Of (fit) bucket lists and things

Hi friends! I’m baaaack! 🙂

And this pretty much sums up our glorious ‘lakation’ in Maine:

That would be me stealing a spot on my sister’s chair to lounge my legs on while we sat dockside for pretty much the entire trip up to the lake house. It was so perfect. Perfect time with friends. Perfect sister time. Perfect hubby time. Perfect gram and gramp time (complete with gram teaching us to make our first blueberry pie!) Perfect me time. So perfect I really can’t put words together to describe the trip properly.

…so I won’t even try. I hope you don’t mind.
(and for those of you following me on instagram, I apologize in advance for all of my annoying “omg it’s so beautiful here” pics, hehe)

In other news — I *did* successfully knock an item off of my fitness bucket list while we were away. A (fit) bucket list I’ve been keeping up with over on pinterest with lots of fun items on it, a few of which I fully intend on knocking from that list this year.

One of them is hitting that 26.2 goal of mine. 
…but you knew that already. 

The other one? Feeling confident enough to go for a run in just a sports bra and shorts. 
…seems pretty simple, right? 

But for me — this marked a pretty big milestone moment. Of me finally feeling comfortable enough in my own skin to not give a rat’s ass care what anyone thought of me (good, bad or otherwise) while I was out there running some miles. The confidence I’ve been working towards since the barre n9ne challenge first began for me last May, a confidence I’ve been chasing for years and years. A confidence in who I am today, tomorrow and forever — a confidence I’ve finally chased and snagged. And am holding onto for dear life.

So yeah, this happened:

With my sister and bestie Steph — two of my fit friends that have been right there with me on this journey of mine from the start. Quite fitting if you ask me. Also fitting? That it was muggy as all hell when we took off for our run last weekend in Maine. Holy sweatfest.

So how did it feel, you must be wondering?

To be honest, I was expecting to have some sort of an epiphany. To feel this giant rush of some sort. But instead, I felt…normal. As if I should have been / could have been doing this all along and why-did-I-wait-so-long-to-do-this sort of thing. It sort of felt like no big deal. But I guess that’s kind of the point, right? If it DID feel like a big deal, if I DID feel exposed or conspicuous or something then maybe it would mean I’m not quite ‘there’ yet. As in not quite as confident and comfortable being me as I thought I finally was.

I guess that’s my takeaway then. It was no big deal. But not because I had built it up way too much in my head and it was a giant fail. Nope. It’s because I really *am* that confident and happy person at last. I am who I am. And happily so. 

…and maybe this big 14-miler (holy PDR time!!) I have planned for tomorrow will be done sports-bra style too. Just maybe. 😉

12.5, Proof.

This would be the smiling faces of two very-pleased-with-themselves rundaters:

(pardon the giant forehead shot, haha)

Saturday marked that 12.5 prove-you-can-do-this-half-marathon run I talked about earlier in the week. I needed this long run to be a good, solid, rockstar run. To prove to myself, to that brain of mine, that I can — and will – rock 13.1 on May 6.

And wouldn’t you know — that’s exactly what Saturday’s run proved to me. It was the #PROOF I needed that my body — and my mind — are more than ready to nail the Providence Cox Rhode Race half in just a few weeks. *Such* the confidence boost I needed.

A quick recap of how the run went down:

Set out around 7:45 after a *really* good night’s sleep on Friday. Sushi the night prior apparently makes for really good pre-long-run fuel. Highly recommended.

Didn’t eat much before I left. This was by design — I just can’t run with much in my stomach…unless I have hours to digest it. I didn’t have that luxury on Saturday. So a handful of fiber one cereal (random, I know) and a bit of water and off we went, handheld water bottle in hand (er, in Scott’s hand) and Honey Stingers stuffed in my pocket.

Utterly gorgeous Saturday morning — bright, bright sunshine, gleaming blue skies, birds chirping. Slight chill in the air. The first leg of our run was fairly uneventful, ‘cept for a really good push up this long, rolling, hill that totally sneaks up on us no matter how many times we run this route. That hill’s got nothin’ on us, for the record. 😉

The second leg of our run was admittedly tougher. Mostly physically tougher vs. mentally. I tried to push the thought out of my head that we had a good 6 miles left to go, but my body was the constant reminder that the miles were starting to add up. My knees were a little achy (mainly the ache from piling on the miles, not an achy/pain/something-is-wrong ache) and my upper back was starting to get tight. (I think I’m focusing a little *too* much on keeping proper upper body form when I run now…I totally blame that on my barre n9ne practice which is *all* about form. I need to relax that ‘shoulders down and back’ b9 form thing a bit when I run I do believe…note to self.)

It was the final mile of our run when the whole #PROOF thing really settled in. I thought to myself that we literally just ran almost 12 miles and I still felt pretty darn good, all things considered. And if I was feeling that decent on a training run, I sure as hell ought to feel pretty decent running all 13.1 on race day. I got this, why yes, yes I do.

