Thank Goodness It’s Monday

“Sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays” 

What do you mean it's already Monday?

What do you mean it’s already Monday?

Poor Monday. It gets such a bad rap. Countless memes bash Mondays. Susanna Hoffs dreams of Sunday never ending in the Bangles’ song “Manic Monday”. And who hasn’t heard the famous quote above from the classic movie, Office Space?

For some, the horror that is Monday is so great, it even spills into Sunday. The so-called “Sunday Blues” set in for many as early as Sunday morning, where anxiety and dread of the upcoming week becomes consuming. What a shame, Sundays are the best! Relaxed mornings, long workouts, football, the chance to get organized and prep healthy food for the week…sorry, back to the upside of Mondays.

Me, I like Mondays, both at work and in the gym. I’m a creature of habit and enjoy getting back to routine after the weekend.. Don’t get me wrong; I love the chance to relax on weekends. It’s absolutely imperative to get a break from the grind and routine of weekday life. But there’s something comforting about getting back on a schedule.

In my work world, I always seem to have calm, productive Mondays. Everyone’s getting back into the swing after the weekend. Emails and new project requests are pretty minimal, as most are focused on catching up on their own to-do lists. Mondays are a great chance to start fresh and kick off a new week.

I also love starting off the week with a great Monday workout. I usually get in my toughest run on Mondays. I’m mentally fresh coming off the weekend and psyched to push hard. And I know nothing feels better than knocking out a solid run early in the week. Plus, I tend to get a little fatigued as the week goes on so this is my best opportunity to crush some speedwork. For me, it’s the best way to start the week.

Make your Monday awesome.

Make your Monday awesome.

On the flip side, Monday can be the perfect rest day. If you take advantage of quieter weekends at the gym and put in two long, hard workouts, enjoy a rest day on Monday. Or #TreatYoSelf to a splash of yummy flavor in your coffee or something special for breakfast every Monday morning.

My point is, there’s no reason Mondays have to suck. If you struggle with Mondays, just try changing your perspective on them. Attitude and outlook are everything. So find some positivity. Draw something good out of Monday. Put in some effort to make them awesome! Never have a “case of the Mondays” again.

If all else fails, there’s always Monday Night Football to look forward to.

How do you feel about Mondays? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311. Or, share some positivity and help others get through the day using hashtag #MondayMotivation.

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Why Dogs Are Good For Your Health – And Just Awesome

“Dogs are not our whole life but they make our lives whole”

Most people know I enjoy running with my dog, Burton. In the past few months, I’ve also adopted another occasional running buddy, Blitz. Yep, another dog.

It’s true, I love dogs. They’re wonderful, sweet creatures and bring so much positivity into life. Plus, they’re good for your health too. I’m not making this up! There’s oodles of research out there that proves owning a dog provides a ton of health benefits, mental and physical.

I was thinking about this on my run today – well, on both my runs today. Allow me to explain. Burton and Blitz are what I’d call, highly energetic dogs. They’re also both really strong and fast so I sadly can’t take them running together. Instead, I often go for two runs, one with each dog.

But anyway, back to my runs. They ended up being pretty great! Nice, chilly morning, legs felt good and the miles went by really fast. Something about splitting a typical 6-miler into two 3-milers made it seem shorter. But the best part of running today was that I almost didn’t.

You're not just going to sit there all day, are you?

You’re not just going to sit there, are you?

See, I was having one of those mornings where I just didn’t really feel like running. We’ve all been there, right? For me, I was home alone (for those who aren’t familiar with the North Dakota/Minnesota area, this weekend marked the opener of deer hunting season) so I got caught up enjoying coffee and some DVR, then started feeling guilty for being a bum so I decided to do some cleaning, then before I knew it the morning was nearly gone and I hadn’t made it out the door to run yet. It would have been really easy to blow it off in favor of a million other things I wanted to get done today but, luckily for me, B&B weren’t having it. Both were being their usual, energetic selves, and kept looking at me as if to say, “Aren’t we going running today?” I knew they needed to burn some energy and, deep down, I knew I’d be happier and feel better if I went running. So I layered up, laced up and headed out, first with Burton, then with Blitz. It was great.

