Monday, December 31, 2012

Set a Small Resolution

It's December 31, and the New Year is upon us!  What big plans do you have for 2013?

I've got some big plans and SMART goals, but I'll be tackling those on a monthly basis, so my focus is honed and strong.  But are you setting year-long resolutions?  If so, I dare you to make them small

Cookies for tonight!
First of all, keep up your existing goals!  The new year is an arbitrary day to begin, but it does feel like a fresh start, so we like to put all this weight on the new day and the new year.  There's nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't ever not set or fulfill a goal just because it isn't a new year or a Monday.  

For year-long resolutions, I think small is the way to go.  Keep it simple!  I think of resolutions less as a big goal to be "attained" and more of a vow to improve something about yourself or your habits.

Last year, I resolved to make my bed every morning. Done.

This year, I'm setting some similarly small resolutions.  One is to quit chewing gum.  I'll get into the why and how of it in a later post, but I think it's a smart, simple resolution that, given a year, I should be able to achieve.  I'm not quitting cold turkey, but I'll limit the amount I can have each week until I no longer need it at all. (This also isn't to say I'll never ever chew it again, but I'd like to kick the habit; I really have too much.)

Another small resolution I'm making is to do a pull-up.  That's it--just one.  If I end up doing more, great! If it's just the one, that's fine, too. It was at CrossFit in November that I discovered I couldn't do one without a band for assistance, so I hope to work my way up to pulling up my body weight and lowering it back down.  (I may also need gloves, because bar days always destroyed my hands!)  I admit, this is more of a "goal", but I resolve to actively work toward it.

What small resolutions are you making for the new year?

As I've mentioned, I also have several goals for 2013, but I'll tackle those with you each month.  Setting monthly goals keeps me focused and facilitates my success, and I've got a friend who is doing the same, so we'll keep each other on target, one focus at a time!  I don't know about you, but I can't take on too much at once, or nothing will get done!  Pick a few goals/resolutions and give them your full attention. 

 Do you agree? What works best for you?

 All the best to you and yours for a Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Look Back on 2012

Just as important as setting goals is tracking progress.

My 2012 Resolutions were...
  • Make my bed each morning: CHECK! Easy.
  • Stretch each night before bed: CHECK! I like this. It's one step that tells me, "Okay, it's time to relax and sleep."
  • Eat 6-8 servings of fruits & vegetables daily: .... Half credit?  This started out pretty well, probably through about August or so.  But then life got busy and crazy, and some weeks I got PLENTY of vegetables, but other weeks I did not.  It simply wasn't my focus of attention. 

  • Sleep 7-9 hours each night: CHECK! 
  • Drink water: CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!
  • Run 3 times per week: I'll give myself a CHECK here.  This was going strong up until the past month or so.  Between work and finals and the holidays and the cold, rainy weather, I've not been running 3x/week, although I have gotten at least once a week.
    • Run 600 miles in 2012  DailyMile Challenge: NOT accomplished.  Note, I'm not saying I failed, because I did my best and can still honestly say that I'm proud of myself.  I ran a lot last winter, but, early on, realized that 600 miles--50 miles per month--was unattainable for me based on my fitness goals (which go beyond just running) and my schedule.  So I didn't reach the arbitrary goal (a challenge extended by someone else) of 600 miles, but I did run more than half of that.  I ran 350 miles!  For me, a girl who, not so long ago, could hardly run a mile, 350 miles (including two 5ks and a nonstop 3-miles) is a victory to be celebrated. 

  • Reduce added sugar intake, dairy consumption: CHECK.  This isn't a perfect 100% removed, but that wasn't the goal.  I've definitely reduced consumption of these two.  Although I didn't know it when I set this goal, I'd be overhauling my entire diet in 2012.  It began with my month-long paleo experiment and continued onward and upward, as I incorporated paleo principles into my everyday life.  For more information on paleo, click here.  
    • I certainly reduced my dairy consumption.  I was already rarely having milk, but I used to have cheese every day. Now, cheese is a treat that I have on occasion.  My only regular intake of dairy consists of Greek yogurt and grass-fed butter.  That sounds A-okay to me! 
    • As for added sugar, I know I reduced it based on the (mostly) elimination of processed/packaged foods from my diet.  The sugars that were hidden in snacks, breads, etc.,--those are all gone.  My main battle with added sugar still remains in the form of chocolates and sweets. My sweet tooth has taken over in the past couple months, as my "I deserve it!" after a stressful day. This still leaves room for improvement in the coming year.