And guess what? By the end of the run, I was tired, sore and ready for the oatmeal I’d been dreaming about for the past 12.5 miles (hehe), but I didn’t feel half bad otherwise. No pukey feeling (as has been known to happen to me in the past on long runs and post-race…I think this fueling thing is finally working for me), no I-want-to-die feeling.

Just spent, worked — and proven.

It’s all I needed. Well that – and a good long stretch, too.
With picture #PROOF of course (see? I really DO stretch now, look at me!)


PS – remember that time I mentioned I was itching for change? Well – I went for it on Saturday. In a big way. This is by far the sassiest haircut I’ve EVER had. Not gonna lie — I kinda love it 😉

Intervals. FTW!

Monday morning, this happened:

That would be me, covered in sweat, totally worn out but with such a look of glee in my eye, I just couldn’t help but post this pic to twitter right after I finished my interval rounds. <–what? I was proud of myself, ok? 😉

Plus, it goes along nicely with what you might already be seeing a lot of on twitter and in bloggy land — for us FitFluential Ambassadors (a group I love more and more by the day!), we’ve gotten into the habit of not just talking about our workouts, but PROVING them out by tweeting and blogging about that hard work with picture proof. So if you see me talking up the whole #PROOF thing a lot more up in here, you know why. I love seeing everyone’s sweaty, post-workout glow, it’s so cool!!

But anyway, back to those intervals I mentioned. The reason I was so proud? Not only was I able to push faster during my favorite go-to mile-repeat style intervals, but I felt REALLY strong and happy throughout. <— Happy during intervals? Is she crazy?? (yes, yes I am)

The intervals in question – looked like this (you’ve seen these before):

Mile 0-.5: warm-up @6.8-7.0 mph
Mile .5-1.5: speed round@ 7.6 7.7 mph <–improvement!
Mile 1.5 – 1.6: recovery round @4mph
Mile 1.6 – 2.6:
speed round @ 7.6 7.7 mph
Mile 2.6 -2.7: recovery round @4mph
Mile 2.7-3.7:
speed round @7.6 7.7 mph
Mile 3.7-3.8: recovery round @4mph
Mile 3.8-4.8
: speed round @7.6 7.7 mph
4.8-5.5: Recover!

Thank you happy and really well-rested legs for pushing me through some speedtastically fun intervals to kick off Monday morning in style. I guess the whole 9-miler that didn’t happen this weekend was what did it for me. Maybe that’s my body’s way of telling me that a little speed work in lieu of endurance work isn’t such a bad thing now and then, hmm?

Either way, I was really happy with this, especially the progress I’m seeing with my speed and my ability to push through the pain. I’m hoping this translates well on race day – which is almost a month away. Eeks. How did that happen??

The #PROOF is in the SWEAT

Sweat. Is. Good.

All I can say is this. Last night’s run was a make-or-break-me as a runner style run.

It wasn’t a rockstar run like Saturday.

It wasn’t an I-could-run-forever kind of run.

It was a huge challenge. Mentally. Physically. All of it.

But I LOVED it.

You know why? It proved to me that no matter the conditions, no matter the mind games my brain tried to play on me, no matter the heavy stomach feeling that plagued me, I stuck to my guns. I pushed through. For all 7 sweaty miles. With the hubs by my side. In uber-warm running conditions for March. (wearing running shorts and a tank top on the second day of spring MORE than made up for those short-falls, trust me).

All of that aside — it was an awesomely puketastic sweatfest.

And if looks could kill? Well I’ll tell ya what that look in my eye would say:

The #PROOF is in the SWEAT.

Why yes, yes indeed.

***************************

Although I’m riding quite a runners high at the moment (I wrote this post last night), I *did* want to share a few lessons learned/lessons applied from this run while they were fresh on my mind:

Lessons learned & applied:

That Nathan handheld water bottle? Best investment ever (and yes, the hubs carried it for the majority of the run, what a guy!). Remember that run last Wednesday? The one where I swore I would puke after? Yeah – that did not happen last night. I felt great afterwards. Thank you hydration! <–see? I *can* take advice!

Honey Stinger chews are awesome. Even Scott liked them. (which is huge since he can be so picky!). Totally got us through the toughest part of our run last night.

Lessons Learned (to be applied later):

Yogurt pre-run just doesn’t work for me. Every time I thought about what I’d eaten before our run I kind of got a little gaggy. Note to self – avoid dairy before a run. Stick to the carbs you were originally planning to have before the run. Much nicer on the tummy.

Any food pre-run must be digested for at least 1.5 hours. Anything less and I’m plauged with that “heavy stomach” feeling. No bueno.

Wear sunscreen. Um hi – I’m pretty sure I have a sunburn going on here. In MARCH. Whaaat?

