I’m a…runner?!

Yup, I said it. I’m a runner. Me? A runner? Are you kidding?

That can’t be right. Running is hard for me. It doesn’t come naturally. I have to work at it. Everyday is a new day when it comes to running. But, I admit it. I’m a runner and damn proud of it.

How did this happen? Well, I give a lot of credit to my husband who encouraged me to do it in the first place. For those of you who know him, he’s a VERY patient, VERY motivating and VERY upbeat guy. To the point that on some of our early runs, I’d have to tell him to shut up because I was so frustrated that running was hard for me and he’s running next to me, shouting motivating words my way and has barely broken a sweat. Meanwhile, I’m gasping for air, struggling with side cramps and chanting “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this” with every step I took.

It took awhile to get into groove with running. You have to start slow and pace yourself, give yourself walking breaks along the way until you’re able to run more continuously as your stamina and endurance builds. In fact, I definitely recommend the “couch to 5k” program that’s out there, it’s a great way to slowly integrate yourself into the concept of running because not everyone is a track and field star by nature, I’m surely not one of them!

What I’ve come to love about running is two things:

  1. It can be very meditative – especially if you can run outside and soak in the beauty of the day in front of you. I find that, one a good day, I can really drink in the scenery around me during a run and let my thoughts wander. Already, I’ve used that time to think up my next blog post, very inspiring, indeed.
  2. It’s an incredible, full-body cardio workout. I’ve heard it said many times that running is probably the best cardio workout you can do. Yes, it can be rough on the joints but there are ways around it, you just have to be careful and listen to your body.

I’m proud to say that today, I do like to run, I love it most days, hate it some days but like it the majority of the time. In fact, a group of my friends and one of my sisters started a running group a year or so ago where we’ve really bonded over the 5ks (and a couple of 5-milers) we’ve run together. The goal hasn’t been to beat eachother to the finish line. Instead, the goal has been about nothing else than to “Start strong, Just Finish.” Our motto that we proudly display on the t-shirts two of the girls (fellow fitness fiends and sisters, too) surprised us with at our last race at the end of last season. Check out our t-shirt below as well as a group shot of us all proud after our last race at the end of our first season (Sorry Jo, this was before you joined the ranks!).

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See? It’s this that inspires me everyday. The fact that fitness can bring friends together in new ways. None of us are runner’s by nature, it’s always going to be a challenge for us but we do it together, are proud of each other and throw a mean end-of-season party, to boot. Not too shabby for a bunch of girls who weren’t runners…until now.

I’ll leave you with the first song I played on my iPod during one of my early runs that motivated me to finish what I started and also, was quite possibly the song that got me hooked on running in the first place. Yup, “Jessie’s Girl,” who knew, right?

Becoming a Cathlete

Now that you know more about my humble beginnings as a newbie trying to figure out my fitness ebb and flow, I want to use this post to describe how I became a “Cathlete” – or a die-hard Cathe Friedrich fitness fan. For those of you don’t know who Cathe Friedrich is, she’s hands-down the best, most inspirational and by far the TOUGHEST at-home fitness guru ever. She’s been in the industry for 20 years, has always been one step ahead of her competitors (I mean, I love Jillian Michaels but even she doesn’t compare to Cathe, her workouts are incredible, intense, hard-core). It still boggles my mind that Cathe doesn’t have the instant name recognition that others in the industry have, maybe she needs a PR boost, perhaps from a PR Goddess even…know anyone?? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, I discovered Cathe, as I mentioned in my last post, when I started my first job right out of college and wanted to integrate gym routines with some workouts I could do at home. I was newly married and totally motivated to never be the married chick who “let herself go.” Scott thinks I’m nuts for even being concerned with the “letting yourself go” factor, but I’ve seen it happen and I refuse to be that person. I know, an odd goal to have but hey – that’s what makes me a workout fiend/Cathlete, right??

I stumbled on my first Cathe video on CollageVideo.com, a site dedicated to fitness DVDs and workout equipment for the at-home exerciser. The DVD was called Kick Max – a 70 minute kickboxing routine that totally kicked my butt (and still does, today!). If I could pinpoint the moment I went from casual exerciser to total die-hard, it was after I started doing Cathe routines that I started to kick up the rest of my workouts a notch. Nothing else gave me the cardio burn I was itching for that Cathe’s routines did.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve continued to integrate Cathe’s workouts into my fitness regime and most recently completed (twice) her newest endeavor – STS, which stands for Shock Training System. You’ll hear more about that in a future post which for me, has been an amazing journey as it was that weight training routine that finally gave me the visible results I’d been striving for over the years. But before I dive into STS, I have got to dedicate my next post to my fitness nemesis: running. I have some *fun* stories to share on that front which you’ll see in tomorrow’s post.