  • Eat meals sitting at a table: 95% Check.  I do this most of the time.  Even breakfast, which I used to grab and go or eat while getting ready, I've taken the time to sit down and enjoy in the morning.  I say 95%, though, because there have been times where I ate standing up or while on the move.  Just bein' honest! 
  • Clean, organize, scrapbook: CHECK!  I've cleaned, tossed, donated, organized, MOVED, and so on.  However, that's always a work in progress, and is ALWAYS on my list of things to do.  Things pile up, and require a clean-out again. As for organizing and compiling my photos, I have made progress on this, and am happy :)  It's always good to include something on your list that you ENJOY, not just that you think you should do. 

I set a LOT of goals, and not all were fully accomplished. Some were consciously abandoned (by the summer, I knew that 600 miles in this one year would be unreachable for me), while others were simply forgotten (vegetable servings).  Am I thrilled about this?  No.  But will I dwell on it or feel like a failure? Absolutely not!  I had plenty of accomplishments this year, tried SO MANY NEW THINGS, and so I can look back on these with satisfaction.  I'm glad I set high goals for myself, but I recognize that sometimes changes are necessary, and I'm okay with that. I'll simply do even better in 2013!

This year, I'm going to set a monthly focus rather than a year-long vow.  I may still make a couple year-long resolutions, but I'd like to work on my self-improvement on a monthly basis, so it's more tangible and doable.  Overall, the aim will be to be my greatist self!

So what will these new resolutions be?  Come back in the new year to find out!

How did you do on your 2012 Resolutions?  What goals or achievements have you accomplished in the past year?  Go ahead and BRAG! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Have a Happy Holiday!

Just writing to wish you and your family a warm and happy holiday season.  Whatever you celebrate, make the most of it and spend it with those you love, doing things you enjoy.

I don't have much else to say, so I'll share a few happy holiday posts from others:

     Follow these Christmas Care Instructions from Melissa Joulwan.

     Get your holiday giggles from Courtney.

     Jenn shares a scene from the best holiday movie.  SMILE!

So relax! Enjoy! Keep calm and...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dance!

Jabbawockeez is a hip-hop dance crew that made it big after winning America's Best Dance Crew's first season.  They're an international sensation, celebrated for their innovative choreography and engaging performances.  Now, not only do they showcase their own talents on video, but they use their knowledge to help get you on your feet, dancing just like them:



Well, maybe not exactly like that, but you get the idea.  So if you're ready to work on your hip-hop skills, Jabbawockeez is coming to a living room near you!


In their "School of Dance" instructional dance and fitness DVD program, the dance team members give step-by-step lessons that create some really impressive dance combinations.  Through learning the moves, you also get lessons in...
(1) Coordination & Balance
(2) Syncopation & Timing
(3) Musicality & Rhythm
(4) Groove
(5) Flow

... all while working up a sweat, of course!



The First DVD, "Top Rocks," really eases you in.  If you're a beginner, no need to fear!  The pace was almost too slow for my taste, but, then again, I'm no hip hop dancer and certainly benefited from the instructional pace.  From there, you learn and improve, working your way up through the lessons as you grow as a dancer!

Each DVD not only has the hour-long Dance Breakdown itself (instruction), but also other 10-minute lesson features, plus a video of the entire Jabbawockeez crew performing the dance to music.  Seeing them do it is pretty amazing; there's a reason they won America's Best Dance Crew!!

The one thing I wish the instructional portions had was music.  Back when I took dance classes, I could always learn the combinations by matching each move to a lyric or portion of the song.  Learning the dance moves without music to start was a bit frustrating for me, but the incorporation of a steady beat later on helped a bit.

If you're looking to learn to dance, to impress your friends at a party, to get your body moving, or to improve your coordination, posture, and balance, this is a great program to follow!  With five DVDs, there's plenty of variety and you're sure not to get bored.  Who doesn't love to dance?  (If your answer is no, then you know what I'm saying next -- TRY IT!  I dare you.)

Click here to learn more about Jabbawockeez!

Whether you follow along with the DVD, hit up a dance club with your friends, or blast the music in your bedroom for a solo dance party, I dare you to DANCE! 

Do you enjoy dancing? Have you ever tried hip-hop?
What types of at-home DVDs do you like the most?

