season for chocolates, sugar everything, thick sauces, adult beverages, etc. – so, while there is no reason to deprive yourself, or completely eliminate the temptations, I do encourage you to make smart decisions.  Here are a couple of tips to help keep your goals in mind, eating under control, AND your sanity through the holidays: 

  • PORTION CONTROL:  When eating from a buffet style meal, make ONE plate. Choose appropriate servings of your selection and stick to that. Don’t go back for seconds. Drink water, and give your body enough time to settle. If you decide at that point you are still actually hungry go back for a protein or veggie.  
  • EAT BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME: If you are attending an event that you know will not have sensible options, or not sure when your next meal will be, eat a healthy meal before you leave home.  This doesn’t mean you have to become a social outcast, you can still eat what is offered, you’ll just have something healthy already in your stomach (veggies!) – so, you don’t over eat out of starvation.   
  • KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS HANDY: Keep a protein bar or quick snack in your purse, at work or in your car, just in case. We all know those “quick” shopping trips can turn into an all-day event, so be prepared. Keep that HANGER under control, no one has time for cranky pants! 
  • POTLUCK: Chances are you will attend one or many of these before the month is over.  So, you control what you eat. Why not YOU be the one to bring a healthy dish? There are thousands of healthy AND tasty recipes that can be offered, hello Pinterest, that do not require a lot of effort! This way you know there will be a smart choice at the party, and you can introduce new options to more people! 
  • EAT YOUR VEGGIES and HYDRATE:  Notice the vibe yet?  Stop complaining and just eat your greens! We’ll put aside all of the many health benefits that veggies offer, and stick with the simple fact:  they provide a great source of fiber which keeps you fuller longer AND keeps your system regular. I urge you to drink lots of water throughout the day.  Keep water close at all times. Try to get at least 96 ounces. Reach for your water after a meal, before that dessert, and between meals. Often times you eat out of boredom, or you think you feel hungry, but in reality you could just be dehydrated and need fluids.    

We all know that the holidays test every bit of will power, and your ability to make good decisions. Remember, it’s alright to indulge a little. If there is something that you REALLY want than eat it, in the proper portion, then move on. Don’t let guilt consume you, you have enough stress. Let it go! Try to get in as much activity as you can, even if it’s not all at once, sneak little bursts in, it does add up. Make the commitment NOW to stay healthy and make smart decisions through the upcoming weeks!  You will be happy you did in January!  

Let’s GO!

  1. 50 PushUps 50 Starjumps
  2. 20 minute Fartlek Run
  3. 40 Jumping Jacks, 40 Jump Squats, 40 jump lunges
  4. 100 Pile Squats, 20 half squat, 20 full, 20 half with heel raise, 20 full with heel raise, 20 pulses
  5. 5 minute wall sit (take short breaks to complete)
  6. Yoga stretch
  7. HIIT 40/20/4 High knees 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, Plank Jack 40 seconds, rest 20seconds,    complete 4 rounds of each.
  8. 60 single leg deadlifts, 60 hip bridges
  9. 100 Crunches, 20 slow crunches, 20 right, 20 left, 20 bicycle, 20 butterfly
  10. 100 Lunges,  20 alternating front, 20 alternating back, 20 right, 20 left, 20 jump lunges
  11. 5 minute plank variations, high, low, side, legs lifted, arms lifted (break as needed)
  12. Park furthest away from store to add in extra walking every time you go to the store.
  13. Running in place, squat jacks, plank walk, 1 minute of each, 3 rounds total
  14. 200 mountain climbers
  15. 2 burpees, 2 leg lifts, repeat 4, 6,8,10
  16. 60 superman extension up to a high plank
  17. 100 Vups, modify as needed
  18. Foam roll your tight overused muscles
  19. Booty Burner, 50 Alternating back lunges, 50 front lunges to balance, 50 single leg decline bridges (use a step or couch)
  20. Run 1-3+mile run, make the time for yourself, do a few laps in your neighborhood, get some fresh air!
  21. Take the family for a walk or run, start a family tradition
  22. Step it Up! Use a stair, chair or a study bench, 1 min of each: alternating step ups, step up to balance 1min each side, side step up to leg lift each leg, jump ups(box jump)
  23. Plank Jumps: 20 of each repeating twice. Front:High plank position, jump feet in together, Right: jump feet to the side then to the center, Left jumps, In& Out: start with feet together, jump them out wide then back in.
  24. Fast pace laps around the mall before shopping
  25. 10 push ups for every glass of eggnog
  26. 100 push up challenge (can be throughout the day)
  27. 1 mile run time yourself, try to beat your time next time
  28. Take the stairs everywhere you have the opportunity
  29. 20 Squats every time you check your Facebook on your phone
  30. 20 second plank for every gift you wrap
  31. Alphabet abs: lay flat on your back, lift your legs off the ground, feet toghet “draw” the alphabet with your feet
  32. Ab Burner: 20 frog crunches, 20 bicycle crunches, 20 leg lifts, 20 side plank with dips, each side, low plank with hip dip 20 each, high plank with leg ext 20 each, 2 min low plank hold
  33. Tabata Squat Variations 20/10/8: 20 secs of each squat, 10 secs of rest, 8 variations of squats. Wide squats, side to side squats, squat jumps, split squat(each leg counts as 1), squat jacks, chair pose, squat pulses
  34. Firecracker: 50 jumping jacks, 20 star jumps, 20 plyo push ups, 20 explosive jump lunges, 20 back lunge to high jump each leg, 50 jumping jacks

 

balance: the teeter totter of life

Balance is the one thing in my life I am constantly working on and shaping. Just like a teeter totter, it shifts back and forth. Sometimes the sway is every minute, while other times it is much larger and requires more attention to get the balance closer to the neutral point.

