Tag Archives: Advice

A Letter to My Younger Self

To My Younger Me,

First off, let me reiterate how incredibly strong, intelligent, and capable you are because I know you have a tendency to doubt yourself. I know you hate change, but I want you to embrace each obstacle that life throws in your way. You can handle it, and you can handle it with grace.

Don’t sell yourself short, and hold tight to a sense of optimism about the world. Learn to forgive people for their shortcomings, and remember that you aren’t perfect either. Embrace your enemies and those who try to bring you down–love is a stronger weapon. Find beautiful qualities in everyone and everything that you come across because beauty is all around you.

Never stop learning. Open your mind to new ideas and hold tight to your passion for knowledge. Don’t half-ass school. You are smart and capable of achieving your goals, so set them higher than you think is possible. They are within your reach. Be patient with yourself. You will get where you want to go if you persevere.

Stop comparing yourself to other girls. You are beautiful, loving, and kind. Besides, confidence is the sexiest quality–so show it off. Stop dating guys because they play in a band or have spiky hair. If they can’t hold a job and don’t treat you with respect, they aren’t worth your time.

Surround yourself with people who love you for everything you are–the ones that take the good with the bad. Remember that your family will always be there, and make sure you return the favor. Show compassion to those who need it most.

Always follow your heart. You will be pulled in a million directions at once, but listen to your gut. Don’t be afraid to take risks or  rise to a challenge. These will build your character and self-esteem. You will be better, even if you fail. Don’t get discouraged.

Lastly, believe enough in yourself to go after what you want. No one will do it for you. If you want something bad enough, make it happen. There is always a way.

Your future you,
Me 

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Have any of you ever written one of these before? 

Getting Out of My Own Way

Source: Cathy on Pinterest

I have not always been a confident individual. For a long time, I wouldn’t even bother to set goals for myself. In my mind, I wasn’t an athlete, so I didn’t try out for a single high school sport. I didn’t consider myself capable of being a straight-A student, which allowed me to excuse the occasional bad grade. I knew I was a good person, and I never got into any trouble. I just had no desire to push myself outside of my comfort zone. When I looked in the mirror, I saw an average girl and I never once tried to prove myself wrong.

When it came to running, I utterly refused to believe I could last a single mile — let alone more than one! I saw runners as strong, powerful, and somehow above me. I looked up to them, and to me they were people who were able to push themselves to limits that I could only dream of. My freshman year of high school, I actually yelled at my gym teacher when he got frustrated that I was walking the last lap of the required mile run. I made some excuse about how I was hurt, but I’m sure he knew I was full of crap. I was a relatively quiet girl, and that was the only time I ever talked back to a teacher. But I had predetermined what I was capable of doing, and what I was not capable of doing. In my mind, there was no point in setting myself up for failure.

I don’t know what changed, exactly. Part of me seemed to get tired of watching everyone around me achieve greatness, while I stood on the sidelines. My husband, Nick, helped push me for the first time in my life. He saw potential in me that I wasn’t aware of. The first time we went running together, he took me on a mile jog. I felt like I was going to die by the end of it, but he didn’t let me quit. Instead, he had me sprinting the last stretch! At the time, I wanted to kick him in the shin — not literally of course! I was exhausted and angry that he didn’t let me rest. Looking back, I can now see that it was the best thing anyone has ever done for me. He didn’t let me give up, and I haven’t wanted to give up since.

It seems the biggest obstacles that we all have to overcome lie within ourselves. We have to stop letting our negative thoughts and self-image get in the way of what we want out of life. You have to believe in yourself enough to set goals for your life — even if they’re small ones, and find a way to make it happen. Don’t expect success to arrive overnight, or without any hard work. It might take a lot of your time, energy, and determination. You might feel like you want to quit. Don’t do it! Keep it moving, keep putting one foot in front of the other and push through the wall. Prove to yourself that you are capable of doing what you set your mind to, and it will propel you in whatever you choose to accomplish next.

Okay, I will now step off my soapbox. 

Anyone ever have a similar experience?
What walls have you had to push through?
What are some goals you hope to accomplish?