Disclaimer: I was sent the Jabbawockeez DVDs free of charge, but the opinions expressed above are all my own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bulu Box

Whether you're looking to sleep better, energize, lose weight, gain endurance, or build muscle, there are supplements out there that claim they can help.  Maybe you're interested, but don't want to purchase a whole package without knowing whether the product is actually effective.  This is where Bulu Box comes in.

Bulu Box is a subscription service that provides you with a box filled with 4 to 5 nutritional supplements from top brands.  Each month, a new box is delivered with a new variety of vitamins, supplements, sports nutrition, meal replacements, digestion aids, natural remedies, herbs, and beyond.  When the company offered to share a sample box with me, I agreed, always ready to try something (or in this case, many things!) new.  


When the box arrived, it was basically I expected in terms of the sample sizes.  There were a number of items inside, all in a trial size or containing single-package. Just enough to try out the item to see if it meets your needs and helps you achieve your goals.  The mix was a nice combination; seemed like there would be something for everyone, although a single person might not necessarily want to use them all.  I suppose that's how these boxes work! 


These Neuro Edge powders sounded interesting.  They're meant for mental focus, so I tucked them away for when I do work.  However, I've forgotten about them and have yet to actually try it out. Whoops! I was never one for this type of supplement, but we'll see.


There's also Raspberry Ketones, which are very popular for weight loss; they flew off the shelves when Dr. Oz recommended them for fat burning.  From my little research, they seem harmless (unless you're diabetic or have high blood pressure--consult your doctor!), even if not helpful, so I added them to my vitamin regimen but haven't noticed changes in my appetite, though I didn't take them routinely, twice a day as prescribed.


I have noticed changes in my body, but I think that's more due to CrossFit and cleaning up my daily eats. My guess: These (like many other supplements) could be a useful aid for fat loss, in the presence of changes in diet composition and exercise routine.

Next up, a few fitness aids.


Hawaiian Coconut Energy: These instant drink packets basically turn water into coconut water... like magic!  Tasted like regular coconut water, and did, in fact, wake me up for the workout I was off to do.  This could have been from the coconut part, or could have simply been the hefty glass of water. Either way, it tasted alright.  Instant coconut water.

There was also an Octane endurance drink supplement that I didn't use, because I don't really participate in endurance athletic events. 

This ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe was interesting and kind of useful.  I always prefer to go to the gym at a time when I can come home and shower after, but every so often my schedule is tight, and if there's a scheduled class I really want to go to before another appointment, the shower may have to wait.  


This happened this week, when I went to a CrossFit class immediately before going to class.  The wipe worked better than I thought it would. The damp towel inside didn't smell funny, and didn't leave me sticky, which I was worried about. If you like to squeeze in a run or workout in the middle of your day, the Athletic Body Wipe can wipe you down and tide you over until you're able to shower later on.  

Lastly, there were plenty of discount and freebie card and coupons in the box, as well, to purchase more of any of these products if you decided you liked one of them.  That's a nice way to continue trying out the product without paying full price. 

So, if you're interested to see what's out there and get a monthly box of wellness samples, go on over to BuluBox.com and sign up!

Do you use any of these items? Which would you want to try the most?

Dislaimer: The box of supplements was sent to me free of charge, but the opinions expressed above are all my own.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Read critically

I'm a little late on this, but I recently stumbled upon the March 2012 edition of TIME FOR KIDS.  Intrigued by the cover story ("Sugar Overload!"), I took a look inside.

Source: Time for Kids

I was pleased to see health issues taking center stage in an educational children's publication.  The article starts off like this, explaining how sugar is hidden in a lot of foods we might not expect (like sauces and crackers), in addition to those we already know (like candy and soda).  TIME encourages kids to search labels for the many aliases of sugar, consider the amount of sugar in various food products, and maybe think about cutting back.

All good, right?

While I do applaud TIME's effort at helping young people identify added sugar and think about its unhealthy effects in their body, I was sorely disappointed with the article's lack of attention to what IS healthy.  The well-intentioned writer warns students all about the unwanted "Sugar Overload" and displays the shocking amounts of sugar in some of their favorite packaged foods, but...

  Not once does the word "vegetable" 
appear in the article.  

