What change means.

This year has revolved around a whole heck of a lot of change for me — and most of that change was by design. After proclaiming 2012 as my ‘year of no limits’, I’ve intentionally looked for change. Seeking out opportunities to try new things, get out of comfort zones, break down boundaries. Get uncomfortable, stay there, even if I was afraid of it.

And it’s that mentality that has paid off in spades for me this year. Worth. It.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a LOT about what change means…and after recent reading got my wheels turning even more on the change front, I thought it was time to blog about it here.

What change means…perception. What tends to be the hardest part about change? Not the physical act of the change on your day-to-day life, but the perception change that often takes far longer to happen.

I’ll give you two examples.

Example #1: It’s no secret that I’ve shed a few pounds and inches this past year thanks to my focus on barre n9ne, and it’s changed my body in some pretty awesome ways. I’m very proud to say that today (and no, I don’t believe it’s vain to feel proud of hard work like that). Yet, I still sometimes find myself struggling with self-perception. I sometimes look in the mirror and “see” imperfections that truly aren’t there. I sometimes sit and fear that I’ll suddenly revert to the “old” me from a year ago who was unhappy, frustrated, sad. To me, that’s a sign that my brain hasn’t fully caught up to who I am, what I’ve become, and where I’m going…yet. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just one of those “things” that comes with change — the need to accept and embrace new perceptions as a result of whatever change is going on in your life.

Example #2: At work, I used to find myself happily set in my ways, head down, working away, not often making time to socialize around the office or whatever. Now, in this (sorta new) job of mine? I recognize that the ‘heads-down’ mentality isn’t always the right approach. I’ve always been a work-horse on the job, proud of myself for being able to juggle a lot, and plow through to-do items like a fiend. But sometimes? It’s not about ticking items off a list, spending your days like you’ve always spent them.  Sometimes, it’s about the communications and socialization aspect of my job that matters more. Sometimes its about doing things, seeing things, approaching things…differently. It’s something I’m constantly pushing myself towards — it’s an uncomfortable area for me, for sure, but it’s good, needed change. But again, it’s a perception thing (and a habit thing for sure) for me…it’s time to shift it.

What change means…facing fears.  Fear is a hard emotion to face, and even harder to overcome. Fear of the unknown. Fear of heading into un-charted waters that you maybe have yet to face at all in your 20-30-40+ years on this earth. But what I’ve learned this past year? The more you face fears, the more you seek change, the more you LIKE change and want more of it. I’ve found it to be crazy liberating to finally be at a point where I can enjoy change vs. run from it.

Heather’s post that I linked to above struck such a chord with me yesterday when I first read it. Her words from the Lululemon retreat she just went on:

When you stand in nothing*, you open doors to possibility.

Let those words settle in for a sec.
…unreal, right??

When you let nothing get in your way (preconceived notions, perceptions, fears),the sky is truly the limit. Change becomes the gateway to those “doors of possibility.”

…the more I think about it, the more I’m digging these “doors of possibility.” Where’s the doorknob? 😉


Running towards 26.2

This week feels monumental. It’s the first week of marathon training for me and Scott. Our first-ever marathon. Chicago. October 7th…d-day.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m a ball of emotions. Mixed ones.

I guess I have a pretty big fear of the unknown here. I have no idea how I’ll respond to marathon training. If I’ll love it (like you’ll all keep telling me I will!). If I’ll surprise myself by what my body becomes capable of doing over the next 16 weeks. If my whole goal of making this marathon training thing a part of my life but not my WHOLE life will work. If it’ll be fun.

So yeah, I have a lot of questions, a lot of unknowns going on here. But I guess that’s what this challenge is about for me — it *is* my year of ‘no limits’, and I have promised myself to get uncomfortable as much as I can this year, so I think what I need to do here is one thing: find my game face and put it on.

