“No pain, no gain” used to be my exercise mantra, and since I don’t really like pain, I just didn’t work out. Now that I’ve learned to love gentle movement, exercise has become a regular part of my life. Sharing ideas for gentle movement that I’ve been loving lately, including kayaking, hiking, walking the dogs and yoga.Read More
I just ran my third half marathon this past weekend, and my hardest. When my body and mind (and schedule!) weren’t really up for training, I had to revise some of my goals going into it. In this post, I’m sharing a recap of my half, and some thoughts I had about being intuitive with movement while training for a specific fitness goal.Read More
Hating your early morning workout? Dragging yourself to the gym after work? If you're stuck in a rut where you're hating every second of the workout you're doing, don't be afraid to take a break. Forcing yourself to do something isn't giving you much benefit. Once you take a break and begin to honor your cravings for movement when they do appear, you can rediscover the joy in movement.Read More
Just like there is a point where healthy eating becomes unhealthy, there is a point when exercise becomes unhealthy. Over-exercise, compulsive/obsessive exercise, and exercise bulimia occur when exercise stops being a choice and becomes an obligation. If exercise is interfering with your life, occurring at inappropriate times/settings, or you continue to exercise despite injury or illness requiring rest, then engaging in exercise is no longer healthy for you. Learn the signs and symptoms of overexercise.Read More
Not a fitness person? Me neither. Yet I've learned to incorporate movement into my life on a pretty regular basis by using the skills I gained in intuitive eating. This post shares four tips on how to learn intuitive movement, the practice of getting in touch with your body's signals to determine what type, how long and how intense to do activity.Read More
Celebrating my first half marathon today, plus sharing lessons I learned from my training and race about why weight goals are the actual worst. I promise, it's related!
This past weekend, I ran my very first half marathon in Atlanta. For those who follow me on instagram, I'm sure you're sick and tired of me talking about it, but please allow me just one more post to toot my horn! You see, this was a really big deal for me, because I am NOT an athlete. Generally speaking, I give up on things that are physically difficult. When I ran cross country in high school, I couldn't make it through a 5K without stopping to walk. So yeah, the fact that I went through three months of training and ran 13.1 miles is kind of a miracle. Or a testament to hard work, but more likely a miracle :)
The race itself was a blast, although I was really anxious for two days before it. It didn't help that I got lost in a black hole of googling awful things that can happen during a half (do yourself a favor and DO NOT google image runners trots). Thank goodness for the guy standing next to me in the pen before the race, who was dancing to himself to pump up, but looked so ridiculous I couldn't help but let go of my fears.
The run through Atlanta was gorgeous, and a fun way to explore the city I grew up in. I loved seeing places I recognized, because in a sense, Atlanta is home, but it's changed so much it's a new city to me! The course gave us views of the skyline and went through some of Atlanta's prettiest historic neighborhoods and parks. If anyone is feeling particularly generous and would like to buy me a fully restored craftsman off Edgewood, I would not hate you for it. Most importantly though, I felt REALLY good. My main goal was to be able to enjoy the race, so I ran at a comfortable pace until mile 10, then really pushed myself hard for the last three. The entire time I felt so strong, and at no point was I miserable (except for the 3 1/2 hours in the car driving back home...ouch!). So I'm calling it a success! I said I was one and done, but now I'm working on convincing Scott we need to sign up for half marathons when we travel because it was such a fun way to see the city!
Anyhoo, on to today's post, which is all about how two experiences I had during my half marathon and training reinforced the fact that weight based goals are kind of the worst.
When I first signed up for a half, my main goal was simple: don't die. If I managed not to die, I just wanted to have fun. I really didn't care if I had to walk or if I was the last person to cross the finish line, I just wanted to finish and have a little fun while at it.
So when I started training, I did so with that in mind. Because I didn't have a time goal, I didn't invest in any fancy training watches to track my pace. I just trained myself to run at a pace that felt good to me. Of course, some runs were easier than others, and there were times I had to stop and walk, but mostly, I felt pretty confident. On my first 10 mile run, I blew it out of the water. I felt great the entire time, and when I glanced at the clock, I realized my pace was somewhere in the 9 minute mile range. I had previously estimated my pace to be somewhere around 11 minutes, so I was pretty pumped!