All it would have taken was a simple line at the end, saying "To be sure you're not getting dangerous amounts of added sugar, choose real foods over packaged meals and snacks."  That's it!  Give them something to replace the sugary snacks with.  TIME FOR KIDS completely dropped the ball, in my opinion.  This would have been the perfect chance!  They instill a fear in readers, ("Ahh! Added sugars are in everything!"), but fail to help children learn that whole foods may be the better choice overall. After all, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, etc. that come as they are in nature would make safe choices, if added sugar is the fear.  Instead, the article focused on packaged foods, processed consumables that, more likely than not, do have some kind of added sugar.

I hope that TIME FOR KIDS and other children's publications continue the recent trend in educating adults and children alike about health issues, food choices, and physical activity, but I also hope they focus on what young people can do to become healthy young adults, rather than instill fear without offering proper solutions. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Keep up

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you all had a joyous holiday with your family and friends, and got some time to ENJOY the long weekend.  I'll give my reminder from last year to Thank Your Body and all the wonderful, miraculous things it does for you on a daily basis. 

My Thanksgiving was lovely, thank you!  My mother hosted a delicious dinner, and I spent the evening surrounded by family--wouldn't have it any other way. The only thing missing was a dog, if anyone wants to send one my way. ;)  You're surely also wondering what we ate. One thing that there was plenty of: VEGETABLES.


And plenty of leftovers, which I put to good use.


On Thanksgiving morning after watching the parade, my mom and I took a walk around the neighborhood, and let me say: It was gorgeous! What a perfect fall day! The air was crisp and clean, leaves crunched under our feet, and I just barely needed the sweatshirt I'd put on.  Perfection!  I'd forgotten how much I enjoy just spending time outdoors in the fall, without any destination or deadline.  I hope you all got the opportunity for some fresh fall air this weekend, too. 

Today I re-dare you to Step Outside

Then we got ready, watched "Friends" Thanksgiving episodes, and soon the family arrived. My grandfather carved the turkey like a pro.


In addition to Thanksgiving, it was the birthday of my beautiful big sister!  I'm always thankful that the holiday brings us together to celebrate. 


Other good news - my cousin had a baby!  I'll let her be the one to announce it to you, though. But I'm thinking of them :) 

Over the weekend, I did a pretty good job of relaxing. Lounged around, shopped around, and discovered a new favorite nail color: SkyFall by OPI.


Regal, isn't it? 

Now, it's back to the real world, the daily grind, the packed schedule, and the blogggg.  So here I am! Gearing up for more dares now that the holiday season is really upon us.


Other new great things:

I have become a Greatist Ambassador!  Greatist.com is this awesome website that is just exploding with information about fitness, health, happiness, and overall wellness.  I love it, and you will, too!  Go check it out and see how the Greatist Ambassadors can inspire you to be YOUR healthiest, "greatist" self.  But be warned: it's easy to spend all day clicking around that site. So much to learn!!  More on this to come.

I'm a Greatist!

This month, I've been doing CROSSFIT! I'm getting after it. I'm loving it. I'm feeling awesome. My busy schedule has my workouts down to two or three times per week, but I'm making the most of those days and feeling strong!  After all, Krysten reminds us that Strong is the New Sexy.  So I'll keep this up so long as I can afford it... which may taper off but I'm taking advantage for now.

KILLER WOD last night...
I was the Tin Man today.

Still been eating my daily sauerkraut.  Chris Kresser recently posted about becoming a fermentation ninja. Dare you to...

Also: Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean sent me all kinds of tasty goodies for winning the conclusion of her October Photo Challenge.  I had a lot of fun doing the challenges and snapping photos to share.  Now, I'm excited to have these snacks and ingredients on hand! ALSO!  Lindsay is now hosting the Elf for Health Holiday Challenge.  It sounds so so so awesome; it involves teams and challenges and everything good... but I'm spread a bit too thin at the moment to participate. But... I dare YOU to! Go check it out.  It's on a weekly basis, so very doable.

Final thought: Even if there's not a new post up on the blog, you can keep up with me on other platforms!  Get updates on food, fitness, fun, and other antics on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.


I know my questions may seem a little overdue, but to my American friends...
How was your Thanksgiving weekend? Did you relax? Shop? Pamper? Work? Step Outside? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Start a Conversation

The Canadian Cancer Society has a message for you: #YouAreLoved.


Step 1: Watch
  • You Are Loved by Fight for Life features three female cancer survivors, describing their individual battles and encouraging women to speak to their doctors.