With that — here’s my plan outline for the next 18 weeks. I thought about sharing my entire training schedule with you here but you know what? That schedule is going to change about five jillion times over the next four months. So instead of sharing it with you in its entirety, I’ll share my approach  here and of course, will be blogging like a fiend about our training ups and downs throughout. I hope you don’t get sick of hearing the word “marathon” up in here because I’m fairly certain it’s going to be in heavy rotation. 😉

Chicago Marathon training – the EatDrinkBreatheSweat edition:

Focus on quality over quantity of runs per week (thanks to some really awesome advice from this girl, someone I admire very very much as a runner but also as person, I heart you girl!). What does this mean exactly? That I’m planning to run 3x/week for the majority of marathon training. I will start with 4x/week to start (which is what I usually train at) since mileage will be lower, but as the miles add up, I want to focus on making each run count. And each run will have an endurance element to it. Rather than spreading out my miles over three shorter runs and one longer run,  I’m going with one long run (12-20 miles) and two mid-distance (8-10  miles) runs per week.  Endurance is my #1 goal for training. All I want to do is finish this marathon — I’m not planning to break any land/speed records. 😉

Cross-train via barre n9ne classes (taking and teaching). This is ‘non-traditional’ in terms of cross-training as most would envision it (i.e. spinning, ellipticalling, swimming, etc.)  but it’s worked so well for me that I’m sticking with it. I’m a firm believer in strength training as hugely important to overall fitness…especially as a runner. I hate to see some runners throw strength training out the window when in “training” mode. To me, it’s the last thing you want to do — your body needs to be strong to endure the stress that running puts on the body.

Rest. Stretch. Rest. I am planning on at least one rest day per week and allowing for two rest days if I need it as the miles add up. And I will embrace that rest. 100%. There will also be regular stretching – both in barre n9ne class but also on my own. Tight hamstrings and hips are not a runner’s friend.

Hmm. After jotting this all down I’m feeling much better about my marathon training schedule and plan. I guess maybe I needed to ‘blog it out’ in order to get my head in the game, my game face firmly in place and my excitement level where it ought to be.

So here we go…26.2:  Scott and I are running towards you. Ready or not. 😉

Honest and real

It’s about to get honest and real up in here.

I’m having doubts.
…about that *little* thing I signed up for on October 7th.

The Chicago Marathon. My first full marathon.

It’s ironic — and honestly, very frustrating — that I’m having moments of self-doubt and downright fear this week after just posting about how far I’ve come this past year, thanks to the barre n9ne 60-day challenge journey I’ve been on. A journey that has shown me that I have every right to love the skin I’m in, and to be confident in my abilities, in my strengths…in ME.

Yet, I’m doubting the marathon thing. Not just a little bit. But a lot.

…can I do it?

…do I (still) want to do it?

…what am I doing?? 26.2 is ridiculous.

...why am I doing this?

It’s that last question that really got to me.

why, why why.

Why 26.2?

Because I need to prove that I’m a serious runner? Nope, that’s not it. I run for me, not for a title, not to “belong,” but for me.

Because I said I would? Well kinda…but that’s not a good enough reason to put myself through 16 weeks of training.

Because this is my year — of no limits, no boundaries, and a helluva a lot of “getting uncomfortable?

Let’s face it — I’m only doing this thing once (and I MEAN that). And this is truly my year — both mentally but also physically. I am the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been. My body is ready for the pounding it’s gonna take from marathon training.  This is it. Game on.

So why am I afraid? I guess its because I’m human and facing something as daunting as 26.2 miles is effing scary. It just is. It’s a powerful thing to say that your body was able to overcome the odds and ran 26.2 miles (because let’s be honest, very few in this world will ever do it). And I *do* want that. I guess I just don’t want marathon training to rule my life for the next four months – and maybe that’s why I’ve felt hesitant, scared, doubtful.

So I’ve made a deal with myself. Quite simply: I won’t allow marathon training to overcome me, my life, my semblance of balance. I know it won’t be all puppies and rainbows each and every week but I’m damn committed to making sure I’m having fun along the way. That I’m still following my #1 fit passion which is barre n9ne (sorry running, you come in 2nd place!). And that I’m still living life fully, happily, healthily and my way.

Ultimately, that’s the only way I’m going to get myself through marathon training without letting fear overcome me, without letting that creeper named “self-doubt” poke his head in the door, and without letting it steal my joy for other things in life.