Paying it forward – my way.

A big reason I tend to write with such passion on this blog?

Paying it forward – my way.

Sure, I may not be certified to be your personal trainer. Or offer you RD-approved nutrition tips and tricks for healthy eating. But what I can offer? Personal experiences that have evolved me into the woman I am today: the fit, healthy, strong, happy and confident woman I am today.

This confidence and strength didn’t happen overnight. Don’t let me fool you. It’s taken me years and years to get to a place where I can look in the mirror and say “I like that person smiling back at me, today.” This is my proudest moment to date: the day I stopped being afraid, the day I befriended the mirror, the day I fell in love with myself. A day I never thought I’d ever see — something only dreams could possibly be made of.

So I pay it forward – my way.

On this blog. I write from the heart. I draw from personal experiences alone. I strive to help others in any way, big or small, that I can. And, if something I say on this blog resonates with just one person. Just once. I’ve paid it forward.

Through the weekly barre n9ne rundates my sister and I host at the studio. To help other beautiful, strong, fit women recognize their own inner strength through running. My heart soars every time I hear them talk about building up their run-durance, doing the run/walk thing and sticking to it, feeling proud of every minute they ran vs. walked. It reminds me to always stay humble, to always appreciate and show gratitude for my own ability to walk, to run, to race – 5ks, 5-milers, half marathons, and soon – a full marathon.

In the barre n9ne studio and on the barre n9ne challenge forum – our budding little home for words of encouragement, inspiration and rounds of applause as each woman achieves a new milestone. It could be sticking it out during the shake at the barre; or losing an incredible amount of inches after their own 60-day challenge (like mine); or learning to love their food log for the tool that it is — a tool of empowerment, where food becomes a tool, a fuel-booster, and not something that controls you in any shape or form.

And, as a FitFluential Ambassador – something I haven’t delved into too much just yet on the blog, but let me tell you – in the short time I’ve been a proud member of this community, it has opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunity to continue to pay it forward.

…which is what this blog is all about – my “audition” if you will, to pay it forward on a much grander scale. To write for a broader audience than my own – drawing from my personal experiences that have lead me to this place: a place of strength, passion, and conviction.

Because if this blog — EatDrinkBreatheSweat – stands for nothing else – it stands for breath(ing): Breathing in your own inner beauty. And drawing strength from it. Breathing in every moment of your day as if it were your last. And showing gratitude for each day. And, Breathing through those moments in life that become life changers, evolutiondrivers. Much like the moments I’ve described above that brought me to this amazing place I am in today.

Paying it forward – my way.

Why I log

<Editor’s Note: I struggled with drafting this post – mostly because I find I have a much harder time putting into words just how food logging has impacted me in a positive way, so hopefully this post makes sense to you guys when you read it!>

One of the things I’m really digging so far about being a FitFluential Ambassador is the great conversations we can have on Facebook (private group) – it’s opened my eyes to some awesome new perspectives and introduced me to some pretty fab people, I must say.

One of the topics that came up recently was about food logs – where to get started, which apps are best for tracking, etc. One of the questions on that thread was around the “reason” or “motivation” to calorie count – beyond the obvious one: weight loss.

It got me to thinking – why do I log? I’m the one who tends to avoid anything that has to do with numbers (fitness-wise) yet here I am a huge fan of the food log and calorie counting. I’m even hosting a whole Fitblog Chat (Feb 7, mark your calendars!) on the topic of the “numbers game” yet the food log is one where the metrics and tangible aspect of it really works for me.

So, here it is — my (attempted) answer to the question: “Why I log”

The long and short of it? It works for me. And to be honest, I was SO hesitant to return to food logging when I started the barre n9ne 60-day challenge last May. I feared that it would take the “fun” out of eating, that I’d feel too restricted, that I’d lose that balance in my life that I so, SO craved. That I’d lose a part of me.

But what I learned instead? That I was *not* living a very balanced life prior to the start of the challenge (and my subsequent return to food logging), even though I fooled myself into thinking I was. I was way, way, way overdoing it every single weekend — not just a “cheat day” but a “cheat weekend” or “cheat week” were perfectly normal and acceptable to me. I worked my ass off all week at the gym and ate well during the week (albeit probably consuming more calories during the week than I needed, even if it was all healthy foods). But once the weekend hit? No holds barred eating/drinking fest. And I wondered why all the hard work I put in all week, spending hours at the gym, wasn’t resulting in a fitter body.

It wasn’t until I learned to embrace the food log as a tool for a healthier me, that I finally found the balance I thought I had before. And guess what? Food logging doesn‘t steal the joy out of food for me (because I still very much find joy in good food and a good glass of wine) – my biggest fear.