 


Step 2: Listen
  • Cancer doesn't discriminate anybody
  • Don't live in fear; enjoy everything! Enjoy as much as you can
  • If you know something is not right, make sure you talk to your doctors.
  • Allowing people to support you doesn't negate the fact that you are still strong and abled.

Step 3: Start a conversation
  • Share this video and invaluable message with your loved ones.
  • Take their words to heart, and know that life can change at every corner.
  • Be cautious. Be smart.
  • Early detection is key. Seek a medical opinion if you've got any questions.
  • Don't waste time; do what you want in life, now.
Check out Fight for Life for more information.

I dare you to start a conversation with your mothers, aunts, friends, grandmothers, sisters, co-workers, and doctors.  Educate yourself about the symptoms and questions to keep in mind.  Spread the love to fight women's cancers. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Take Race Recovery Seriously

So you ran a race. GREAT!  But are you recovering properly?  Today, our racing season guest writer dares you to take your race recovery seriously.  Don't know how?  Amanda's got you covered:
-----

Check her out!

Do you take race recovery seriously?

I see it all over the place—runners who run a race on the weekend and then are back out there pounding the pavement HARD a couple of days later. While I understand getting caught up in the race high, I also cringe when I see this happen. Why? Because recovery from a race is something we all need to take seriously.

Racing breaks your body down, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Even a short effort—a 5k or 10k, is enough to do some damage. Yes, you didn’t go far, but you did (I assume!) go hard. Respect that your muscles want some downtime.

What I recommend is that, for races up to a 10-miler, you take the week after a race fairly free form. That is, no specific workouts that you must follow. Instead, let your body and mind be your guide. Feel like running? Fine, but keep it shorter and easier than normal. Feel like sleeping in? Do it. Consider also some light cross-training, something like an easy spin on your bike or a swim.

Later on in the week, if you are feeling truly recovered, maybe try a couple of miles at tempo pace. But if you get into the effort and feel a bit sluggish, back off. Your body wants a bit more rest.

If you’ve gone longer than a 10-mile race, I suggest stretching your recovery out even longer. This is especially true for a marathon, which breaks your body down more than you can even detect. For complete recovery, it can actually take as long as a full month.

Again, I’m not saying stop exercising. But what I am saying is that in the days and sometimes weeks following a race, your body is at its most vulnerable to injury. Take your training easier and shorter than you would normally and let the muscles heal completely before you step it up a notch. Follow this approach and not only will you avoid injury, but you’ll likely come back stronger for your next race. Good luck!

Amanda Loudin

Twitter: @misszippy1

------

Thanks, Amanda!  It's too easy to revel in the joy of your accomplishment, but recovering properly is an important part of the process, too!  Dare you all to take her advice, and help your body heal, post-race. 

How do YOU recover after a big race?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Floss

But actually.

I've been using Glide, but whatever you've got will do!

Dental floss. That annoying little string that seems much more inconvenient than it ever actually proves to be.  It's time to get flossing.


If you're perfect and floss daily, feel free to close the browser right now.  But if you're like most of the people I've spoken to, stick around.

I confess, I'm guilty of not flossing nearly as much as I should. I do it when I remember, which is rarely, or when I stumble upon the tiny containers, after the dentist gives me a new one, or when I am reminded of the benefits of flossing.  Now, understand, my teeth have been just fine.  My dentist has yet to comment on my gums or accuse me of not flossing enough.  However, I am no longer taking that to mean I'm in the clear.

These may make it easier?

Floss isn't just for getting that stubborn piece of food out from between your teeth.  It's a habit that leads to health in other ways. Let's see how:

Dangers:

Benefits: PREVENT ALL THOSE THINGS! 

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

This week, I dared myself to floss. Daily. I took out my little floss packs (like the easy-to-use picks above, or the string packs that my dentist gives me) and kept them in view near my toothbrush.  Every night before brushing, I made a point of flossing my teeth first.

But how, you ask?  Not sure you're doing it right?  Follow this step-by-step slideshow or watch the following minute-long tutorial video:



So, I made friends with the little box of string.  The first two times, my gums bled a bit. Not pretty, but it didn't really hurt, either. And then it was fine! My teeth and gums got used to it, and handling the long string of floss became less of a hassle. Like anything else, it's all about establishing a habit.