So yeah, this is me being real, honest and 100% me here. Running this marathon is a HUGE goal of mine. But it’s not my life. It just isn’t.

I know this might sound counter-intuitive to those of you who *have* run marathons before, but I gotta go with my gut on this one.

(and on that note, be on the lookout for my “rebel without a cause” version of a marathon training plan. I’ll be sharing that with you next week!)

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”

While flipping through a recent issue of Women’s Health (April issue) on my flight to Cali yesterday, a really awesome quote caught my eye. It was in an article profiling Kristen Bell (who seems like she’d be super fun to hang with in real life, I may have a girl crush, haha) where she shared some of her favorite things. One of those favorite “things” is a love of great quotes.

After reading this particular quote, I feel like having it tattooed to my forehead or something – it is so powerful when you come right down to it:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I mean…just think about that for a minute.

Wow, right??

How often do we allow outside influences to shape our feelings towards ourselves? Those outside influences could be anything from some random comment uttered by an overly judgmental friend (who may mean well but her intentions are misguided); to something you read in a blog post or a newspaper article that stung you a little for one reason or another;  or simply a misperception that well, you’re not good enough because you haven’t experienced xx, yy, or zz…yet.

So you sit there, letting whatever that influence was that stung you, and you allow it to make you feel inferior, less-than-worthy, downright not good enough.

We’ve all done it. Many, many times.
…but why?

Why let someone or something make you feel inferior just…because? Why allow it or them to make you feel this way? Why

I’d call it a really bad habit. A habit that can be broken (just like any bad habit, really). It takes practice. Diligence. Consistently pushing down the urge to allow that inferiority to creep into your mind’s eye.

This is one habit I’m ready to break – particularly as I get ready to stare down 26.2 miles this fall. Sure, I haven’t done “it” yet and sure I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. But just because I haven’t experienced it yet, doesn’t mean that I’m not worthy of experiencing it or capable of doing it. It just means, quite simply – I haven’t experienced it yet.

But I will. 😉

This is just one example of pushing down inferiority, though. I could apply this to about a jillion other areas of my life. Particularly this year, my year of no limits – where I plan to continue to live on that edge of discomfort, striving to embrace lots of net-new this year. Even if it’s downright scary. And yes, even if it makes me want to fall back on that feeling of inferiority, of not belonging.

Because guess what? Nobody knows you “don’t belong” if you don’t let on that this is the case. So fake it ‘til ya make it. And please, kick inferiority to the curb. “She’s” not welcome in these parts.

<< Editor’s Note: I wrote this on the plane yesterday after reading that quote and being totally awe-struck by it. But interestingly, I’m already experincing that “pushing down inferiority thing” out here and I literally just got here. I’ll share more at the end of the week — but let’s just say that reading that quote when I did came at exactly the right time…funny how that happens. >>

Why I run: today.

I’ve talked about this before. Why I run.
I even revisted the topic once after that.

But after this weekend’s race — my 4th, and best, half marathon — I feel the need to revisit the topic once more.

Why I run: today.

It’s been a 2+ year process (my previous two “why I run posts” were from April and September of 2010), but I finally trust myself. To run for me, my way, with a smile on my face. That’s why I run. And continue to run. For me; for that confidence it’s given me; and for that trust it’s shown me I’m worthy of. I run from the heart.

I am who I am because I run. I strive to be better — in all areas of my life — because I can, sure. But after seeing what a little hard work and determination can do for my running journey? Anything is possible. And I now fully apply that “anything is possible” mentality to all areas of my life — an incredibly invaluable life lesson I gained through running.

I run for me, but also for Scott. For us. It’s been one of the biggest bonding moments for us — pushing ourselves through four half marathons and committing, together, to 26.2 this fall? Crazy bonding moment after moment. It’s this unspoken thing between us almost, this quiet confidence we have in ourselves, and in eachother, to see this thing through to the end. Whatever “the end” may be. The “end” of a hard-fought race. The “end” of a training cycle. The “end” of a regular, run-of-the-mill rundate. Or the “end” of a 26.2 mile jaunt through Chicago. We’re in this together. As they say, “couples who run together…”

And, as I’ve said before — I never, ever take for granted the sheer ability to run. To push harder, to strive for more (hello sub-2 I’m coming for you!), to see my body perform like a pro — running for miles and miles, something many people on this earth will never see or experience, even if they wanted to. ((Ability.)) It’s a gorgeous, blessed thing.
…I run for those who cannot.

