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Monday, July 10, 2017

Netflix and Hulu really need to get their act together and not leave people without something to watch all.summer.long. Actually, it makes me a little nervous for the fall when all my favorite shows get new episodes...I guess this is a heads up to Ben that putting the kids to bed will be his job then. As a result, I've been watching YouTube in the evening and have found some really fascinating clips. I got hooked on documentaries of The Western States 100 mile endurance run.  I was especially inspired by Katie Lickteig, not because she won, but because of her amazingly positive attitude.

Then I watched this video , about Elle Ip, and I cannot stop thinking about it.  Basically, she signed up for an athletic swimsuit competition when she was 8 months pregnant and not living an active, healthy life.  She documents her 10 month struggle with losing the baby weight plus getting toned for a swimsuit competition.  She doesn't have a nutritionist or a coach or a babysitter or even a gym membership!  She has a treadmill and some free weights and a scale+tape measure.  I sympathized with her through the tears of sleep deprivation and caring for small kids and trying to do a little something for yourself.  This is what I cannot stop thinking about: she found that what worked for her was, light training and allowing herself one day a week to eat whatever she wanted.  She didn't starve herself the rest of the days; she was very conscious of getting enough nutrients to feed her baby but made healthy choices and those "free" days would literally eat anything that sounded good to her, no matter what it was or how much it was.  As for the training, she walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day and lifted light weights IN HER CLOSET.  I was just in shock.  Her body didn't immediately bounce back, like most videos you see of women just easily dropping the weight.  No, you could see that it was a struggle and I found that so refreshing.  What I found the most remarkable about the journey was that you could see a shift, when she really started losing the weight and it wasn't until her baby was about 8 months old and the competition was close!  I was getting nervous!  The shift happened when she started getting more sleep, which made her stress levels go down and as she saw some results, her mood improved.  Sleep+low stress+ positive thoughts=amazing results.

If these two videos aren't proof of the power of the brain in fitness, I don't know what is.

Strength of the mind

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Being completely vulnerable.
If you look through my journal, you will see a theme.  Actually, you probably don't even have to look at my journal to know this theme in me.  I have a very natural tendency to be negative.  Give me any situation and I can find the negative...some might say that I even look for it.  It's not depression, it's just a negative script that runs through my head.  I have been fighting to change that script; those journal pages are filled to the brim with scripture and prayers.  I finally came to a spot where I knew something had to change TODAY.  I need to accept that this is a struggle I may always have but equip myself to fight.  Why TODAY?  Because what runs through my head effects my words and my attitude towards my family and that in turn effects their words and attitudes, especially one very impressionable little girl. 

While this much needed change was on my heart, I listened to a podcast (while running on the treadmill to make it a little bit enjoyable) by Marathon Training Academy, called "How Running Changes Your Brain-Interview with Dr Wendy Suzuki" can also watch a similar video here.  Oh, how I needed this!  Dr. Suzuki has done extensive research on how exercise changes our brain, but I would say she equally found that our brain changes our exercise.  Things I found interesting about her podcast and really needed to hear:

1. We are the most productive (our brains are functioning at their highest capacity) right after exercising. 

2. When we have negative scripts running through our brain, those negative synapses are stronger and therefore fire more naturally.  Saying positive things will strengthen the positive synapses over time and hopefully, will eventually take over that natural position.

3. Say out loud positive things during an exercise. 
**This goes hand-in-hand with runners having mantras, but takes it one step further.  A suggestion would be to say while running:  I am strong.  I am committed.  I am fast.  I am more than enough.  I am on fire!

4. In a study between running, HIIT and walking, walking actually won for the best exercise for our brain.  Surprising, but it won because running and HIIT both put stress on your body (it's good stress, but it's still stress).  I probably won't be taking up walking, although hiking is intriguing, but it is a good reminder to make sure you get in some slow, easy runs.

5. Brain health is more important than most want to give it credit.  Things to do to keep this very important organ healthy:
~Sleep!  At least 8 hours a night.
~Eat a healthy diet...more on that later
~Meditation or prayer
~Learn a new skill
~Learn a new language
~Do something you enjoy
~Listen to music
~Drink tea and say things you are thankful for
~Don't check email and social media.  Obviously for work purposes, you probably have to check email a couple of times a day, but the idea is to not let it fill your thoughts.

6. She addressed being down on yourself during working out.  I found it refreshing that I wasn't the only one who compares myself to other athletes around me.  BUT it doesn't matter what they are wearing or how fast they are going or how far or how big their muscles are...

 boy, did I need that kick in the pants.

7. She did some interesting research studies.  I have a secret love for research like this.  In one study, they had a green drink and told one group that it was a tea full of vitamins and protein and was only 100 calories.  They gave the same drink to another group and told them that it was full of sugar and chemicals and was 800 calories.  The group who believed the drink was healthy, felt better about drinking it (had those positive synapses firing away), but the group who thought it was basically a milkshake felt terrible about drinking it.  It's amazing how our thoughts affect even our food choices!