 

Realistic Running: Being Mindful of Where You Are

As a woman relatively new to running, I often find myself comparing my progress to others. I see other people flying down the road with ease, and the voice in my head tells me I should be able to run faster, go longer, and tackle serious mileage each week. When my legs get tired or I’m out of breath, I get frustrated because I expect my body to be able to do exactly what I want it to do. The problem is, I think my body is smarter than I am. When I increase my mileage too quickly, and my legs are aching and flimsy, my body is telling me to slow it down (and/or do more strength training). I need to be able to recognize the difference between when I need to push through, and when I seriously need to pull back.

This is especially true for my half-marathon training plan. I ended up changing to a new one because the original one increased my mileage too quickly. While it would have been perfect for me this past summer when I was running 6 miles at a clip, I had to admit to myself that I was biting off too much at once. After taking a couple months off this fall, I needed a plan to go off of that eased back into the heavier mileage totals. This is one that I switched to:

My New Half-Marathon Training Program

This is actually a training plan a friend recommended I look into, and I feel it is a better fit for me. Unlike my previous program, the Prevea schedule is a little longer and more gradual in terms of mileage increases. I believe it was actually developed for people planning to race in the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon this May. They have other schedules to refer to if you’re interested, and can be found on the race’s website.

What I’ve found since starting to train for the half-marathon is that many of these training programs claim to be designed for “beginners,” but then have you running a 5 mile day the first week. I believe the term “beginner” is completely relative. You might be a beginner in terms of never having raced before, but still able to run an 8-minute mile without breaking a sweat. Or you may be a beginner who has never broken into a jog a day in your life. Either way, you need to find a program that fits your fitness level. In my case, I wasn’t new to running, but I hadn’t ran more than 3 miles consistently in the last 3-4 months.

If you’re starting a program, don’t just pick a program and go with it. Take into serious consideration your goals, and be realistic. Also, be willing to stray from the program or modify it to fit your needs. There might be a day when running 10 miles just isn’t going to happen. Maybe your body needs to rest. Maybe you’re just not into it that day. If you can’t make the full 10, split up your run by doing 5 in the morning and 5 later in the day. Just give it your best, but remember that your best will change from day to day.

Be mindful of where you are in your training, listen to your body, and make adjustments accordingly. Know when to push yourself harder, and when to ease up. Find a balance.

Have you used a training schedule to prepare for a race or goal? Did you have to make adjustments to your training? I’d love to hear from you!

Eat, Pray, Run

Run Like the Wind

Run Like the Wind

I have always hated running.  In high school, I yelled at my gym teacher during the dreaded (and mandatory) one-mile run – the one and only time I got in trouble in school.  I love the idea of being a runner.  I love the freedom running gives you and the sense of accomplishment at the end of a workout.  Still, I could never get over the feeling of not being able to breathe.  I was never comfortable with that initial lack of oxygen that kicked in after I ran a block or two.  Nevertheless, I have been determined to become a runner and hell I’m still stubborn enough to hold myself to that goal.

I recently began running on the treadmill at school (not the same as being outside – but it’s a freakin arctic tundra out there!).  I decided to hold off setting any mileage goals because I was completely unaware of my own capability.  Instead, I told myself I was going to go for at least 20 minutes regardless of the distance or the pace.

I made it about 2 miles in 20 minutes, which isn’t very fast and not a record breaking distance.  What-ev! I still was proud that I got myself to do it anways!  I’ve been averaging about the same time this whole week.  I’m hoping to push myself farther and faster next week.  I don’t feel physically dead by the end of the 2 miles, but mentally I can’t seem to convince myself that I’m able to go father.

Once I go as long as I can with the running, I switch to the recumbant bike and ride that for about 20 minutes at a medium level.

I feel much more comfortable being out of breath than I did in the past.  I attribute this to my P90x exercises and plan on to still keep those videos in my workout rotation.  My legs are much stronger from doing the program before and it seems to have kept them from aching while I run.

My goal?  To run a 5-K by this summer.  I know physically I’m totally capable.  I could probably do it now, although I wouldn’t be nearly fast enough.  So I have plenty of time to train and get myself prepared mentally and physicaly.

Why am I so determined to run?

1. To prove to myself that I can.

Born to Run

Born to Run

2. I saw this book called, Born to Run which is about a man’s quest to find the world’s “superathletes” which leads him to a tribe which runs for miles upon miles in the mountains…barefoot.

3. Runner’s World Magazine – just reading it makes me want to push myself harder.  Hearing other people’s stories lights a fire under my butt.

