#digdeep

I’ve found myself using this hashtag often this week on twitter:
#digdeep

Because truly – I’ve had to #digdeep, really deep, throughout this week:
…to put my game face on each day, meeting TONS of new faces, and learning way too much (all at once) about the company I now work for, all jammed into two days of back-to-back meetings.
…to get my butt up each morning to the hotel gym to log some miles this week. Tuesday’s run was what I’d call a sad 6-miler. Wednesday’s run was a puketastic 6-miler. And tomorrow’s? I’m hoping it’s a happy 6 miles’ worth of recovery (intervals nearly killed me). It might not be perfect, but the miles are happening and that’s what I need right now. A small semblance of normalcy.
…..to stay strong when all I wanted to do was crumble and cry because I’ve been missing Scott, particularly after a trying week of frustrating news (perhaps more on this later…).
…to embrace un-routine, learning to navigate healthy eats amid lots of catered meals during the day and dinners out at night. *really* glad I packed so many healthy options in my carry-on – has come in VERY handy every single day. <pats self on back>
…to stay “me” in a brand new environment, way out of my comfort zone, far away from familiarity. But a “me” that’s open to change and taking risks. As you’ve seen me blogging a LOT about this week in particular. Apparently it’s been on my mind or something??

And by far? This #digdeep week has shown me that this was absolutely the right career move for me but more importantly, I’ve surprised myself by being as confident on the outside as I feel on the inside. I *can* do this. I *am* doing this. And it feels pretty damn awesome, not gonna lie.

#digdeep in all it’s glory, people.
Worth. It.

(Editor’s note: Here’s to hoping I remember this post tomorrow AM – since I drafted this post last night – when I’m up at 4:30 to log those miles before heading into the office early to get some work done before my flight home. But as my fab blog friend Heather mentioned in her very well-timed post last night – no excuses. Despite, a very long day ahead. And, yes, this is my mental note to self, thank you for indulging me…)

On “learned behaviors”

Well. I’m glad you all got a kick out of me and my sister’s “progress report” on Core Fusion last night. I can tell you – we had FAR more fun writing that post than you probably did reading it. So thank you for indulging our goofy humor on that one. 😉

Anyway, a recent comment from my super-duper inspiring runner blog friend Naomi got me thinking about learned behaviors.

I had the same reaction when Rulon said those words, probably because up until 7 years ago, I didn’t know *how* to be responsible for my health. Now, in her 60′s, my mom is only just now learning how to be responsible her self. Its been eye opening and made me realize that its something that people need to learn, not something that’s just a given.

Her comment was in reference to my post about the Biggest Loser and one of the contestants who mentioned that they were so grateful for getting something back they didn’t know they lost. Their confidence. Their ability to live a fuller, happier life. To learn how live a fit and healthy life.

Learning how to live a fit and healthy life. That’s the clincher.

It’s not an innate behavior. It’s a learned behavior.

This caused me to stop and think. For me – living fit and healthy comes naturally…it’s practically innate. That simple fact is so easy to take for granted. That my lifestyle is just part of who I am and it’s been that way for so long, I can’t even put a finger on exactly when this became so ingrained in my life. I mean, I have a general idea, but you get the idea.

Fitness, healthy living, balance. These are not learned behaviors. Yet it’s so easy to take that simple fact for granted. That and being ABLE to live this way.

This is a sobering reminder to me – especially on days (like today) when I battle my internal demons who “yell” at me when I end up with two rest days in one week vs. one…or miss / change up a “planned” workout for another. As if there is something so terribly wrong with that. There certainly is not. I admit that I still battle things like that – rest days, the numbers game, etc. So when I sit back and realize that I’m lucky to have this love of fitness so ingrained in who I am? Well, I feel downright silly for those mind games I sometimes still get caught up in.

So I guess what this all boils down for me is this: appreciate that you have learned how to live the life you lead and to love the life you live. Not everyone has learned this behavior yet…and some, well they never will. I find that very sad. It sure makes me rethink my college education…if I could rewind? Sure, I’d love to be a nutritionist or a personal trainer or something related to helping people live healthier, fit lives. To discover that learned behavior and embrace it.