Suddenly, my goal of 'not dying' and 'just having fun' was gone. Now my goal was to be able to run the whole thing without stopping and secretly, I hoped to finish in less than 2 hours. You can see where this is going.
The next couple weeks were filled with setbacks. The next week when I set out for my second 10 mile run, it was awful. I'm not sure why, but I struggled through the entire thing and ended up walking a huge chunk of it. From there, I missed a bunch of training runs with a full work load, travel, and an icky cold that sidelined me for a few days.
When I set out for my last long run of training, I felt totally defeated and that feeling was showing up in my running - I felt awful. But as I ran, I realized that I wasn't upset because I was now afraid of actually dying or that I would be miserable the whole time, but because I was afraid my new goals may not be achievable (if they ever had been). Yet, my initial goals of just running the race and having fun were still well within bounds. I mean, if I was feeling miserable, I could always just stop a walk. I had no shame in doing that in the beginning, so why couldn't I be content with my initial goals? As I realized this, I got my pep back and began to feel that same sense of strength I had in the beginning.
As I ran, I thought about my experience and how it parallels what happens when I see people get caught up in the scale. Have you ever made changes to your eating habits or lifestyle in hopes of getting healthy, or feeling better, but secretly (or not so secretly!) you have hopes of weight loss? Then when you make those changes, feel great and lose a little weight (which often happens when you eat a little healthier), the adrenaline rush hooks you. Then all of a sudden, you're on a full blown diet. That initial goal of feeling great is gone - now you will be skinny! But pretty soon, when life and/or biology kicks in, the diet won't be easy anymore and those pounds will stop dropping, or may even sneak back up. So, you give up entirely, and go back to your old eating habits, because in your mind, you are a failure. But what happened to that original goal of just feeling awesome? Weren't you succeeding in that before the weight goals came in?
During the race, I got another reminder of how numerical goals can go wrong. Going in, I really didn't know what my pace was, and really didn't care - I would just run at a pace that felt comfortable to me. That was great and all, until I saw the 2:15 pacer running right in front of me. At first I thought "Heck yeah! I'm running at her pace and I still feel pretty good!" But after a few miles of running in her general vicinity, 2:15 became no longer good enough. I wanted to go faster, and more importantly, I felt like I could go faster, but I had a voice inside my head saying "Don't burn yourself out too early." Just as loud was the voice telling me 2:15 wasn't good enough. Agh!! My head was going crazy trying decide what to do based on this one single number that may not have even been accurate instead of doing what I had trained myself to do - to listen to my body.
That's the scale for ya. It's a distraction from the internal cues that really do guide you to the best decisions for your health and wellbeing. It's SO hard to trust your body, but trust me, it knows what's right for you over any external factor, whether it's a scale or diet guru.
In the end, I was able to let go and run how I felt, and I was happy, both with my time and my experience. I know that if you are able to let go of the scale, build body confidence and get back in tune with your needs with intuitive eating, you will be happy with your body, and feel great, which to me sounds so much nicer than dieting and obsessing over the scale.
Do you agree? I have spots open for my 4 and 8 session packages starting next month. Learn more about my diet-free coaching philosophy and services here, and email me to get started or to set up a free 15 minute phone consult for more information!
Have you ever had an experience where the scale distracted from what your body really needed?
I've always been envious of natural athletes. You know, those people who can run marathons or triathlons or tolerate crossfit. People like my husband, who excel at every sport the first time they try. The ones who run towards the ball instead of awkwardly running away from it while waving their hands in front of their face.
That's not me. As a child, I was never good at sports. As I got older, I tried to start an exercise habit, but it never stuck. I'd go to the gym for a week, then not again for a month. I'd set out for a run, a stop after less than a mile, even though physically I knew I could run longer. I spent money on tons of fun workout videos, then only used them a couple times.