Running is 90% mental, which means that all these years I've been running on 10%, which also means that running is amazing because that 10% has really helped my mental status stay somewhat positive. I'm really curious to see how my running changes after I put some work into a healthy brain.  Interestingly enough, I ended that treadmill run feeling like I could have kept running; it was the best I've felt in a long time.

My journey on this subject is just beginning, but it is clear that all aspects of my life will benefit from this endeavor. 

I am strong.  I am committed.  I am more than enough.

Small regrets


Sunday, July 2, 2017

I'm excited to announce that I have finally conquered getting up early in the morning to run and there is no going back!  It's the small victories in life...

Anyway, I was running one morning, thinking about this past year and realized how much I regretted not documenting our running.  I so wish Ben had blogged through intense training while being deployed and getting a medal every single race they had on base.  I felt like there wasn't much to say about my running, but really, there was.  It may not have seemed like much, but just the fact that I was able to run at all while Ben was deployed is huge.  More than huge.  His first deployment, I was so stressed I could barely make it through 2 miles.  It was amazing to not have that stress this time around (not that it was all roses) and to be able get in some decent miles.  This time around, it was a stress reliever and even though it was just circles around my house, it was refreshing.

When Ben got home from deployment, he gave me Faster Road Racing, a book he used while deployed and he helped me to see that I was actually in a big time running rut!  I was so thankful for those rut miles, but I was literally doing the same run (same miles and pace) and it was actually have somewhat of a negative affect. 

This is a quote from HungryRunnerGirl:
"Some warning signs for when you know you need to make a change in your training—>  you are experiencing constant fatigue, a change in your sleep patters, you are sick more often than normal, moody, loss of menstruation, change in your weight, lots of worrying, forgetfulness and anything else that is off to you and your normal self."

I definitely had some of these symptoms, but just contributed it to deployment.  Crazy enough, I have more energy now when I get up early and mix up my routine.  Ben's also home, so that helps too :) 
Ben helped me to realize that I was running all of my runs too fast and helped me finally accept that it's okay to slow down.  Now I have a tempo run, interval run, aerobic run and long run throughout my week with some strength training and am feeling on top of that rut.

I also regret not documenting running in the winter here because we are sadly back to summer, which equals the treadmill.  Blech.

Every once in awhile we like to pretend it's not summer and run outside.  And then there was that one crazy time Ben tricked me into running to Mexico and the border patrol came after us.

Some how I have to find a way to make treadmill run interesting posts for awhile...

Completely random

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

I love this video:
I feel like Meb is the father of running.  I've heard him say multiple times that his focus of each day is doing small things to make himself better; from strength to nutrition to stretching.  However, it's not to look better or be better than the next person, but just a better self.  It's refreshing.  I also completely needed to hear what he said about posture.  I've been working on more core training, but it's still easy for me to not put as much effort into it as I should.

We started taking Maya with us on short jogs around the block this week.  The vet said she shouldn't run more than a mile until she's a year old...but that was also before we knew she was a greyhound.  It's been the most hilarious experience taking her.  My 7:30 pace is a s.l.o.w trot for her.  She definitely helps with the speed work and I forget all about running because I'm so entertained by her.  She absolutely LOVES being out with us and comes back acting like she's the coolest dog in town.

Surviving July

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Every day in July was above 100° F. In fact there were only 5 days in the month where the high was below 106° F and we had 12 days where it got to 110° F or higher! I was nervous about this month long before I moved here. Running and desert heat is just a bad combination. Yet I survived.  I managed to run 141 miles this month. I won't say that I thrived because that would be a stretch. I slogged through some miserable hot runs, I plodded along on the treadmill, and drank gallons of water. Here are the four things that helped me survive the month:

1. Get out of town.
I spent the first few days of the month in Canada (and got one run in after my fishing trip), and I spent 6 days in San Diego for work. I made sure to run each day in San Diego and enjoy the cool weather. These brief respites from the heat were mentally necessary. Not only did the cooler temperatures feel great, they let me run outside without feeling like I was being cooked alive.

Running Mission Trails in San Diego

2. Embrace the treadmill
Maybe embrace is too strong a word. Mentally I have come to accept the necessity of the treadmill. But I still loathe the machine. Given the choice I'd rather be a hamster then not run at all.  I logged most of my miles in July on the treadmill. On a positive note I found that there is a certain brand of treadmill called Woodway that actually feels pretty good. They have two of them at the gym on base. Their unique slat belt tread actually feels like running on the road. If you ever see one I highly encourage you to run on it you should give it a try if you can't run outside.

I have a great treadmill running partner!

3. Ditch the long-run
I normally do a 10 mile run once a week. I love this routine because it gets me a lot in terms of fitness and endurance and it also gives me a great sense of accomplishment every week. I only did one 10 mile run this month and it was while I was in San Diego. While I miss the long-run and can't wait to to incorporate it back in my routine, I've accepted that I just have to let it go in these conditions. There is a time for everything and right now it's not time to run 10 miles. 

No big runs but at least I caught a big fish.

The perfect stride

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I've been running on the treadmill for the last 3 months and it's killing me.  My feet started hurting, so much so that I was only able to make it 1 single mile before having to jump off.  Ben took a slow motion video for me to see what could be causing this pain, besides the hard surface of the treadmill.