I guess that’s why this blog is still so important to me…even though I battle that thing called presence sometimes, I’m finding that balance. Because I need this outlet to share my passion, to hopefully inspire just one person to move a little more everyday. Anything at all. Just move.

Not all workouts are created equally

But don’t get discouraged, it happens more than you think, and that’s ok.

Not every workout is going to blow your mind (though I wish they would!).

Some workouts are gonna be a lot of work with no real “aha” moment aka “runner’s high.”

Other workouts are going to leave you breathless and damn proud of yourself for making it through.

Some will leave you feeling stronger and more toned than ever.

Others will make you feel a little weak and a lot frustrated.

But that’s ok.

In fact, it happened to me just yesterday: My Core Fusion workout was awesome – it was a new one (Long and Lean for those interested!) and left me feeling limber and stronger in my core. But then last night I completed an STS workout (one more to go and I’m done with the rotation, whoa!) and every single exercise and rep felt ridiculously hard.

Ok, so what’s my point?

I think this is seriously why so many “give up” on a consistent workout regime becaues they expect or assume every workout will knock their socks off. Sadly, not the case. BUT with the right mix of workouts to keep you motivated and coming back for more, that workout routine should be habit in no time.

And that, for me, is the key – making that workout fix a habit. Something you come to miss when you take an all-important rest day. Something you actually look forward to – as sick and twisted as that may sound to anyone just getting their workout groove back. But trust me, it’s true. Before long, you’ll find yourself in my shoes – actually looking forward to a ‘speed Wednesday’ workout on the dreadmill tonight. 😉

But that’s just my random two cents for this ‘speed” (literally – as I wrote this in about 35 seconds today) Wednesday blog post.

Agree? Disagree? Discuss. 🙂

On not “phoning it in”

So.

You know I have a love/hate relationship with rest days, right?

Well a pretty close second to that has got to be “phoning in” a workout versus giving it your all.

Of course, not every workout is going to be killer, but most of them should be pretty damn good or else why bother, right?

This is how I look at it:

  • Workouts are meant to be work. But equal parts fun, too. (again MOST of the time, at least)
  • If you truly aren’t feeling a workout on a particular day, try this: postpone the workout until later to see if you’re “feeling it” at that point; or consider a different workout than you originally planned. You just might not be “feeling”  a particular workout, but something else might totally get you moving.
  • Phoning it in will only cheat YOU, nobody else. This isn’t about comparing your workout to others, it’s about giving yourself the opportunity to give it your all.

Again, not tried and true 100% of the time (and of course, I’m no expert!), but nine times out of ten, I try to follow this line of thinking when it comes to my workout philosophy. At the end of the day, your “me” time spent working out should be your best work, right?

On the other hand, there is something to be said for just getting physical, in some shape or form, most days of the week. And I TOTALLY agree with that thinking too – working out in some shape or form is awesome and so beneficial to your overall physical and mental health.

So bottom line? If 80% of your workouts are your best (and truly “your” best, not anyone else’s definition of “best) and 20% are more along the “just get moving” mindset, you’re doing pretty darn good in my book.

What do you guys think of the whole “phoning it in” concept? Do you agree with my 80/20 rule?

Ah, endorphins

First of all – I have to thank you all for such great comments on my post yesterday about balance and my struggles with it, lately. I can’t get over how honest, supportive, and helpful they all were! And from some new faces, too – love it!

So clearly I’m feeling a lot more “me” and less in a battle with myself which is obviously a much better alternative than how I felt yesterday.

What I realized in spite of myself was something I’ve touched on before but made a big impact on me yesterday – endorphins.

Or lack thereof.

As of the posting of yesterday’s blog, I hadn’t gotten my workout groove on. Which isn’t a bad thing at all – I sure got my butt kicked last night instead- but it DEFinitely had a big impact on my mood all day.

I was in big-time overthinking mode, scrutinizing everything about myself as you witnessed in my post, and just wasn’t feeling very happy, energized or…me.

But after last night’s workout (a doozy – Kick followed by the second to last in my STS mesocycle 2 workouts), I suddenly had new perspective.

I felt strong again.

I felt confident again.

I felt happy.

And, healthy.

Now why it took a good workout to get that groove back, I’m not questioning – I know the answer.