Did it make a huge difference in my life? No, not yet, but I like to think of what I'm preventing down the line.  Plus, I like going to bed knowing my teeth and gums are squeaky clean!

I'm going to continue my flossing routine, and I dare you to begin or continue yours!  

WebMD has a counterargument for every excuse, so NO EXCUSES!  Find that hidden little box, put it in plain view by your toothbrush or any location you'll see it and use it daily, and simply begin the habit.  It may take time and effort to start, but this is one habit that's worth getting used to.  Take care of your health! Give your gums some attention. Floss

Do you remember to floss every day? 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Keep a blog

Today is a monumental day in America, a day for the history books, a day for national pride, and a day for us in America and abroad to look back on the past year and see what's been accomplished.

I started a blog.

Sure, there's this election thing going on, and we cast our votes for the next American President, but what's REALLY exciting is that one year ago, I started a blog, and have since kept and grown it.  Dare You To... has been in existence for exactly one year. 

Happy "blogiversary" to me!

When I was somehow persuaded to finally create the blog and write my first post, I had no clue how much it would grow, take over my life, and take on a life of it's own.  I've met some amazing people--both online and in person--and learned so much about health, wellness, fitness, blogging, sharing, and the power of community encouragement and support.  Special thanks to my FitFluential family for helping me grow, and thank YOU, my readers, for sticking with my throughout my first year.  I look forward to the next!

In this year, we've become runners, transformed our diet, invested in proper equipment, tried new workouts, and met fitness celebrities.  Now you and I will continue to set SMART goals, make time for fun, and cook up a storm. Who's with me??

Rather than celebrating with a giant giveaway or fanfare, I simply want to thank you for sticking with me, taking on my dares, and inspiring me in return.   Your messages, comments, and emails letting me know what challenge you've accomplished or how Dare You To... has inspired you have touched my heart and inspired me, in return.

As a present to my blog, you can now get to Dare You To simply by going to www.dareyoutoblog.com, rather than through blogspot. Woohoo!

I'll also self-promote a bit my reminding you that you can find Dare You To... on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and DailyMile, or by clicking "subscribe" or "join this site" on the right side panel. =)  

Stay in touch!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Run When You're Not a Runner

Good morning!  Hope you're recovering well after the storm and its repercussions.  In case you missed it, last week on the blog we had a Motivational Monday, a (Paleo) Recipe Book Review, and the final post recapping the Live Lean Eat Green Photo Challenge. Be sure to look back on those!

Today in our running series, we've got Erin guest blogging about her experience running, as someone who is NOT a runner!  There was a day when I was not a runner, either, but she and I are both living proof that change is possible.

-----

Hey everyone! My name is Erin and I am a vegetarian blogger over at Girl Gone Veggie. As a fellow FitFluential Ambassador and huge Dare You To fan when Meredith put out the call for guest bloggers to share their running stories I was really excited. I am not what I consider a runner, but lately I have been running and I LOVE it.

For a little bit more background about me, I am 22 years old, a senior in college majoring in marketing, and a year-long vegetarian! I started my blog Girl Gone Veggie last year to share my life and my journey to health with the world. If you knew me when I was younger you would have never guessed I would become a vegetarian later in life. While I never ate a ton of meat I hated fruits and most vegetables until I was 18 years old. I ate a lot of fast food, didn't live a very active life, and it showed. Last year I made the decision to start thinking critically about what I was putting into my body, and whether those foods benefited or hindered my health. I banned trans fats from my life and started eating boatloads of fruits and veggies. It's crazy to think I now crave them. To fill you in on how I got started running is pretty simple. A few months ago I had a serious urge to get in shape. (Getting engaged does that to you!) I wanted to create a cardio workout routine I could follow regularly, so I headed to my school gym for the first time. I surveyed all the cardio machines and took stock of my options. The stairmaster isn’t very exciting. The bikes always make one of my knees feel funny, like I can’t extend it fully. I never have knee problems so this is very odd to me. The elliptical always feels easy to me. I get in a great workout when I do it and sweat a ton, but I never find myself having to pull strength from somewhere deeper to get through a workout, to really push myself past my comfort zone and just keep trucking.