Workout-a-holic- where it all began

As I promised in my last post, the next few posts from me will focus on my fitness journey and how I became the workout-a-holic that I am today because it certainly wasn’t overnight, that’s for sure! My goal with this blog –ย  one of them anyway – is to use my experiences to inspire and motivate you to sweat it up and learn to love fitness (ok, I’ll settle for liking it for now!) for what it is – your “me” time to pay attention to your body, mind and spirit.

So anyway, where did this all begin for me? It started for me back in high school, senior year-ish, I think. This was when Billy Blanks and Tae Bo were all the rage so I happily jumped on the infomercial-driven bandwagon. Prior to that, I worked out at the local YMCA without much success – probably because my idea of an after school snack on the way to the Y was a donut from the local bakery!

As soon as the Tae Bo videos came in the mail, I gave them a whirl and was stunned at how out of shape I was. I seriously thought I’d die by the end of the hour-long quasi-kickboxing, quasi-martial arts inspired workout. But, I was hooked. I loved the fast pace and felt like I got a pretty darn good workout from it.

Once I got to college a year later, I continued to do the at-home workout thing mixing Tae Bo into other exercise and light weight lifting at the gym. I didn’t see a ton of results but felt healthier knowing I was working out a couple times a week. It wasn’t until I was in my junior year of college that I gained the “freshman fifteen” – it was that year that I chose to live on campus (I did two years at a community college first since I had no idea what I wanted to major in right away). I was still working out but my diet was horrible and I look back at some of those pics – some are pretty good blackmail material, I will openly admit (Jolene and Jen, don’t get any ideas!!).

It was around this time that I started to commit more time to fitness, coupled with a better, more balanced diet. I had recently met my future husband halfway though junior year of college which gave me plenty of motivation to get and stay in shape. I did some digging online for some additional workout videos to add to my repertoire and discovered Cathe Friedrich, a total inspiration to me and someone I have come to admire very much over the years. More on this tomorrow and how Cathe helped me kick it into high gear, into the true Cathlete I am today.

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Sweat ‘o the day note: I can’t tell you how much I can’t wait to spin it out tonight at Group Ride. There is nothing better after a busy and stressful day at work to take it all out on the spin bike, leaving nothing left in the gas tank, as one of my favorite spin instructors likes to say. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So you don’t really know much about me yet…

I’m a self-professedย  workout-a-holic (and PR pro), we know this much about me so far, right? I figured now that I’ve gotten this blog started and am totally in love with blogging already, I think it’s time to take a step back and tell you all a little bit more about myself and how I got so into fitness in the first place.

I’m going to do this in a series of blog posts – today’s will focus on a little bit more about me and the next few will focus on my fitness journey to date.

So, without further ado -more about me!

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Something I’m very proud of is that I’m a triplet, I have two amazing sisters who are more like my best friends and I don’t know what I’d do without them. Here’s how they fit in to my life, fitness, or otherwise!

I have two pretty awesome sisters and guess what? They both blog. I’m last to hop on the blogging bandwagon, funny since I’m technically the “oldest” so you’d think I’d be the first to do things all the time, but not this.

So anyway, Jen is the “middle” sister and fraternal. She’s in the midst of getting her Ph.D. while juggling a menagerie of “kids” (aka pets – two dogs, two cats) and of course, cooking up a storm at home with her husband Josh.ย  I turn to her for the best cooking tips and yummy recipes but sadly, have not tapped her major knack for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers. I do NOT have a green thumb, that’s for sure. I do “borrow” Jen’s whenever I can though. She grows a mean tomato and squash, lemme tell ya ๐Ÿ˜‰

And Jolene, she’s the “youngest” and identical to me. We share a lot of common interests, as a result. We work together and workout together on most mornings during the week. Mostly because she lives about five minutes from me, and let’s be honest, a workout buddy keeps it real, am I right?

I mentioned once before that recent life events have made me realize just how short life is, right? Well, one of those “life events” was Jolene’s divorce, which if you’ve clicked through yet, you’ll see it’s a main focus of her blog. I bring this up in the context of this blog post for one reason – interestingly enough, the last year while Jolene’s been dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of her divorce – the two of us have collectively taken our workouts to the next sweaty level. We’ve taken the spin bike by the horns, we’ve tackled two rounds of STS, we’ve made our second appearance at Cathe’s annual Road Trip in NJ, and we love to hate running (well, I forced her to join me in the “love to hate” battle but I digress…). I think this is mostly because for Jolene, working out was the one constant in her life and to be honest, I was happy to come along for the ride (no pun intended). So, in addition to simply loving to workout anyway, working out with Jolene has been a real bonding experience for us, and for that, I’m truly grateful.