Endorphins!

I’m not saying that the key to all happiness is a good sweat, but…it certainly doesn’t hurt things either. 😉

Just sayin’.

Aside from that – what did I learn from yesterday’s little “balance” rant of mine? That everyone’s definition of balance is very different and very personal. And that’s ok. I think this sort of goes back to my previous post on the one downfall of blogging – the fact that we all inadvertently compare ourselves to eachother. Sometimes doing the comparison thing is good for perspective, but other times it just makes things more complicated, making us over-scrutinize our own choices versus just being confident with our decisions and approach at living a healthy, balanced and happy life.

At the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

That we’re happy.

We’re healthy.

And, we’ve found balance (in our own very unique way).

**********’

BTW – for all of you who have heard me talk up a storm about how great the Exhale Spa Core Fusion DVDs are, mosey on over to Dori’s blog to enter her giveaway. It’s for their newest DVD – Core Fusion Boot Camp. How fun! I promise you – once you try Core Fusion you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. Ok, maybe that’s just me, but you get the picture 😉

Strength training and cardio, and/or?

As I’ve mentioned and blogged about before, I get a lot of questions (mostly from my IRL friends but from bloggy friends too) about workout motivation and the types of workouts I tend to gravitate towards. And I’m happy to say that I’ve seen some of you either kick-start your workouts or start fresh with a workout regime and I LOVE to hear that. I’m such a huge proponent of working out as not just something to do to lose weight or stay fit, but as a lifestyle commitment.  So obviously, anytime I hear about a success story – trying a new workout and loving it or even just getting into a workout routine at all – makes me so happy!

One thing I’ve noticed, especially with newbies or “born-again’s” (ha), is that they not only aren’t sure WHERE to start but WHAT to start with. Cardio? Weight training? Conditioning? Obviously there’s a “walk before you run” approach that should be taken when engaging in any sort of new workout regime (as in, not jumping in and doing too much too fast) – but it seems like a common misconception that most newbies think that cardio – and that’s it – will whip them into shape. And – not that it won’t, or that it’s “wrong” to stick to all cardio – but there are sooo many great benefits to strength training and conditioning work that you’d miss out on (I say all this after having quite the “empowering” Group Power class experience this morning – whoa nelly, did it kick my butt today!).

It got me thinking – maybe most beginners just don’t know how to create a workout regime that includes both cardio and strength training, or simply aren’t aware of where or how to start.  So – I figured I’d put together a couple of recommendations on where to start, rules of thumb, etc. from my own personal experience over the years. I’m obviously not a professional by any stretch – so don’t take these as infinite truths but just ideas or guidelines, if you will. 🙂

  • Mix it up – By that I mean, try to find a balance between cardio work and weight training.  For example, if you hit the elliptical at your gym twice that week, add 1-2 weight training circuits to the mix. I’ve found that lots of fitness magazines are great for beginners looking for routines they can rip out and bring to the gym with them. That’s a great way to start.
  • Test-run a group weight training class – Another great way to get into weight training – especially if it intimidates you at first – is to try a group fitness class that focuses on weight training. You know I’m a huge proponent of BTS’ Group Power class. There are other classes that are similar to that, that many gyms carry, like Les Mills’ Body Pump, for example.  Or – other gyms that simply create their own weight training classes designed to be done in a group setting. Your instructor will be super helpful in showing you proper form and technique along the way. Once you get it down, you can either continue to take the class if you like that setting, or take what you’ve learned to the weight room at your gym.
  • Take your weight training to your living room – There are SO many women out there that don’t even bother trying to figure out how to weight train properly because the sheer thought of setting foot in the weight room at their gym is unfathomable (hello meat-heads!). Why not keep your cardio work to the outdoors or the gym where you have lots of options (classes, machines, etc.) and keep your weight training to the privacy of your own home. Again – huge fan of Cathe Friedrich’s at-home workout programs, ESPECIALLY STS which is just an incredible way to weight train over the course of 12 weeks. She does, however, have lots of other weight training DVDs that are older but still just as good. For beginners, Jillian Michaels’ is another great option. What I tend to like about DVDs at home is that they provide structure, you know exactly what you’re getting into and how and usually the music is pretty motivating.

