Posts Tagged ‘health’

Twelve 5ks in 2014 – Our Year of Racing

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

“I think exercise tests us in so many ways, our skills, our hearts, our ability to bounce back after setbacks. This is the inner beauty of sports and completion, and it can serve us all well as adult athletes.”

–Peggy Flemming

Early last year Jenny set a lofty goal for herself – she wanted to do twelve 5k races in 2014 (one per month). She kicked off the year colorfully by completing her second Color Run. In February she invited Christina to join her for the 36th Annual Runner’s Den Pancake Run. Always one for a challenge, Christina signed up for a handful of races too. By mid-year they were right on track, having finished half a dozen. Life got in the way for a few months but they dug in and crossed the finish line many times throughout November and December to end the year strong with a big stack of race bibs to prove it!

Below they share their thoughts on racing and chat about what they learned:

First, why? What made you want to race twelve 5ks in 2014?

Jenny: Exercise is always something I have not been good at keeping up with, so I wanted to do something that would keep me consistently working out. I have done a few races over the years, including two half marathons, and I find that my biggest motivator to stay moving is knowing that I have paid money to participate in an event. I am the one that suffers on race day if I don’t keep up with my walks, so the thought of losing money by not doing the race usually trumps my laziness on those days where I debate working out.

Christina: Honestly, at first it was just a way to spend more time with Jenny. But, I quickly discovered that I loved the feeling of crossing that finish line! Signing up for monthly races is also a great motivation for me to work out in between races.

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What was your favorite race and why?

Jenny: My two favorite races were The Color Run and The Hot Chocolate 5K, but they both will be better this year because I didn’t get to participate in them with Christina last year, and I always have more fun when she’s there. Both races are extremely organized, which appeals to the control freak in me, and both have really fun elements (color and dancing or a big mug of chocolate at the finish line).

Christina: That’s a really hard question! I loved them all! If I had to choose I would pick the 4 mile race that Jenny and I did on the 4th of July. It’s my favorite race because it was the hardest race I ran all year. It was terribly humid that day and well over 100 degrees. I woke up grumpy and exhausted. I was having such a terrible morning that I pouted when Jenny wanted me to wear my Sparkle Skirt! You can imagine how well the race went. I was a hot sticky mess the entire time and there were moments during the race where I had tears in my eyes because I was so frustrated and didn’t want to finish. I did finish though (in my Sparkle Skirt) because I refused to quit.

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What have you learned from this challenge?

Jenny: Racing has taught me to be more independent. Now, I don’t mean doing the races, as I love racing with Christina, but we often don’t actually race together. We will both go our own pace, push ourselves to do the best we can, and enjoy our time together before and after the race. We even have an unspoken agreement that whoever finishes first will be waiting at the finish line with a bottle of water for the other girl. Other than race day, I am on my own when it comes to keeping up with my routine, and have become comfortable with it, and making myself accountable for my workouts.

Christina: I’ve learned a ton. The biggest lesson so far? Squash the negative thoughts you have about yourself. In my opinion it’s the most self-destructive thing you can do. One of the things I love the most about running is all of the time you have to think. When I first started the challenge, there was definitely more walking and muscle cramps then running. I would hobble along beating myself up every step of the way – despite the fact that I pushed through the discomfort to finish each and every race! One day “Titanium” by David Guetta came on while I was running and with every verse I felt more and more powerful. I sang the chorus out loud and it was as if I was singing to myself – you shoot me down but I won’t fall I am titanium cut me down but it’s you who’ll have further to fall…raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones I’m talking loud not saying much…I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose fire away, fire away. I listen to that song on every run and it makes run faster. I am titanium. We can’t control what other people think or say about us. But, we are in FULL control of what we choose to say and think about ourselves. That’s real power.

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What are your racing plans for the future? Are you going to try for twelve 5ks in 2015?

Jenny: I will definitely be knocking out at least a dozen races in 2015! I am going to copy Christina in adding some longer races to my repertoire though (I have signed up for a 8K and 9K this Spring and a 15K in December). Christina and I are also planning on taking part in the Star Wars Half Marathon next January in Disneyland. That long-term goal will help me to stay motivated all year. Due to medical reasons, I was not allowed to run in 2014, but with those restrictions now lifted, I am looking forward to training to actually run my first 5K. It will be challenging, but I am excited to be “lightning on my feet,” like Taylor Swift.

Christina: I plan to keep running! I don’t have any major plans I just know I want to run a bit faster and a bit further. I absolutely want to run twelve 5ks in 2015! I also want to do a few 10k races too. I ran the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k in January and it confirmed that 10ks are a good next step in my running journey. Once I have a few 10ks under my belt the next big step will be to register for my first half-marathon. Eek!