It didn't take long to see how horrible my stride was.  It makes sense, though.  First of all, I have poor posture to begin with and second, the treadmill makes my running feel so artificial.  It almost feels impossible to run well on it, but perhaps that just a mental thing.  Does anyone really love running, but not going anywhere?

I committed to working on my form and began with research.  We watched some Youtube videos and I got a few workouts off of Pinterest.  Ben got me some new running shoes, which always makes running way more fun.  Still love my Brooks!

I followed this workout plan from and this and this strength training workouts from  Only 2 weeks in and I can tell a difference.  I was reminded how quickly I drop strength training off my workout schedule.  Running is my priority and whatever time I have left I'll do a few things, but it's not my priority.  I realized how much better running will be if I invest in my strength as well.

I was so fed up with running on the treadmill that I started getting up crazy early this week to run outside.  It was *only* in the 90's, but it actually felt fine.  You know you've adjusted to life in the desert when you type a sentence like that.  It actually felt amazing.  Watching the sun rise and smelling the flowers and hearing the birds chirp were fuel for my soul.  And guess what?!  My feet didn't hurt!  Nothing hurt.  I felt like I could run forever.  Well, until my water ran out that is.  After months and months of a running slump, it was crazy encouraging to enjoy running again.

The perfect stride is out there.  Just don't neglect strength training and take some time periodically to check yourself and make sure your form is right.

Whole 30 turned Whole 10

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Monday, August 1, 2016

I wrote this post a week into Whole 30:

Don't you love how Ben scientifically proved that I'm SUPER stinky now?
It's true.  The sweat that pours from me during a workout is a whole new beast without carbs.

115 outside means Ben will finally run on the treadmill!
It's funny how a week can seem like eternity.  Ben and I were reminiscing last night about the one time we attempted the Atkins diet *back when we were young* and only made it 5 days!  I finished this week feeling strong, like I had conquered this huge battle, and then realized it's only been 7 days.

Some things about this week:

1.  The hardest part is being the only one in my family committed.  Everyone has jumped on board with 96% of how I'm eating, but the 4% that's left is hard.  Ben will offer a sip of his beer in the evening or make rice to go with dinner.  The ultimate test of self control was taking the kiddos for ice cream and non of them finishing their cone!  AGH!  That was hard.

 2.  The book outlines for you day by day what you will most likely feel.  I found them to be really accurate, but also couldn't fully blame it on the way I was eating.  Sure, I was a little cranky on day 5, but then I was also woken up at 6am by a puppy and 3 year old and missed my precious, quiet, coffee time.  I was a little more tired on day 7, but we also had a full week of homeschool and errands and some fun activities.

3.  This challenge has opened up a whole new door of dinners for us and we are loving it.  I borrowed the book from a friend and have tried a new recipe every night and each meal was delicious.  I was also really impressed that my kids ate and were satisfied with the food.  I did add a grain for them on a couple of meals, but I think they would have been content without it.  I'll be posting all of our favorite new recipes on our family recipe blog if you would like to get some new dinner ideas.

4.  I can already see positive change.
No giant zits this week.
I noticed our consumption of honey go WAY down.
For the first time in history, I didn't feel the need to have a snack before bed.
Haven't had the afternoon "crash" that I usually feel where I reach for some espresso beans.

5. I love that the challenge emphasizes pre and post fueling for workouts.  Honestly, I am terrible with this in general and usually just grab a snack when I feel hungry after a workout.  I find it refreshing that they lay out what your body needs 15 minutes before a workout and 30 minutes after and emphasize that it's not a meal replacement, but a refueling.  I love that it's not about less calories or losing weight, it's about taking care of your body the right way.

6.  There have been times that it's really bothered Alison.  She notices what I eat why more than I want to believe.  For example, she requested pancakes for breakfast one morning and helped me make them, but then was disappointed that I didn't eat them.  I'm very nervous for how she'll react to my food choices on Colin's birthday this week.  I may just have to break the rules for the sanity of my 8 year old.  We shall see...

Then my Whole 30 came to a crashing hault when our puppy was let out of our yard without us knowing and got lost.  We spent 36 hours searching and searching and searching for her.  We stopped everything and made phone calls and put up fliers and drove around and around.  Our neighbors brought over a basket of giant blueberry muffins and I literally lived off those and coffee for the entire time we searched for her.  I didn't have the brain power to think about cooking food or what I was supposed to eat.  I know it's just a puppy, but it felt like my child lost in the blazing hot desert.  The night before we found her, I broke down in tears and cried to Ben, "I've lost my puppy and I failed the Whole 30!" (I felt like I was in the scene of Dumb and Dumber when he cries about his birds head falling off).  We did find Maya, barely alive.  She has miraculously made a full recovery and I am thankful for the 10 days of the diet.  It really has changed my thinking about food and we have continued to cook some of the recipes.  I have continued to eat what I was eating for about 80% of the time, but have not been strict on dinner.  I think Ben would say that it's good I stopped because it was creating a constant conversation about food among our kids; conversations of things they didn't need to worry about.