Now – these are just a couple of initial ideas off the top of my head. I could DEFINITELY keep going but your eyes might glaze over. 😉 I’d LOVE your ideas and suggestions on what’s worked for you – or, if you’re newer to all this, what has held you back or why have you not considered weight training before?

Guest Post: Be Happy, Be Healthy – just be

Well – I am SO pleased to have Alicia over at Poise in Parma guest blogging for me today! As you’ll see, she is SUPER DUPER inspiring given her incredible weight-loss journey and I’m so glad she’s here with us today. I especially love (and may steal, heh) her mantra: Be Happy, Be Healthy – just be. GREAT advice and a great resolution to stick with this year. I hope you enjoy reading about her journey and take her advice to heart, it’s a goodie. Thanks Alicia!! ((hugs))

Be Happy, Be Healthy – just be

Greetings EatDrinkBreatheSweat readers! I’m Alicia – the blogger over at Poise in Parma .  I’m so happy to be guest posting for Jess while she is taking some well deserved vacation! When she asked for her fellow bloggers for their thoughts on healthy living, I was inspired to discuss my weight loss and how I am working hard to maintain it.

You can check out my blog for the FULL story on my weight loss journey, but you’ll appreciate this abbreviated version:

  • Girl goes to college and gains Freshman 15. By January 2002, she weighs 250 pounds.
  • Girl decides to make a change to be healthier overall.
  • Girl sets weight loss goal of 100 pounds. She starts working out and eating right. The weight comes off slowly but surely.
  • Girl hits 100 pound goal in December 2008. Girl is extremely happy and feels fantastic.
  • Girl’s life gets crazy, stressful and unbearable. She finds solace in extreme workout patterns and loses another twenty pounds.
  • Girl weights 127 pounds in October 2009. She is unhealthy and unhappy. She decides again to make a change to be healthier overall.
  • Girl sets new intention in 2010: “Be happy. Be healthy. Just be.” She’s started running and enjoys yoga again. She has eliminated the negative personalities in her life and embraced those who are uplifting themselves along with others.
  • Girl now weights between her lowest point and original goal weight. She had her husband hide the scale and now listens to her body to determine what is right for her.

c/o operationbeautiful.com

I am working hard to listen to my body (and not my mind) when it comes to eating, working out and overall health. I never expected maintaining my weight to be harder than losing it! To help me through, these are rules I live by that are working for me now:

Remember Michael Pollan’s dietary guidance: EAT FOOD. NOT TOO MUCH. MOSTLY PLANTS.

Overtime, I have found myself naturally sticking to this train of thought. If you continue to stick with your healthier food choices, your body (specifically your waistline) will thank you.  It’s also important to get out of the dieting mentality as your new eating pattern must be one that can be maintained for life. Eat a variety of foods in moderation so you never feel deprived.  Yes, I am telling you to eat the ice cream – just not every night!

Live by Lululemon’s advice: SWEAT EVERY SINGLE DAY.

According to Women’s Health Magazine, 420 is “the number of minutes of moderate-intensity exercise needed per week to maintain a healthy body weight w/out making changes to diet.”

Do the math: that comes to 7 – 60 minute sessions a week. Sure that’s a bit advantageous. The lesson here: keep up with the regular exercise and make it a natural part of your everyday life. Schedule time for it in your daily planner if you have to – I even schedule business meetings accordingly to fit in some treadmill time! Also, don’t have an “all or nothing” view point: even just taking a quick walk around the block will help you reach this goal of daily exercise.

If you have a setback, get back on track immediately. Even with careful monitoring and self-awareness, it is bound to happen. Life gets stressful and you put on a few of those pounds you worked so hard to lose. It’s important to quickly respond by getting back on track as soon as possible. I like many of the suggestions in this Prevention article.

Learn to deal with your emotions without relying on food or extreme exercise. You must learn to stop that soundtrack in your head. Put those thoughts on pause! Need some suggestions:

  • If you enjoy yoga, check out Yoga Download that offers free and affordable lessons online.
  • Need something even more peaceful? Look into mediation. Studies show even a few minutes of quiet reflection a day increases you attention span.
  • If you are looking to express yourself in the written form, stat a blog! Get your thoughts out by taking advantage of one of the many websites that offer free hosting: I prefer WordPress .  It’s easy to use for both bloggers and readers.