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Do you have any tips for new walkers/runners?

Jenny: I would say to be patient with yourself (and I will have to do that this year myself in working towards my running goals), and only compete with yourself. I have a friend, Matt, who has been running for years and if I compared my pace and progress to where he is, I would give up and never race again. Everyone who is a runner had to start somewhere, and those successful successful people you know who are successful all do the same thing – they run on a regular basis and they push themselves to always do a little better than they did before. So, on day one1, you may pace at a less than desirable (to you) rate, but each time you go out, push yourself to run a little further or up your pace a little. Your time reduction will be slow to start, but before you know it, you will be able to drive that time down and you will be amazed at what you did. Also, everyone has occasional bad days. Don’t let them get you down, and just get out there again and push it!

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I also want to note that if you aren’t a runner, or you don’t like running, walk! I have never run a race, including either of my half marathons. I know it’s intimidating when you go to the racing sites because of course, all the pictures are going to be people running. Don’t let that stop you from participating. In almost every race I have ever done, most of the people in it are walking at some point. Don’t be embarrassed if you are a walker. Be proud that you went out there and raced!

Christina: Yes – but I will warn you all of my tips are very basic! 1. First, invest in the right gear. Don’t go out and spend a ton of money! It will take you some time to figure out what you like. Start with running socks and a good pair of shoes, a supportive sports bra, a top made from wicking fabric and something to hold your phone/iPod. Second,2. Y you have to run a lot. It sounds so simple but most people (including me) think you can head out on day #1 and run comfortably. The truth is – at first it’s going to suck a little, you’ll be slow, you’ll be sore and you might not be able to go very far. Just know that each day will be a little easier then the last. The more you run, the more you’ll be able to run. Don’t be hard on yourself…just keep running. Finally,3. R remember to enjoy the journey! Don’t get me wrong, most days I have to push myself…really hard. But, I’m a big fan of fun too. I run in tutus, silly hats and covered in color. I pump my arms and sing out loud when an awesome song comes on during a run. Why not? Life isn’t always be about how quickly you reach the finish line, sometimes it’s about how much fun you had (and how good you looked) getting there.

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Ready to sign-up for a race? Check out these blog posts:

Green Beer, Wet Chalk and Raving: 5K Fun Runs
Fuel Your Fire: Coconut Almond Energy Bars
Racing in the Smartphone Age
You CAN Race a Half Marathon

Want to join us? Hashtag your 2015 race photos with #twelve5ksin2015 or #thewildernessgirls. We can’t wait to see your pics!

  

Organize It: Medicine Cabinet Must-Haves

Monday, February 24th, 2014

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I have been extremely klutzy in the kitchen lately. Bryan hears me exclaim at least once a week “B! It happened again! Get Band-Aids!” Last week I made a doozy of a cut in my index finger, and made a mad dash for the medicine cabinet for a Band-Aid. What I found was a messy jumble of bottles and boxes (some empty and expired) and no Band-Aids. I am guessing I am not alone in this state of medicine cabinet disarray.

I decided to revamp my medicine cabinet, get rid of the emptied and expired meds, inventory what was left, and replenish what was missing. But what should a medicine cabinet have on a basic level?

Below is your very own list of must-have medicine cabinet items:

* Aspirin/Ibuprofen
* Decongestant
* Cough Medicine (Get both a suppressant and an expectorant.)
* Digestive Medicine (i.e. Tums, Maalox, Prilosec)
* Calamine Lotion or Antihistamine Cream
* Box of Assorted Band-Aids
* Medical Tape
* Hydrogen Peroxide or Antibiotic Ointment
* Thermometer
* Magnifying Glass and Tweezers
* Dental Painkiller (i.e. Anbesol or Orajel)

You can supplement the above items with things that are specific to you and your family. Have allergies? Add your favorite over-the-counter allergy med to the list. Have glasses? Get a glasses repair kit.

If you are like me and don’t have a traditional “medicine cabinet,” buy some of the small bins that they carry at Target, organize your boxes and bottles in them, and then put them in a cabinet or drawer.

Make sure you are reviewing your expire dates at least twice a year (make it part of your routine cleaning plan) and purging and replacing anything that is expired. If you find you run out of something, add it to your grocery list when you notice it. I have a running list that I keep in a drawer in the kitchen so that I can add things I run out of as I notice them.

Now all I need is a cooking class on knife skills.

Healthfully Surviving Holiday Parties

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

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I love holiday parties — getting together with friends to laugh and relax through the stress of the season. But how do you navigate the spread of appetizers and cocktails and make healthy choices? As I said in my previous article on healthy holiday tips, I don’t think avoiding every calorie-laden goodie is a successful method of getting through the season. It’s all about making smart choices in both your food and spirit selections.