That’s the thing about dogs. They don’t let you slack off. They remind you that running is fun, it’s freeing and it really is the best part of your day. The same rules apply to walking. I’ve had tons of bonus cardio moments just taking each dog for a walk. Dogs remind you to get up and get moving – they’re kind of like personal trainers. Other than the fact they nap excessively and are willing to eat just about anything.

Fellow dog lovers, has your furry friend helped keep you in shape? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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Slim-Fit, Regular, Curvy – Let’s Add Athletic

“One size does not fit all”

Okay, I’ve gotta vent a little about something. But don’t worry, this won’t just be 600 words of me bitching and moaning – well, it will be that, but also with a solution to the problem!

Over the years, and especially the past few, I’ve found it difficult to find nice, everyday clothes that fit well. Let’s be honest, I think most of us struggle with this. Bodies are not “one-size-fits-all” so we can’t all expect that every one of us who commonly wears a size X is going to fit into that the same size X. For me, personally, my primary struggles come as a result of my more athletic than average build. Big legs, big arms, broader back and shoulders in comparison to a smaller waist and bust. It’s always a challenge for me to find pants that have enough room in the legs without being too big in the waist; or shirts that aren’t baggy throughout the midsection, yet that can accommodate my large arms. And of course, there’s always the desire to avoid the “Fat Guy in a Little Coat” moment that comes with a broader build.

Retailers just don’t commonly make clothes that match athletic builds and conventional sizes then tend to follow – and don’t always work for every body.

This dress wouldn't have fit without a talented seamstress

This dress wouldn’t have fit without a talented seamstress

A wonderful real-life example of this happened to me last fall, when I was shopping for a bridesmaid dress. Beautiful style of dress, very fitted through the waist, legs and butt. Upon taking my measurements, the sales girl laughed a bit and said, “Well, your bust and waist are size 4…but your legs and butt are closer to a size 8. Wow, we usually don’t see that big a difference!” Thanks, lady. I’m well aware my body isn’t exactly proportionate or one that completely identifies with one size. Sigh, #athleteprobs.

I know I promised you a solution, not just bitching. Don’t worry, I’m getting there.

Now think about real life: Athletes have plenty of choices when it comes to training wearables. There are base layers and everyday workout clothes that stretch and move. You can buy shoes specific to your sport, your foot, your stride. There are even special undergarments and socks; all designed specifically for athletes’ bodies.

While it’s great to have an abundance of choice for workout clothes, what about everyday clothes? Most of us don’t make a living being athletes; we have normal jobs and normal lives where we wear normal clothes – that often don’t quite fit our not-exactly-average bodies.

So here’s my solution: I want clothing companies to take note and start designing clothes for the athletic body. Take pants for example. There’s slim-fit for those with thin builds, regular for “regular” and curvy for bodies that are bigger through the waist, hips butt and leg. But there’s really no option for those of us who embrace leg day and speedwork runs; those of us who could use a little extra room in the quads without the waist being so spacious. Imagine walking into a store, browsing the pants and having the choice of Regular, Slim-Fit, Curvy – and Athletic!

Or instead of shirts being simply Small, Medium and Large, maybe they could have an option that fits nice in the midsection but doesn’t look like you’re having an incredible hulk moment in the sleeves or the above-referenced “Fat Guy in a Little Coat” disaster. They could offer both “Regular” and “Muscular” cuts, kind of like how you can get pants in both Tall and Regular options!

I know I’m not the only one who has these struggles. Anyone else love the idea of clothing companies stepping up and making special options for athletes? Or if you’ve had a great #athleteprobs moment like me, comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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Inspiration, Encouragement and Therapy – Social Media’s Positive Side

“Strong people don’t put others down, they lift them up.”