Embrace the new you. The changes you made to your body may have not gotten to your brain. Trying doing something that you couldn’t or wouldn’t do before: a long, challenging hike, apply for a graduate school program, start dating – whatever makes you happy inside! Doing these new things will help you appreciate the new body you have. Need an additional boost?  Check out these 20 Ways to Love Your Body from Operation Beautiful:

Because ultimately, you can’t embrace my 2010 mantra of “be happy – be healthy – just be” if you aren’t embracing how wonderful you are today. Right now. In this moment.  So as Lululemon instructs us to do: DO IT NOW!

Breathing in every.last.moment.

Well friends, it’s <almost> here – the July 4th long weekend. FINALLY! And up in the Boston area it’s supposed to be a pretty damn perfect weather weekend – super sunny, 90s, perfect for LOTS of time spent outside enjoying every last minute of the long weekend. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. In just three hours, I’ll be logging off from work and heading to our lakehouse in Maine where I’ll spend three glorious days doing nothing but lounging in the lake on our floaties (pictures to come, promise), cooking lots of yummy summer foods, spending time with my sisters, my brothers-in-law, my grandparents and my mom and her boyfriend. Oh yeah, and there WILL be some workouts in there too, obviously. 😉 The road we live on in Maine is perfect for running…and for hill repeats, ack, but they must be done…and that’ll be the majority of my working out time in Maine, an early-ish morning run and the rest of the day by the lake, bathing suits on, no makeup, no hair done, lots of books and magazines to peruse and great company.

It’s times like these that I just want to breathe in every last moment and never let go. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful. It’s relaxing. It’s disconnected from the rest of the world.

And that last piece is key. Disconnecting.

Up until last summer, our cell phones didn’t even work up by the lake. Unfortunately (ha), cell service is much better so my blackberry light blinks no matter what which is both good and bad…ok, it’s mostly bad. But I’ve promised myself that I will  stay away from all things work, and will try to stay away from the facebook and twitter, aside from a few facebook status updates, but that’s a given, right??

So, with that – this is probably the last you’ll hear from me until Tuesday of next week, unless we’re FB friends, of course!

Until then – I hope you all have a spectactular long weekend and breathe in every last moment like I plan to.

Cheers!

The Cathe Road Trip (aka “workout weekend”) is almost here

And by “almost here” I mean, it’s exactly one month from today.

And I’m FREAKING out because I’m so excited.

Why the random freak-out you ask?

Well…that would be because the itinerary was posted last night and it’s even BETTER than the past two years that my sister and I have attended.

Here’s the full line-up so you can either get excited WITH me or laugh at me for being such a workout dweeb for totally geeking out over it. Hopefully you’re with me on this one. 😉

Friday
5:15 – 6:15: FIRST CATHE CLASS: 30 mins step/30 mins kickboxing

6:45 – 8:45: 2010 ROAD TRIP MEET & GREET PARTY AT CATHE’S GYM

9:00 – 9:45:  SECOND CATHE CLASS — Pajamas Nightcap Stretch Class

Saturday
8:45 – 9:45: THIRD CATHE CLASS: 50 minutes Step/10 minutes Abs

10:30 – 12:30: We’ll split into two groups (A and B) of about 50 people each for the next two hours. FOURTH CLASS: Yoga Fit; FIFTH CLASS: Boot Camp

12:40 – 2:15: LUNCH

2:30 – 3:30: SIXTH CATHE CLASS: Cardio Core Circuit/Intense Upper body conditioning

6:30 – 10:00: FITNESS FEAST and ZUMBA DANCE PARTY AT CATHE’S GYM

Sunday
7:00 – 8:00: SEVENTH CATHE CLASS: Lower Body Blast combined with Plyometric bursts

9:00 – 10:45: FAREWELL BRUNCH AT FIVE POINTS DINER <—by then, I’ll be ready to eat everything in sight!