Life balance is not the same for everyone. For instance, an extrovert needs more social stimulation for an energy boost, while its counterpart, the introvert, recharges their battery by having some solo time. Knowing what you need in your life is crucial in the dance to find your balance.

I am currently at a place where my balance would physically exhaust most people. This fall I am doing three half-marathons, getting BODYPUMP certified, and teaching three PILOXING classes a week. Plus my normal workout schedule. It also includes adequate nightly rest, regular food prep at home, taking care of my clients at the salon, running a business, and my weekly run with my runhers ladies. I do still have time to catch up on my favorite shows, see my friends and family, and have an occasional nap in there, too!

One area I am making a conscious effort to work on is not telling others what their life balance looks like. Is it not always easier to dissect someone else’s life instead of taking a hard look at our own? Yeah, I have been there, too! The truth is I have no idea what keeps another person feeling more in balance. I walk in my shoes on my journey, and you walk in your shoes on your journey. All I can hope for is that you are mindfully working on creating and finding what your balance is.

Why is life balance important? Simple. Life runs smoother. Personally, I am less stressed and frazzled, which keeps me more rational and lighthearted. I also have time to breathe, really admire, and give gratitude to my surroundings. Have you taken the time, or even noticed, the colors of fall happening around us? Or, the bright orange and pink sky early in the morning, and at sunset? Just take a minute to stop, take a deep breath, and reset. Balance.

Some ideas that have helped me:

  1. On Sunday, plan out your weekly to do’s on a paper calendar and give adequate time for all things. Include work, sleep, workout time, “me” time, friend and family time, home maintenance, etc. This will help you manage your time and will show you in advance what kind of flexibility you have for the week. Feel free to make it colorful and fun! It’s your calendar.
  2. Know what your heart and soul need to stay centered. Life balance includes your mental health, emotional well-being, and your physical self. Do not apologize for making those needs a priority. You will be the best version of yourself and able to give to those around you more when you are more in balance. If you are craving a Netflix binge, but the house needs cleaning, by all means … watch a little Netflix. The house will still be waiting for you when you are ready!
  3. Know that perfect balance is not the goal or something to achieve. Life balance is like yoga: it’s a mindful, daily practice. You get better at it. It will evolve as your life evolves. Make adjustments as needed.

My balance right now has included new challenges. I have been in my career for twelve years, and wanted a change, so I have stepped into the fitness industry on the side. It has not taken away from my time in my business at the salon; however, it has added another level of fulfillment to my life now. I don’t know if this is a lifelong venture, but it’s in my today, and I am embracing it 100%. 

Live. Life. Beautifully.

~ Staci

domestic abuse/unhealthy relationship/dating violence


Editor’s Note:
Our Designing a Safer Woman Guide is built to cover many issues relating to women’s safety. And it does cover some basics on domestic abuse and unhealthy relationships. This section is especially timely given all the attention in the media these past weeks on domestic abuse. We must continue to raise the bar, and the awareness on this issue that affects so many women. Violence against women is serious, even deadly. We must do all we can to support each other and find solutions within our communities. If you are part of an organization that deals with these issues, and have tips and/or resources you’d like to share, please contact us: info@runhers.com

One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background.

Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. What might have begun as an intense show of affection can quickly turn ugly if boundaries are intentionally crossed and you see the signs of abuse listed below.

BEHAVIORS THAT MAY INDICATE A PROBLEM

  •        Checking your cell phone or email without your permission
  •        Constantly putting you down and making unflattering comments
  •        The presence of extreme jealousy and insecurity
  •        Anger control issues and explosive temper
  •        The process of isolating you from your family and friends
  •        Making false assumptions and accusations
  •        Wild mood swings and acting emotionally imbalanced
  •        Any physical abuse whatsoever
  •        Possessiveness and intimidation
  •        Telling you what to do, where to be, how to act, etc.

POTENTIAL ABUSER STRATEGIES TO BE AWARE OF

  •        They might use an Intrusion Test where the perpetrator subtly checks out your boundaries by physical proximity, comments or demands on your time and attention.
  •        They might use Desensitization Tactics.  You become accustomed to these intrusion tests, and no longer notice when your physical/social/emotional boundaries are crossed.
  •        They might use Isolation Tactic. The perpetrator isolates you, or waits for a situation where you’re isolated, to provide an opportunity for an assault/rape/attack.
  •        They may have frequent angry outbursts.  These outbursts are meant and intended to intimidate or control you.
  •        They ignore you or don’t believe you.  They keep testing and discounting your “NO.”
  •        They intrude or continue to intrude your personal space and are almost always too close or try inappropriate touching or other body contact.
  •        They frequently interrupt you and/or make intrusive or insensitive remarks, such as about your body, other women, etc.
  •        They use Forced Teaming which is making it seem like you have a mutual problem that you jointly have to resolve.
  •        They use Loan Sharking, which is doing you favors so you may feel like you owe him something or give him the benefit of the doubt.
  •        They use Typecasting which is calling you a name (snob/racist/lesbian, etc.) which they want you to try to disprove.  

 

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…