4. My husband – he has always told me I have the build for running and is always supportive.

5. Food - I like to eat and running is a great way to burn off those extra calories that comes along with a passion for food.

For anyone who is also interested in running, there are some great sites that can help you get started – as well as some amazing tools to keep you on track!

Map My Run – this website is great if you want to plan a run through your community.  Other runners map out their favorite runs that you can use or you can map out your own favorite spots!  Tells you how far you’ll end up going, etc.

Cool Running – fantastic site with lots of helpful tips and plans to get you from your couch to running a 5-K in no time. Tons of helpful info including gear, safety, nutrition, injury prevention and training plans. Even great for experienced runners and marathoners.

Run the Planet – another great website for finding routes, proper shoes, upcoming races and much, much more.

No Room at the Gym: when resolutionaries take over your gym space

Overcrowded Gym

Overcrowded Gym

I’ve heard a lot of people complaining that they are avoiding their gyms like the plague.  Why?  Because they have been usurped by an overwhelming number of people who are working out as a part of their New Years resolutions.  I can’t blame them for not wanting to cram themselves into their gyms.  I hate going when there are a lot of people there and you have to wait for machines.  That’s why I just avoid the gym all together and workout in my home.

But, if you still want to hold on to that gym membership, but need a way to get your workout in without clawing your way to the elliptical – this is for you.

First, try going during the weekday or weekend evenings.  These are the time frames where you’ll find the least amount of people.  If you have a membership to a 24 hour gym, you can go late into the evening on weekdays as well.  This isn’t necessarily convenient, but keep in mind it is only temporary.  The mad rush will die down or smooth itself out.

Second, try taking a fitness class at your gym (or even a different gym).  They’re fun and still allow you to get in your calorie burn.  Plus, this allows you to get out of a workout rut and try something new that you may end up enjoying!  If you’re nervous to show up to a class solo -invite a friend to join you!  Otherwise, don’t sweat it too much because everyone is there just to get in shape and have a good time.

Finally, if all else fails buy a couple of workout dvds, go for a run, par-take in a winter activity like snowshoeing or take a yoga class at a private studio.  There are many options to get you in shape without even stepping into a gym.  YouTube even has workout videos if you don’t feel like paying money for a dvd.

You just have to make it work!

P.S. Also, don’t forget to not look on the new gym goers in a negative light.  Sure you have to wait for the treadmill, but they are probably in need of support and a good gym buddy!  So if you see someone at your gym who looks like they don’t know what they are doing, give them a hand and help them succeed with their fitness goals too!

See below for a sample workout from YouTube and links to more info!

http://www.abc27.com/Global/story.asp?S=13775178

How to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

New Year's Resolutions

Every year you say to yourself, “This will be the year!” and then…it isn’t.  Why? Probably various reasons.  If you’re like me, you’re really good at talking yourself out of things and making excuses.

That being said!  If you’re dedicated to making a change in your life, be it exercising, eating right or whatever else, you need to have some tools and the right mind set if you’re going to get off the starting block.

Here it goes…

1) Keep your goals reasonable. Don’t start off saying, “I will never eat dessert EVER again” or “I will exercise for one hour EVERY single day without fail”.   While these are great goals, they aren’t necessarily realistic.  There may be days where you can’t fit in your hour long exercise or you fall off the wagon and eat a scoop of ice cream.  You’re ultimately setting yourself up to fail because you’re not being realistic.  Not to mention you might just get burnt out on the rigidness of your plan.

2) Be flexible with your aspirations. Give yourself some wiggle room (not too much though!).  If you want to start exercising, commit to incorporate so many hours of exercise in per week.  This allows for some flexibility and if you can’t fit in an hour one day, you can do a little more the next day or just push yourself harder.  If you’re dieting, don’t swear off dessert entirely, but maybe say you’ll only treat yourself once a week to a scoop of ice cream or make healthier dessert choices.

3) Understand that you are in control of the choices YOU make. With any commitment, you will find yourself being tempted to go off your track.  Be aware that this will happen BEFORE you start.  Don’t just assume that this will be easy.  You are going to crave foods you shouldn’t eat.  You are going to want to sleep in and skip your workout.  Prepare for these in advance.  Have healthy choices in the house.  Throw yourself out of bed regardless of how tired your are.  Recognize you have choices in front of you and you can decide what you’re going to do.  Each one will have a consequence.  If you lay in bed, you will get sleep, but you won’t get in shape.  If you eat that double quarter pounder you will be full, but your body will not like you for it.  You are in control.