C’MON!! Is that NOT the most fantastic thing you’ve ever seen?! And on top of the six classes with Cathe over the course of the weekend, I’m flying in on Thursday night just so I can take a spinning class or another class in the morning at Cathe’s gym. She welcomes us Cathletes to come workout with her/rest of the gym if we’re there early, even if the “real” Road Trip activities don’t start until later in the day.

So yes folks – that makes EIGHT workouts for the weekend. AHHH!!

I’m gonna be a sweating fool and loving every minute of it. Especially because I’ll be with one of my favorite bloggy friends who I am DYING to meet – Heather (Where’s the Beach?). My sister will be there plus a group of friends from home that went with us last year AND one of the “traveling Cathletes” from NYC who we met last year, Ang (can’t wait to see ya, girl!!). We’re sharing two suite-style rooms for the weekend, it’ll be like sleepaway camp on speed.

So there you have it — full-blown freak out, workout weekend-style. 🙂

Doing what makes you happy…

…seems simple enough, right?

Well, I thought so too until I read this post from my friend Melissa over at Tales of a (Recovering) Disordered Eater. Her post, ironically, was inspired by Bethanny Frankel of “The Real Housewives of New York” fame.  In it, she talks about workout motivation. Essentially – that working out shouldn’t be your best friend OR your enemy. There should truly be a happy medium – even when it comes to exercise because you can most certainly overdo it, and not in a healthful way.

Basically – its not altogether healthy to look at things as very black-and-white all the time, especially related to fitness:

I worked out today – which is “good.”

I didn’t work out today – which is “bad.”

Working out, and the motivation to do so, should like everything else, be done healthfully and with balance in mind, above all else.

And yes – working out should (hopefully) make you happy and not become a source of stress.

Why am I saying all of this? Because this particular idea is sometimes hard for me to fully embrace, admittedly.

I LOVE to workout…and probably a little bit too much. I DO get down on myself if i either take a rest day (which duh, is obviously needed in order for your body to recover) or even if I switch up when and how I workout. For instance – today, I slept in because I was tired. No biggie. I will workout after work and it’ll be just fine. But yet – somehow, I find that I am a little bit “off” today because my routine was altered because I haven’t yet worked out for the day.

Is that wrong? Is that bad? Maybe? A little bit?  But on the other hand, part of the reason I feel “off” is because I’ve literally missed (so far today) working out which I honestly and truly just love because of the burst of energy and the positive mood it always puts me in. Much more so than things like the number on the scale or the size of my pants, honestly and truly.

So, going back to the root of my post – doing what makes you happy. If you’re truly happy working out 6 days a week, for example, and are able to weave it into your lifestyle in a healthful way, I am all for it. If you find that you are adding stress to your life because you CAN’T fit in as many workouts as you think/want/need to in a given week, that doesn’t mean you are “bad” by any means. Or — if you “just” go for a walk versus a run or to the gym to take a group fitness class, that’s OK, too – in fact, a walk is a great way to burn off some steam, get the blood circulating and to set your mind “straight” for the rest of the day.

It’s advice I openly admit I need to take more often. If I go on vacation and don’t break a sweat everyday, the world will not end. If I sleep in and do NOT makeup for it at the end of the day, I will be just fine. I need to remember that and, I have a feeling a few of my bloggy friends will feel the same way about their own (over)commitment to working out.  😉 Sometimes all it takes is a new/different perspective to see the forest from the trees, huh?

In other quasi-related news…I have done a terrible job of banishing the negative talk from my life. I know, I know, it was a new years’ resolution – I started off with the best of intentions, I really did! I think, quite honestly, now that summer has hit, my negativity has crept back in because we’re all baring so much more skin than normal. Case in point – I changed three times for that 30th birthday party over the weekend. Granted – three times is better than in the past (it often topped out at 6 or 8), but still – I changed because I felt “fat.” Totally ridiculous, I realize.  I’ve GOT to get used to living in my own skin and embracing my flaws for what they are – unique pieces of me, that make me, ME. So this is my promise to me, but also to all of you (my sister, included!), that I am recommitting to positive thinking, even if I have to compliment myself everyday. 😉

With that – I think it’s time for me to preorder the Operation Beautiful book, have any of you caught wind of it and decided to pre-order? I’m thinking it’s a must-read this summer…