Think about how different our lives would be without social media. It’s a game changer. We can find out what friends are doing at all hours of the day, catch up on news, post pictures and memories, and share our opinions on everything happening in someone else’s world. No doubt this open, say-and-do-anything virtual world offers a lot of advantages – but has an ugly side too.

Social media has gotten a bad rap when it comes to bullying. In fact, “cyber-bullying” is now a legit term for bully behavior that goes on within the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram world. Just as anyone with a keyboard and internet connection can utilize social media with good intentions, the bullies can post hateful comments, unflattering pictures of others, even exclude people from virtual groups or events. Sadly, it’s now easier than ever to cut others down and be mean just for the sake of being mean.

There's lots of positivity to be had on social media

There’s lots of positivity to be had on social media

But on the flip side, social media is also a wonderful avenue for spreading positivity and lifting up others. For me, personally, social media has been a source of therapy. Allow me to explain.

I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with health and fitness. In fact, for most of my 20s (and I admit, still a little bit here and there today), I struggled with anxiety over gym life and real life. Like many, I put on a few extra pounds in college and was a far cry from being a good example of healthy. Right before graduation, I decided it was time to clean up my act, drop a few pounds and feel better about myself. Once I started getting into the habit of working out, eating better and not drinking so much, all that happened. I looked better and felt better. In fact, I started getting a lot of comments on my new fitter, trimmer appearance. People seemed so much nicer and friendlier than when I wasn’t as fit.

Then it struck me – was I not as well-liked or accepted by others when I heavier? Would people’s attitude towards me change if I didn’t keep losing weight, or worse, if I gained some back? I quickly became addicted to exercise. I had a massive fear of gaining back all the weight I lost if I took off even one day from cardio. I prioritized the gym over everything – and everyone – else. But it didn’t end with the constant need to break a sweat. I started skipping out on fun events with friends because I was convinced I wasn’t thin enough to be out in public and, worse, those extra calories from a night of drinking would instantly make me fat. I was so self-conscious and anxious all the time about how I looked and how people would judge me based on that, not my personality. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for the man I had in my life. I damaged some relationships. I was even advised by someone very close to me to seek therapy.

Fast forward to now and I’m starting to get to a balanced place in my life. I’ve been working hard on this the past few years and it’s a daily process. But I’ve learned that it’s okay to take a day off from cardio (rest days really are necessary!) and I know I’m not going to gain weight because of it. I no longer blow off Sunday brunches or decline weekend getaways with girlfriends because Saturday is long run day and Sunday is heavy lift day. I accept that I’m not skinny and, shy of completely changing my workouts and eating perfect all the time, I’m never going to be.

While I didn’t seek out professional therapy, I’ve found social media to provide it in a strange way. I’ve managed to surround myself with a circle of really good people. They’re people I don’t know and will never meet but I see them as “friends”. We share like-minded goals and interests, and encourage each other – often in 140 characters or less. I follow fitness journeys, and see others facing my same struggles. I see people with different fitness abilities and levels, yet everyone’s always doing the best they can. These are the people who aren’t striving to compete with or be better than anyone else, just trying to be a little better than they were yesterday, and be happy. I see a lot of positivity exchanged. I see quotes and memes that reinforce the idea that nobody’s perfect nor should they strive to be.

Yes, there’s a lot of fake and negative stuff that happens on social media but there are also a ton of real people, good people and positivity. Just as you would surround yourself with good people in real life, find these people in your social media life too.
They’re free therapists and cheerleaders!

Can you relate to any this? Share your story in the comments or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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Fall Running At Its Finest

“Run for fun.”

This morning, I did something I haven’t done in a really long time. I ran a race purely for the enjoyment of it – and not for a time.