Here are my quick tips for eating at a holiday/cocktail party:

* If possible, eat beforehand. Stick with something like a basic salad with a lean protein. It will fill you up, but not so much that you can’t still enjoy an appetizer or two.
* If you can’t eat beforehand, load up on vegetables or salad and eat smaller portions of the cheeses, meats and carbs.
* Socialize! You will find that if you talk more, you will eat more slowly. When you eat slowly, you are more aware of when you are full, and will not eat as much.
* Pace yourself. Start with small portions and get more if you are still hungry. We all tend to clear our plate, so the more you get initially, the more you will eat.
* Don’t beat yourself up. Food is supposed to be enjoyable, so don’t berate yourself if you splurge and ignore all the rules above. Just make sure to balance out that evening with healthier meals during the week.

Now that we have covered food, let’s move on to spirits. In investigating tips on better booze/mixer combos to drink, I stumbled upon a great WebMD article with great tips on partying responsibly. Here is a summary of those:

* Alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to save calories. (This will also help you to eat less, as if you are anything like me, the more you drink, the less reserved you are about what you are eating.)
* Choose wine, light beer, or simple cocktails made with low-calorie mixers.
* Skip the mixer altogether.
* Dilute your drink.
* Have a game plan. Decide beforehand how many cocktails you are going to drink, don’t drink on an empty stomach, and know your limits.
* Don’t drink and drive. If you have had too much, have a friend take you home, or call a cab.

The key to healthy eating is planning. So, before you head to that party, know your limits (both in food and drink), and enjoy! The real fun of a party is the stories you tell, and the experiences with your friends and family.

Cheers to all of you for a healthy, safe and happy holiday season! (And again, do not drink and drive!)

What are your tips for getting through parties while staying healthy? Leave them in the comments below.

Healthfully Surviving the Holidays

Monday, November 4th, 2013

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One of the biggest challenges is getting through the holidays healthfully. I am not a proponent of cutting out all splurging between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, as I don’t think it’s realistic to do. Any time I have tried, about one week in, I give up, and then go overboard in consuming as many cookies as I can get my hands on.

There are so many options around the holidays between dinners, parties, seasonal lattes, cocktails, and the dozens of cookies, cakes and other baked goods that people bring into the workplace.

The key to successfully navigating through it all is making smart choices.

Here are my tips for keeping a healthy balance during the holidays:

Start each day with a healthy, protein-based breakfast.
Most of the goodies around the holidays are carb-based, so by eating something like a spinach and egg-white omelet in the morning, you are getting in the protein that you need to fill you up and energize you for the day. I am also a fan of Christina’s Berry Yogurt Breakfast Smoothie.

Limit the amount of parties and events that you go to.
Keeping your schedule under control will not only keep you away from overindulging too often, but it will also provide you with much needed down time. Give yourself some time to be home, relax, and watch your favorite holiday movie, taking a little break from the craziness.

Treat yo’self, but plan it.
When faced with those tempting cookies in the office, think about what other plans you have for the week. Is there another night where you are going to a cocktail party with amazing appetizers? Or a day you are going to brunch with friends and getting gingerbread pancakes that make your eyes roll back? It makes it easier to skip the so-so cookie when you know you have a better treat coming to you later in the week.

Lighten or limit the lattes.
Have a holiday latte you like? Get it with skim or soy milk, or get it less frequently. I often find that the holiday lattes end up making me feel groggy anyway, so normally I get my favorite once during the season, so that I feel like I got my fix. So don’t deprive yourself but find ways to space them out, or make them healthier (many are available as sugar-free now).

Eat at home when you can.
Plan your meals for the week and do all your grocery shopping in one trip. Make sure to load up on lean protein and veggies. Ever feel hungry beyond belief after overdoing it on cookies? It’s because your body is hungry for the nutrients it needs. Cooking at home and focusing on the food groups you are missing will help keep you full and your body happy. Sites like Skinnytaste have lighter versions of higher-calorie items, so you can still get all the flavor, while keeping it healthy.

Stick to the basics.
Drink plenty of water, rest when you can, and maintain some semblance of an exercise routine. The holidays are a busy time, and the more run down and dehydrated you get, the worse you feel. There is a reason every nutrition plan includes this trifecta – because they work. So, remember to keep them as part of your routine all year round.

“But what about parties? How do I survive those?” Keep an eye out for an upcoming post where I will give you some quick tips on holiday parties.

What tips do you have that help you to splurge responsibly during the holidays? Share them in the comments below.