This is why I run: today.

13.1 goal: crushed.

My goal for my 4th half marathon: to run (13.1) happy.

That goal?

From the moment I went to bed on Saturday night, to the moment the alarm clock rang at 4:50am — I didn’t feel nervous. I felt ready. I felt happy.

Upon meeting up with Christine for the drive down to Providence, we chatted about our goals (goal-less, truly) for this race, both agreeing that running a happy race was our #1 priority. And Sam readily agreed when we met up with her in the parking lot near the starting line.

It just felt…right. That we were all in this to run happy, proud, strong. Much, much, much less focus on numbers than ever before. For any of us. (of course, there is now a big ‘ol number in my head after the fact, but let’s get there first, shall we?)

And that difference? The focus on running happy miles? It put me in the exact right mindset for this race.
…I felt trust.

Trust that my body would carry me through the miles.

Trust that my mind would quiet, allowing me to run freely, proudly.

Trust that I wouldn’t hit that wall, that I’d power through.

Trust in Scott who would push me when I’d start to fall into my comfy little pace on him.

Trust in my training.

Trust in me.

And that, my friends, is what carried me through 13.1 — along a beautiful course in Providence where I’m damn proud to say that I killed every hill that crossed my path and powered through the miles, never once hitting the wall (not truly anyway, though miles 9-11 felt like forever), finally trusting my body to do the work. Doubt was left in the dust.

So when I say that I CRUSHED my goal for this half marathon? It’s true. I have never felt prouder or stronger in my life.

(Pre-race — ready to rock it out)

(Post-race — those are some happy runners, huh??)

Now. Let’s talk numbers. Just for a sec. I finished this race in 2:03:10, that’s about a 2-minute PR off my last half marathon, and a mere 3 minutes from a secret reach-goal of mine. (Yes, I had a secret reach goal!).


I hate to say it but I just can’t help it. I have a goal in mind now that, yes, is very much numbers-driven. I want a sub-2 half marathon. So badly. It was just three teeny tiny minutes away today. Three. I can eat those three minutes. I KNOW I can.

So now what? Is there another half marathon in my future before the big 26.2?
…I think there may be.

As Scott said to me after the race (and he is SO right)“If you met every goal the first time you tried for it, life would be boring.”

So here’s to living as un-boring a life as possible. One filled with infinite possibilities. No limits, whatsoever.  One where I’m always game for reaching and re-reaching for dreams and goals until I capture them. And one where for now? I’m drinking in these moments. The post-race glow — a glow driven by pride and joy, above all else.

A May(be) plan

Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m a spastic-OMG-must-write-everything-down-and-create-spreadsheets-for-everything planner.

Hilarious, right? But seriously — so, so, so true, at least for me. I think this is largely why I wind up with bouts of OATT regularly…I let the days jumble together to attack me versus taking each day as it’s own “thing.” Y’know, kinda like that “in” thing I mentioned yesterday.

So anyway, when I realized that May was upon us (um hi, yesterday was May 1st, how the hell did that happen?!) — the wheels starting churning. I mean, really – how could they not churn?

…the half marathon is almost behind me.
…the barre n9ne teacher training is long gone and I’m happily in my teaching groove.
…my not new but I keep calling it new job is five months deep.
…we’re nearly at the halfway point in the YEAR.
…my year of ‘no limits.’

So yeah, it’s been a busy, jam-packed year so far. Which kinda makes my heart soar with glee, not gonna lie. It’s been a full and happy and passionate five months. Of reaching for dreams, capturing them and chasing the rest. I dig that. This full life that I lead.