Instead, food logging has empowered me:

…I now have a MUCH better understanding of what my body needs (and doesn’t need), calories-wise (I eat the same number of calories everyday, weekends included, long run days included)
…I’m so much more in tune with my body’s hunger cues (and lack of cues) than ever before.
…I’ve learned to eat until I’m satisfied – and I understand how satisfied “feels” – versus eating until I’m done (two very different things).
…I now know how to plan ahead if I’m going out to dinner (where calories are harder to manage) or to a party or just plain ‘ol want a few glasses of wine during date night. Eating lighter during the day (without starving myself, don’t worry) so I can have a few glasses of wine with Scott later that night, for example.
…I understand how to eat for fuel, particularly during long run days (which will become even more important once I start training for Chicago!) and also how to recover, post-run.
…and most importantly, I still very much enjoy the foods that I love – even the supposedly “unhealthy” ones like my beloved dove chocolates or our famous homemade thick-crust pizza, so I never feel deprived or as though I’m on a diet. Remember – this is my year of no boundaries, right? 😉

Bottom line? I log for me. Was it easy to get here? Of course not. It took adjusting to a consistent number of calories everyday, no wild peaks and valleys. But now that I’m here? It’s helped me to find an incredible sense of balance that I’ve never had before. And I dig that. I also dig that my clothes fit better (um, smaller?) and that I never, ever wake up with a food hangover (worst feeling everrr).

Food doesn’t drive me anymore. I drive me. How empowering is that?

FitFluential Five – the “me first” approach to balance during the holidays

I’ve just become the newest (and proudest) member of the FitFluential Ambassadors and so far, all I can say is this: damn is this one highly inspired, motivated, driven and fit bunch of people! I LOVE IT and am so glad I took the plunge. (check out the FitFluential blog here if you haven’t already)

One of the areas we’ve been talking about lately is the concept of balance…and the holidays. The one time of year that tends to toss as many curveballs at us as possible. From holiday parties with friends, to the loads of treats that magically appear at the office, to the many, many, many “reasons” to skip the gym –the balancing act is just so much tougher for most of us this time of year.

Personally, in the last couple of years, I’ve taken the “me first” approach to the holidays, as terrible as that may sound, initially.

But hear me out….

“Me First” and the holidays – a FitFluential Five:

1 – Get comfortable with the word “no.” Just because you’ve been invited to the sixteenth holiday party in the two weeks leading into Christmas and New Years, doesn’t mean you automatically have to accept the invite. If you’re feeling spread entirely too thin, that you’re here, there, and everywhere and feel a little lost? My advice is that “no” is ok. No guilt needed. Your friends will understand.True friends will, anyway.

2- Consistently aim for “me first”  moments in your day. The hours in the day somehow get shorter and shorter as the holidays near. So maybe you aren’t able to get your usually killer workouts in (in their entirety, anyway) some weeks. Instead of giving up entirely, throwing in the towel “until the new year” – aim for mini “me first” moments in your day. Drop and do a set of planks and push-ups before bed. Get up a few minutes earlier to stretch out sore muscles. Take a quick walk during the day at work to grab a coffee – enjoy the few minutes of fresh air and that time *not* spent at your desk. Those little “me first” moments will add up, keeping you sane and centered. Balanced. Of course, if you can stick to your workout schedule as much as you can during the holidays, all the better. If you’re like me, you’ll no doubt feel much more centered with a semblance of workout consistency amid  the holiday fun.

3 – Eat well. Consistently. Seems like a no-brainer but I think it’s far easier to throw caution to the wind when the word “holiday” comes into play. It’s like suddenly the unspoken rule of “it’s the holidays, do it up!” comes out in full force. And before I go any further, I’ll stop and say – I’m not a party pooper, I swear. I love good wine, good chocolate, good food. But I also like to feel like “me” during the holidays – which means eating like “me” as consistently as I can during the holidays. Choosing my battles – an extra glass of wine or the frosted sugar cookie I spy on the dessert table at the holiday party. You get the idea.

4 – Make every moment count. One of my biggest faults is “can’t waiting” for the weekend, for the next social outing, for the next date night, etc. I end up rushing through life when I do that and miss out on the little moments that make the world go ‘round. It happens even more during the holidays. Sometimes the best way (for me) to slow down and embrace every moment is to literally stop myself in my tracks and whisper to myself “slow down.” I did this last night, actually. I was starting to panic about all of the holiday parties I’m hosting this year and I was sucking the joy right out of the whole thing. I pulled back. Settled into the couch. And made a to-do/to-buy list. A giant one. Assigned dates to each item. And suddenly, I was calm again. Everything felt doable. Not stressful. I felt calm and excited to embrace every single holiday moment spent with loved ones.

5 – Just be. My friend Steph has instilled this mantra in me this year. This goes hand-in-hand with #4 in that the more I step back, focus on moments and memories, the more I’m able to stay in the moment and just be…happy, fulfilled, content, joyful, energized, just…me.