And then there’s the treadmill. The treadmill I have always avoided because it hurts. Running doesn’t come easy to me, I was always towards the end of the pack running the yearly mile in school and I would end it winded and hurting. I have friends who are amazing runners and I never understood why they put themselves through it. To me running is pain. One of my best friends is a running beast. As she told me running is the sport that is every other sport’s punishment. When teammates goof off or disappoint a coach they’re made to run laps or sprints. If you run, that’s what you do all the time. Running always seemed crazy to me, but I was serious about getting in shape and figured pushing myself to become something better should hurt. So I swallowed my pride that day at the gym, got on the treadmill, and worked on putting one foot in front of the other.


I knew before I did anything I needed to get fit with good running shoes so I did some research and ended up purchasing the Saucony Omni 11s.They are so comfy and perfect for my feet. I need a little support and stability when I run because I'm a slight overpronator. Other than buying shoes I didn’t really have a plan when I started running. I knew I could run for the length of a song before getting winded so I made a deal with myself. I’d run fast for one song and then speed walk the next. Everyone has ways of working out that work best for them, and for me giving it my all for one song at a fast speed and then getting to give 50% and decrease my speed for the next song worked. There were times I’d be running praying for the song to end. There are still songs that when they come on and it’s my run song I dread because I know they’re ridiculously long. But it was an attainable goal for me, a challenge that was hard but wasn’t so hard I couldn’t do it and wanted to quit. And it distracted me from looking at the time and the mileage. I just focused on running which was so important because for me my mind is half the battle. I love running on a treadmill. I’m out of the sun, in an air conditioned room, in a safe environment where my speed is able to be consistently set for me. There’s no cars, no cracks in the sidewalk, no rain or bad weather. I know most runners hate treadmills, but for me and the stage I’m at with running, I love them. Something that I knew from the get-go is that if you don’t play with the treadmill machines they can be a lot easier than running outside. Outside runs involve hills and inclines that you don’t experience if you run on the treadmill at 0% incline. So I never let myself do that. I set my treadmill to the hill mode or the variable mode, depending on which gym I’m at, so that my incline is always varying, regardless of whether it’s a run or walk song for me. 


I am not training for a marathon or some athletic event (although I’d love to be able to run a half marathon someday!). I’m simply running because the more I run, the more I like running, and the more I like how running makes me feel about myself. My running regimen was not created by a trainer and isn’t scientific in any way, but it is working for me. I’ve been running for almost two months now and I have made incredible gains and progress. I used to be happy with running a mile and I can now run longer than a 5k. As I get faster (this is relative; I am still not a fast runner) and feel my running becoming easier, I increase my walking song speed and my running song speed. I’m always adapting and always changing my workout to suit my needs which is keeping me interested and passionate about what I’m doing. I’m sure this will change within a few weeks, but my current running routine looks like the following: Running duration: between 30-45 minutes (depending on if I’m weight lifting afterwards) Running frequency: 3-4 times a week Running song speed: 5.5mph Walking song speed: 4mph Incline: varies between 1-6% Running is just like everything else, if you do it enough you eventually get better. I started off running the speed I’m now walking. It’s also gotten a lot less painful for me. My breathing is much more controlled and my face is a lot less flushed when I run, though I still sweat buckets. I find my legs feeling stronger and my mind much more focused than I ever did before. I may not be a runner, but I am running. And even though it’s on a treadmill, rather slowly, for pretty short distances, it’s still me getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other. And to me that’s all that matters. And that's where I currently am in my running journey. Thanks for letting me share my story with you. And a big thanks to Meredith for sharing her space on the internet with me!

Question of the Day: Do you consider yourself a runner? What type of running do you do?

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Thanks, Erin!  You and I are similar in a lot of ways; I really related to and enjoyed reading your post. 

Dare YOU to follow her lead! You don't need to be training for a race to begin a running routine. Just get out there! Hit the road or jump on the treadmill, and just move your feet. You might surprise yourself! 


Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Photos: October 26-31

Continuing my October Challenge here. See photo batch 1, batch 2, and big batch 3.

October 26: Tell someone why you love them.

I did.
We made it into a hangman game.
Highly recommended.

27: Eat a vegetable with breakfast.



28: Try to set a new plank PR today!

I'm inspired to start #plankaday


29: Make cookies with 2 healthy subs.

I made three



30: Try a new recipe.


That one was a hurricane-food fail, so tried this instead:

Recipe by Balanced Bites
WIN.

31: Snap a pic of something beautiful! 

Sun emerging after the storm


This challenge has inspired me to use Instagram more, capturing random accomplishments, moments, inspiration, and beauty.  So follow along!