The problem? I hate exercise. Hate is a strong word, but in this situation, it's 100% accurate.
Yet, as I write this, I'm covered in sweat, hair wet in a ponytail from a long run. I just did laundry, not because I ran out of clean underwear (the usual reason), but because I ran out of sports bras and sticky socks. In the last six months, I've been consistent with either yoga, Pure Barre (<---Full disclosure - Pure Barre corporate and a couple studios are a client of mine) and/or running 5-6 days a week. Most importantly, I've actually loved every second of it.
Seriously, who am I??
I say all this not to brag (although I do want to brag a little bit, because hey, I'm proud!). I say this because I know many of you are in the same boat I was in. Hating to exercise, but knowing you should do it. So, you force yourself to the gym, sign up for bootcamps, and spend too much money on cute workout clothes in an attempt to get fit. But after awhile, when your willpower fades, it's back to the couch.
The key for me was to stop thinking of exercise as exercise and to start thinking of it as movement.
Exercise is something you force yourself to do. It's a means of burning calories or toning your abs. It's a chore to cross of the list. Exercise implies punishment. Punishment for eating a brownie or skipping your green juice or for having thighs that touch. Exercise is done out of fear, whether it's fear or weight gain or fear of the health consequences of being sedentary.
Movement, on the other hand, isn't something you do because you have to, but because you want to. While the results may be weight loss or a more toned body, you move because you want to feel great and because you enjoy the activity. When you move, you still challenge yourself, not because your self talk is screaming like a boot camp instructor, but because you're curious how far or how hard you can go.
As I shifted my mindset, I found myself doing more movements I enjoy. I discovered yoga, which was easy to be consistent with because I love it. By thinking about it as movement, I don't consider myself a failure for not being able to do a headstand after three years of practice, but relish in the fact that my form and flexibility have improved. When I started Pure Barre, I didn't let myself get caught up comparing my form to other women in the room. Instead, I celebrate the fact that I can hold a posture longer, higher and straighter with each class, even if it's not as long, high or straight as the woman next to me. With running, I finally pushed myself past the usual short 15 minute run around my (very flat) neighborhood by challenging myself with curiosity. I asked myself "I wonder how long you can run without stopping?" To my surprise, it was three times the distance.
To my fellow awkward runners and former last kids picked for the team, I challenge you to start changing your mindset around exercise movement. I hope you'll report back and tell me how it goes!
These vegan, gluten free and naturally sweetened chocolate-hazelnut chia bars with sea salt are perfect for fueling a workout, or to enjoy as a sweet treat!
Do me a favor. Next time you're at the grocery store, check out the ingredients list on your favorite energy bar. Soy protein isolate...sucralose...inulin (aka fart fuel)...is that really how you want to fuel your workout?
Although I do love a good Lara bar, for years, I've been making my own. Cheap, easy, and a whole lot tastier than anything you can find at the store! With this chocolate-hazelnut version, I think I outdid myself. Besides the whole nutella thing, these bars are packed with foods to make the most of your workout.
First, there's chocolate, which improves blood flow to muscles, which boosts endurance. Then there's omega 3 rich chia seeds, which may improve post-workout recovery with their anti-inflammatory effects. The sea salt helps replace minerals lost in sweat. And to round it all out, it's naturally sweetened with dates, one of my favorite ways to fuel a workout as it's a concentrated source of natural sugars.
Chocolate Hazelnut Chia Bars
Makes 12 bars
1 cup packed, pitted dates
1.5 cups toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup chia seeds
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon water, optional (if needed to help it stick)
pinch of flaky or crunchy sea salt
Place dates, hazelnuts, chia and cocoa in the food processor and blend until chopped finely and well combined.
Add a tablespoon water if needed to help it blend.
Scoop mixture into an oiled rectangle baking dish. Using a spatula, flatten the top and press down. It should be about 1/2-inch thick.
Sprinkle sea salt lightly over the top and press down so it sticks.
Cut into 12 bars and carefully remove with a spatula.
Store in the refrigerator in a covered container where iit should be fine for a few weeks (as if they'll last that long!).