But back to my point – the whole planning ‘thang. The OATT-er in me obviously wants to plan the next month down to a science, with every little detail in place (not gonna lie, there have been spreadsheets involved…). The wannabe anti-OATT-er in me wants to *try* to go with the flow more in May. I mean, once June hits — I’ll be in MARATHON training, OMG. The next four MONTHS will be filled with schedules. FILLED.

So this is my little reminder, I suppose, to call this month the month of May(be) Plans vs. all-out OATT-filled plans.

A May(be) plan, you say? Yup, I’m calling this month the one month out of the entire YEAR where I try to stick less to schedules a little bit more. May(be). I’ll be traveling for work this month — which throws me into un-routine. Something I clearly need as a way to un-train myself of these OATT-ing ways of mine. This month also includes the Memorial Day long weekend which always means a gigantic bash for Scott’s birthday each year — and this year being his 35th (!), I want to make it extra special. 🙂

The only thing I truly plan on doing this month, if I could quantify it in some way? I’d say it would be filled with lots of  “in” moments — of the barre variety for sure, perhaps of the running (without any rhyme, reason, distance or plans in mind) variety, and most definitely of the embracing each moment variety.

Hmmm…this May(be) plan is shaping up pretty nicely, if I do say so myself. Perhaps this recurring case of OATT Syndrome is on its last days afterall?

(one can only hope. and by “one” I mean my husband, who has the patience of a saint for putting up with my regular OATT-ing ways, heh)

An honor and a priviledge

After watching the Boston Marathon on Monday, pushing through a few really challenging runs the past few days and prepping for a really busy week at barre n9ne as we kick off a “soft launch” series of classes in our second location, I got to thinking.

…what an honor and a priviledge.

Seriously. I have been presented with such opportunity in the past year. To follow dreams, pursue passions, and truly live by my mantra for the year: no limits.

I think it’s just so darn easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that we quickly forget what priviledged lives we live, by and large, at least.

Thinking back to the marathon on Monday — and how hard those runners fought through the miles. Their bodies never letting them down for a second — their ABLE bodies pushing them through the heat and exaustion and into a realm so few will ever experience in their lifetime.

An able (and fit) body.
…an honor and a priviledge.

Thinking about this marathon of mine coming up this fall — and having the willpower, the strength and the time to commit to training strong for 26.2 through this summer and into the fall. To firmly check that item off my bucket list and come away from this marathon an even stronger person as a result?

…what an honor and a priviledge.

And, thinking about how my schedule is shaping up for this week alone at barre n9ne. I get to teach THREE times on Thursday – once at 6am (subbing for another teacher), again at 9am (my regular class) and again in our new location that night at 7pm. And then I get to come back on Friday to teach my regular 5:30pm class. Note I say “I get to teach” — because I don’t look at this as a job at ALL. This is my passion. I am paying forward all that I’ve learned and experienced during my own nearly year-long barre n9ne journey towards perfecting my own practice, with everyone at the studio, and with everyone who will soon become barre n9ne-addicts now that we have another location to spread the love! (side note: expect much more on this soon, big ‘ol launch party this weekend that my sis and I helped to orchestrate!). My sis and I are very much on the same wavelength with this – as many of you probably saw in her post just yesterday.

To instruct (in a style I adore) with intention and passion:
…it’s an honor and a priviledge.

This is just a reminder to me (and to all of you) to never take for granted the blessings in your life, big and small. Never look at any opportunity as anything less than an honor and a priviledge. With that perspective in mind, you’re going to start seeing your life in a whole new light. At least that’s how I’m feeling right now.


26.2: recommitted

Yesterday was the Boston Marathon – an incredible athletic feat that very few ever get to experience with their own two feet. And for me? As a first-time spectator?

I’d describe the day quite simply.

… as the day I recommitted to 26.2.

You see, these past few weeks, of letting my mind get the best of me, of having quite a few OATT outbreaks…I started to question my decision to run Chicago this fall. Seriously.

I wondered if I truly had it in me. I wondered if I truly wanted it. I wondered if it was going to be worth the hours of feet hitting the pavement. Week after week from June – October.

I wondered.

But after seeing this?