4) Surround yourself with positive people. You’re going to need people in your life who support you and will be there for you when you need them.  This doesn’t mean you have to completely ditch those who just aren’t fitting in with your life, but be aware that people can be noxious.  These are the people that make you feel completely drained just by talking to them, they bring you down.  They are not the type of people you’ll want to listen to if you’re sincerely committed to your goals and aspirations.

Instead, find people who will be honest and supportive.  Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers or whoever you know will be there for you when you need them.

5) Learn to brush yourself off. If you fall off or lose sight of your goals, get back up and try again!  This does not mean you failed.  This means you get another go around.  Keep sight of the light at the end of the tunnel and remember all the reasons you made the commitment in the first place.  Do NOT punish yourself.  This is not productive.  Do NOT beat yourself up.  Just admit that you went off track and find the reason for it.  Maybe the snacks in your pantry were too tempting, so get rid of those snacks and replace them with healthy options.  Then try AGAIN!

The bottom line is that we all have goals in our life or things we aspire to achieve. They are not easily obtained, but the things we want in life are never necessarily easy.  Anything worth having is worth striving for.  Go into this with a positive attitude and with positive people.  Acknowledge there will be difficulties and keep going!

What’s Your Beef? A Look Into the Grass Fed Debate.

Grass Fed Beef AdRecently, I did a research paper on the feed lot cattle industry. What spurred my interest was an important movie called Food, Inc. which, for those of you who haven’t seen it, will make anyone question where their food comes from. They dive into more than just the treatment of the animals and find out the overall effects of this type of agriculture (if one can call it that).  I can assure you that this is not an exaggerated issue. I personally have traveled through parts of the state of Wyoming and Nebraska in which the smell from these feedlots is so overwhelmingly intense it makes me nauseous just thinking about it. All I kept thinking while driving past the feedlots was, “That place is so disgusting and we actually eat what they grow, that can’t be good for us”.  And it isn’t.

It all boils down to what the cows are fed.  These days, cows are fed corn, hormones and remains of other cattle.  Why? Because they get fat, fast.  According to Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore’s Dillema, cows 50 years ago took four or five years before they were big enough to slaughter.  Today, we see them growing at enormous rates.  A steer will go from 80 pounds to 1,100 pounds in 14 months. Plus, corn is a cheap feed as is the remains of their fellow species.  In other words, the cattle industry makes a much higher profit at a faster rate.

What you end up with is a cow who is suffering from anything from bloat to acidosis.  Their stomachs are becoming more acidic due to the starchy corn feed.  What happens then is the bacteria in their stomach becomes acid resistant.  So when we eventually eat this cow’s meat, the bacteria that would normally be killed off by our own stomach acids isn’t killed at all.  Hence the E-Coli outbreaks we’ve all heard about.  This spreads very easily when you consider the living conditions of these animals.  Typically, they are overcrowded facilities in which the animals are standing ankle deep in feces.  Yeah…not pretty.

Feeding cows the remains of other cows also yields a problem.  This is helps to spread that lovely little disease known as Mad Cow Disease or Encephalopathy.  The USDA knows of these practices, but has yet to put a strict ban on them.

Feedlot

There is a solution to these issues.  Grass feeding cattle.  It is practical and natural and will reduce the sicknesses in animals by up to 80%.  Cows would no longer be eating corn which causes the acid resistance.  Therefore, E-Coli would be significantly reduced and the need to pump antibiotics in these animals would be eliminated.  Plus, they wouldn’t eat the remains of other cows so the spread of Mad Cow Disease would also be eradicated.  Seems like a fantastic solution to me!

However, the USDA has deemed it unfeasible.  Why? Grass is a renewable resource.  It’s easy to grow.  You can reduce any harm on the environment with cattle rotation (which simulates the way Bison would have roamed years ago). The meat is higher in Omega-3 fats and is more lean than corn fed beef.  Seems feasible to me.

If you want to find grass fed beef in your area, I highly recommend it.  Make sure you read the labels carefully.  You can contact local farmers directly or visit your local farmers market or natural food store.  It may be more expensive, but it tastes good and you’re not filling your body with unhealthy fats, antibiotics and potentially dangerous viruses.
I am posting my full paper online, for more sources check out Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen and Food Matters by Mark Bittman.