And even though I can’t workout with Jen since she lives farther away from me, I think this past year has been a real year of growth and bonding for all three of us for a multitude of reasons. It could partly be because we just turned (gasp) the big 3-0…which we’ve all embraced in its entirety, so far anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

So today’s post? Not so much about fitness per se, but more about the “breathe” aspect of my blog – or living life to the fullest and never taking things for granted, including the special bond I have with my sisters.

Putting the “M” in motivation

This morning was all about motivation for me – how do I find it, where does it come from and how do I have so darn much of it? Well, to be honest, I don’t think I have much more motivation than the rest of ya’ll, I think it’s more about rationalization for me. As I described in kicking off this blog to begin with, I’m all about balance, everything in moderation and above all, avoiding the deprivation factor (aka “tortured soul mentality”).

As I dragged my butt out of bed this morning while my husband slept away (today is his first day off in 10 days, can you blame him??), I won’t lie, it was tough. For a split second I definitely considered jumping back under the covers in our nice, dark, warm bedroom but I resisted the urge.

How do I do that? It’s all about rationalization that puts the “M” in Motivation for me:

  • If I don’t get up now, I won’t be able to work out tonight because the in-laws are coming for dinner.
  • I know my sister will be up and texting me shortly about her workout (yes, we do text throughout our workouts when we’re at home vs. at the gym together); this one is all about competition, you’ll see in future posts I have a pretty mean competitive streak, this is just one instance of that.
  • I blogged about doing kick max last night as my “therapy” after a frustrating day, so if I bail on the workout this morning, how silly will I look as a self-professed fitness fiend?? (see? this blog is even good for ME)
  • And finally, when was the last time I begrudgingly got out of bed to workout only to say at the end of the workout, “boy, I should’ve stayed in bed this morning.”

This last point is especially important. There have been numerous time in the past where I’ve given in to temptation and changed the alarm clock so I could sleep later before heading into work and I can tell you that nine times out of ten, I hardly slept because I was too busy beating myself up for not getting up to workout as originally planned. The more I can remind myself of those mental beatings vs. the rush of adrenaline after a great AM workout and I’m 100% more likely to get up and get my sweat on. Seriously, give it a whirl tomorrow morning, trust me, it works!

A good sweat is like therapy

I’m already looking forward to tomorrow morning’s workout (yes, I’m an AM workout person, though sometimes I’ll opt for a PM workout, especially on “double-up” days but also when I’m feeling super tired and just need to sleep a little longer).

Some people dread working out, especially when that alarm goes off in the morning and it’s still dark out. I admit it – I hate the alarm clock. But tomorrow? I’m really looking forward to it. A major reason for my love of fitness is that it’s my “me” time – nobody can take it away from me, it’s my time to mentally prepare myself for the day ahead and I use it wisely by kicking the crap out of myself first thing in the morning. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I especially need it tomorrow morning. I had a rather frustrating day and sometimes the only way to shake the negative vibes loose is through a good sweat-fest. It’s my therapy and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

So the big question is – what will I do for my Tuesday AM workout? Hmm, not sure yet but leaning towards one of my favorite Cathe workouts. It’s actually the first DVD I ever purchased from her – Kick Max. It’s a good 70 minute workout filled with kickboxing drills, high intensity moves and a series of leg conditioning drills.

So, I’ll report back tomorrow where I’m hoping I’ll feel refreshed, energized and ready to tackle another busy day at the office. Ah, if only I could wear workout gear to work – I’m never more at home than when I have a cute workout outfit on. I don’t know what it is, but it always makes me smile. Weird? Maybe but hey, I *am* writing a blog about fitness so you tell me ๐Ÿ˜‰

In a previous life…

…I swear I was a personal trainer, workout instructor or some kind of fitness guru.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m good at what I do..dare I say even pretty darn great at it. I’m a PR Manager for an agency that specializes in high-tech PR. In other words, all of my clients talk about things like speeds and feeds, cybersecurity attacks and so on and so forth. Sounds pretty dry, right? Well – it’s not, it has it’s moments like every job – not gonna lie – but its been a great learning experience and it does pay the bills (including those tied to gym membership fees, home gym equipment, Cathe gear, etc.) so I’m not complaining.

But – had I known what I do today about my love of everything fitness, I’m fairly certain I’d be in the fitness industry in some some shape or form.

The reason I bring this is up? Well, I have an opportunity to train to be a Group Kick certified instructor. It would be my first taste at being on the “other side” of the room. Not an active participant in class but the instructor. It scares the life out of me…but also totally piques my interest. It would require a lot of work and training for the next few months but I’m toying with doing it, if for no other reason than to get paid to workout! The catch is that after all that training, while I’d be certified, I wouldn’t be guaranteed a class at my gym (limited spots, blah blah blah). But hey – I guess I’d cross that bridge when I got there, right?