(talk about true grit, right near the finish, just powering through the final .2 miles)

And this?

(I think I’d cry at the sheer sight of mile 26…unreal)

Yesterday was the day that I (and we!) recommitted to 26.2.

I can’t wait to cross that finish line, hand-in-hand with my best friend and the love of my life. All with the knowledge that this body was capable of carrying me all 26.2 miles. And that I just did something that very, very few people will ever do in their lifetime

26.2 proud.
That’s my only goal on October 7.
…26.2 proud.

Running, rockstar-style

There’s only one way to describe Saturday’s run: I felt like a rockstar.

Let me set the stage for you:
It was a gorgeous spring morning, cool and calm. Barely a breeze.
I was well-hydrated and very well-rested.
My legs were happy (I think my training schedule is playing out nicely, more on that in a minute).
I was ready to run, mind, body and soul.
…the only thing missing? This guy:

My running partner-in-crime and favorite running “coach” ever? Yeah, he was battling cold #45 of the season (I guess his coworkers were right to warn him that his first year teaching he’d be sick the whole year…they weren’t kidding!). I had to force him not to join me, the stubborn guy that he is. It also forced me to get out of my comfort zone and face down our first longer half marathon training run solo.

For those of you who know me particularly well, you know that I typically don’t love to run alone outside. This was uncharted territory for me.

But oddly enough? I felt really ready for it. I’ve been facing down fears and getting uncomfortable all over the place so far in 2012, why not face down another one with this run? That’s sort of how I tackled it in my mind. I was putting my game face on, a “face” I’m getting more and more comfortable wearing. I’ve decided, I kinda like “her.”

After gearing up in my lightweight running tights (it was about 40 degrees when I left the house), a long sleeve running top and another layer on top of that, I grabbed a package of honey stingers — remembering my promise to all of you last week re: fueling! — and off I went.

I quickly warmed up, got settled at the top of the hill (our “starting point” for basically every run we do) and off I went (no “kiss for luck” kiss…boy did I miss that!). Immediately, I knew this was going to be a good run. My legs were so, so, so happy. I was humming along, my mind going in a million different directions, I was in the zone.

My zone.

I kind of chuckled to myself at how quickly my mind jumped from topic to topic — at one point even thinking to myself that I ought to do these solo runs more often. If only to relieve Scott of my constant “notes to self” style chatter I’m always barraging him with when we run (and basically anytime of day, running or not). He might appreciate the peace and quiet now and then. <grin>

But anyway, I was running along, happy to be tackling the miles — running one of our favorite routes ever. As I ran, I mentally plotted out when I’d take some fuel in. I decided to start fueling at around mile 4, at the top of a sneaky little hill right after a bridge that takes you over the ocean near our house (which looked like glass on Saturday, so calm and peaceful…made me wish I had my phone with me to snap a pic!). And then I’d fuel again after the turnaround (again after a sloping, sneaky hill) and if I needed a third, I’d take one before the last 2 mile out-and-back near our house. At first, I felt kind of silly fueling this way — wondering if I really”needed” the fuel or if it was just a mind game. But, as I neared each of those points on the route, I found that taking in the fuel was helping keep my energy levels consistent and my pace strong and solid. It also made the miles go by faster because I started looking forward to the next honey stinger chew (tasty little suckers!).

Before I knew it — I was into the last mile, a sloping hill down and up before turning around to head back to the house. I was stunned by how great I felt. One of those “I could run for hours” feelings — and I honestly could’ve kept going for another mile or two or three but knew Scott would be waiting and worrying if I didn’t get back to the house (he seriously was by the door when I got home, ready to come out to find me if I didn’t get back soon, he’s so cute…).

I walked into the house, gave him a giant hug and thought to myself:
Rockstar. Yes, indeed.

This run solidified for me that this training plan of mine is working very, very well for me. The two days on, two days off style of running is really giving my legs the time to run and recover in between cycles. High five to me for finding a training cycle I can really get behind – fine lines and all. 😉

This run also reminded me just how much I love, love, love to run — for every challenging run or series of runs, a run like this — a rockstar run — makes it all worth it. Always.