Looking for your own new recipes? Check these out!

Want to do something similar in November? Try THIS!

What are your typical baking swaps? 
How do you sneak veggies into breakfast?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Make It Paleo

Earlier this month, I shared WIAW: Making It Paleo, where I told you about the Make It Paleo cookbook by The Food Lovers and showed you some of the recipes I tried out in my kitchen.  The response to the photos that I posted and have been tweeting and Instagramming have been great. People see these meals and think, "That's Paleo? That doesn't look so hard."  

And it's not! It's just delicious.  Now that I've worked my way through many of the recipes, I'm excited to give you a full review. 

I swear I only put Post-Its on recipes that
I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to make.

The book opens with a foreword by Mark Sisson. That was just about all I needed to see to be convinced that this would be a good book. He's one of my absolute top Primal/Paleo resources. When I have a question, I typically go to his site first; it is such a rich resource for all things health-related from a primal perspective, while still balancing out the "normal" of today's world. I highly recommend you check it out.

SO, the fact that he endorses this cookbook was a huge plus. Off to a great start.

Next, there is a very thorough, easy-to-follow Table of Contents listing the early resources and then all the recipes by type: Breakfasts, Appetizers, Entrees (meat, poultry, seafood), Salads, Soups, Sauces and Dressings, Side Dishes, Treats and Cheats.

The Introduction includes notes from Hayley's "Grandpa Buz" (a doctor) and from each author--Bill Staley and Hayley Mason.


Next, the book goes through an intro to Paleo, including... what it is, the food guidelines, a primer on meat and fish (the best way to go about purchasing quality products),
also on fruits and vegeatbles--suggestions for where to find the cleanest types, and a guide to seasonal produce.


There's also a really helpful guide to oils and fats. "Healthy fat is an essential component of the paleo diet," they begin, and then go on to describe the uses for various types of fats in cooking.  They elaborate even further on nuts and seeds and what types of "flours" you can use with them. There's also a table showing which herbs, spices, and seasonings go best on each: poultry, pork, lamb, seafood, and beef.

Then, after explaining some different cooking tools and tips, the recipes begin at last.

Almost 400 pages of recipes. Wow.

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Seared Artichokes!


More on this to come

Hello, delicious.
Banana Bread with date-mixture. mm mm 

Veggie Egg Bake

Brussels Sprouts!!! 

Butter Garlic Wings
I was never a wings person.
... until now? Wow.
The name of the recipe says it all.

Butternut Squash Soup
My first time making soup from scratch!
They made it so easy. 

Coconut-Nested Eggs
Creative and tasty.
I ate the first egg before I remembered to take a picture. 

Chocolate-Chip Cookies


Crust of EGGPLANT! 


Outrageously good zucchini lasagne

Coconut Flour
(Waffles and) Pancakes

THESE WERE SO GOOD.
The fluffiest Paleo pancakes I've had, yet. 
Make them.

Portobello Turkey Burgers 


I made the "Rosemary Roasted Turkey"
recipe with chicken breasts. Still good!

Paired the Rosemary Roasted Chicken with
Cauliflower Rice

Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

Is that enough for you???? Believe it or not, that's only a small sampling of everything the book has to offer.  Nothing has disappointed so far.

The work concludes with "Menus for Special Occasions," with a complete meal menu for events such as birthday dinners, specific holiday meals, "Summer Cookout," "Tex-Mex Night," and "The Big Game."  These would be fun to use when hosting a party.



And that's it!  Bill & Hayley really walk you through how to Make It Paleo, with delicious recipes that will keep you interested and satisfied. These easy-to-make, delicious meals prove that paleo is possible for anyone.  Learn more about the book here or go ahead and buy your copy on Amazon!   

But wait! The authors have way more to offer, too.  They've got an E-book to help you through your first 30 days of paleo eating. Check it out here.

If you're interested in a free, versatile tool to take these paleo recipes with you wherever you go, download their MyKitchen App.  With it, you can browse and save recipes, create meal plans and shopping lists, and optionally sync these with your online account.  Definitely worth trying out.

Make It Paleo

But back to the book:  If you're looking to try out some paleo recipes or want to experiment with the diet, this is a great resource for you! I dare you to learn a little bit more about paleo eating and this cookbook today!


Which of these recipes would you want to make first?

Dislaimer: I received the cookbook free of charge to review, but the opinions expressed above are all my own.