Hmm…as I face another Monday, I’m contemplating the challenge that this could/would bring. At the very least, I’m hoping it would satisfy my fitness cravings, beyond what I do on my own, but we’ll see. Regardless,ย  stay tuned for an update after my meeting with the Group Kick lead at my gym, hopefully in the next week or so.

I love to hate running

So I added running to my repertoire about five years ago, but really didn’t focus on it until about three or four years ago. I fully admit it – I hate to run. Wait, that’s not true. I love it. I love the total body workout it gives me and the total runner’s high (no other fitness “high” compares!) I experience when it’s all over. But…I also hate it, because it’s hard for me, very hard. I’m not a natural born runner. I never did track and field in high school or college so for me, running is not in-bred in me, it’s a learned talent (if you can even call what I do when I run “talent!”).

Every time I run is a new experience for me – I could end up battling side cramps or feel like I’m running through quicksand one day and the next day I finish my run only to feel as though I could run for miles and miles more. How does that happen, I have no idea!

So today was an “I love to run” morning. I met my sister (best workout buddy ever, more on her in a future post, I promise) for a run. We’re planning to run a 5-miler on Thanksgiving (my husband, Scott, and I ran it last year, this was before my sister started running with me – again, more later on this) and figured it was time to do some longer runs. Well, today in New England it’s utterly breathtaking. It’s fall – and my favorite part of fall, when the leaves are still on the trees, full of color and life – and the sky is bright blue, sun shining, just a slight chill in the air. PERFECT running weather. We took off on a new route and I felt great, the whole time too, no side cramps, no feeling as though I had ankle weights on, none of that. It was awesome. As I sit here writing this post, I have that incredible runner’s high, I feel fit, I feel strong, dare I say I even feel beautiful (well, sweaty, matted down hair “beautiful” anyway)!

This is the kind of running I love. I try to remember that for every “hard” or “bad” running experience I have, days like this totally make up for it. I’m hoping that I’ll feel just as good, if not better, on Thanksgiving for the big race. My problem is – when I get into a race environment, my mind starts playing tricks on me and I go into hyperventilation mode. I don’t know why, I think I get freaked out by the time going by and just need to focus on the beautiful scenery, spending time with my running mates (my husband makes a pretty darn good running coach, fyi!) and just experiencing the run, no mind games. So fingers crossed on that one.

I’ll spend more time in a future post on running, and the running group my sister and I started with a group of friends, but for now, I hope you all enjoy your Sunday, and don’t forget to get your sweat on!

EatDrinkBreathe…Sweat?

Well, I did it. I finally gave in and started a blog…about fitness. Who knew, right? Well – for those of you who know me, you know how much I love a good sweat-fest. In fact, it was because of some of my dearest friends and family (you know who you are!) that I’m sitting here blogging for you today. They’ve all had enough of my Facebook updates that revolve around fitness (or coffee or wine, depending on who you ask and what day of the week it is!) and are equally sick of hearing about my latest morning workouts that I figured it was time for an outlet to share all of my workout-related adventures.

So, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I bring you: EatDrinkBreatheSweat. The reason for the name? Well – before I launched this blog, being the Type-A person that I am, I did some research. What I found was a bunch of weight-loss related blogs and hard-core certified personal trainer-type blogs but no blog for the fitness fanatics that simply love to workout but also know how to enjoy life. So while I truly do love, love, love working out – from running to spinning to stepping to kickboxing and weight-lifting – I also love to eat, drink, and live (aka “breathe”) life to the fullest. Recent events in my life have really taught me how short and fragile life truly is. So why would I want to spend it as a “tortured soul” (more on this in a future post, I promise), never allowing myself to indulge in some of my favorites (wine, chocolate, cheese, pizza, and the list goes on)? Well, I wouldn’t and don’t intend to.

Instead – I do what I love every morning: I work out, and hard. My current workout forte includes: running (inside and out, 5ks, 5-milers, hopefully a 10k someday soon), spinning, kickboxing, doing Cathe Friedrich (I’m a huge fan – more on this later) workouts (hard-core weight-lifting, step routines, shock cardio and more) and even a little Core Fusion.

I work out hard so I can play even harder. And so far? It’s never done me wrong. I’m in a very good place in my life and I owe it to the “embrace the balance” mantra I’ve adopted

So check back often – I’ll be posting about everything from the latest workouts that brought me to my knees, to what motivates me on those cold winter mornings in New England, to everything in between.