The Fargo Mini Marathon is an annual half marathon, 10k and 5k event put on by the good folks of Go Far Events (the company behind the Fargo Marathon and several other great races throughout the year in Fargo). Back in the day, the race used to be held downtown, with the course following the Red River and all the beautiful trails that are my favorite running trails. Plus, because it’s always an October race, the leaves are changing color and crunchy underfoot. The past couple years, however, the event moved to a newer part of town. No trees. No scenery. The race was still enjoyable and Go Far Events always puts on well-organized events but the course went from awesome to not great. Imagine my excitement when I discovered the event was headed back downtown this year! I knew I had to take advantage of running this beautiful course on a fall day (my favorite time to run) so I wanted to do the half – I just didn’t realize how quickly I’d have to get in shape to do so.

Sportin the all-important finisher shirt after I ran the half marathon

Sportin my finisher shirt after I ran the half marathon

Almost three weeks ago, the longest run I had done since my full marathon in May was about 6.5 miles. Fall is usually my racing season, where distance is not a concern, speed and shorter runs is my focus. That didn’t deter me from taking a leap and signing up for the half anyway. Less than three weeks til race day meant I had only two long runs to prepare (an 8-miler and an 11-miler) so I knew I wouldn’t be in my best shape to run the race of my life. So I decided to go out and just run for fun. Forget about my watch and enjoy the race for what it was – a beautiful day and a great course.

Now that being said, the overly competitive runner side of me came out a few times and I did push it a little bit! Despite some stomach troubles early on and a little pain in my hip around mile 10, I finished in 1:47:35, a time far from a PR but still pretty good! I loved the course, loved the spectators and volunteers, loved the fact I was given my finisher’s shirt after I actually finished the race and really loved the cookie dough handed out at the finish line hospitality table. Major win for Go Far Events and the Fargo Mini Marathon.

Do you usually run races with a specific time goal in mind or are you more of a “run just for fun” runner? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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A Letter Of Inspiration

“Nothing worthwhile is fast, easy or comes without work”

I have a friend who has done something incredible. It’s not something she did in a day, a few weeks or even several months. It’s something she has been doing more than a year and is continuing to do every day.

This woman, who I’ll call, MV, has lost more than 100 pounds. More impressive than that, she has done it the right way. No pills, starvation diets or unhealthy amounts of exercise, instead by making lifestyle changes and working hard to continue to make good choices every day.

Her remarkable journey is especially meaningful to me because I preach all the time about lifestyle and sustainability. Making changes like starting a fitness routine or eating better are great but, too often, people take too drastic an approach and can’t stick with it in the long run. Healthy changes have to be sustainable and fit into a lifestyle. Shows like The Biggest Loser feed into people’s misconceptions that they can and should be able to drop a ton of weight and get fit really fast. But what this show also proves is that sort of method isn’t sustainable, it’s not a lasting solution, as a majority of the contestants gain back some, even all their weight.

I want to recognize what she has done so I did in the best way I know how: I wrote her a letter. I’m sharing it here because I believe her story will inspire others and prove that, yes, it can be done.

Dear, MV:

You’re amazing. I had to say that first. You’ve done something great. Something admirable. Something most wouldn’t have the patience and dedication to do. You’ve made the decision to live a healthy lifestyle. Along the way, you’ve lost weight, gotten stronger and gained crazy amounts of energy and positivity. Best of all, you’ve done it the right way.

You’re a mother and a wife, you have a full time job, numerous social commitments and a family that lives 3 hours away. Yet, you never complain that you’re too busy to plan healthy meals. That you’re too tired to work out. That work sucked, you feel sluggish, you’re having a bad hair day, KJ kept you up late or any of about a million reasons you could use to excuse unhealthy choices. Sure, you may say all those things to yourself from time to time (let’s be honest, we all do) but you never say them aloud. Because once they’re said out loud, they’re out there and available for you to use as an excuse. Rather, I’ve only heard you preach positivity.

Then there’s the sheer weight loss and level of fitness you’ve achieved. Everyone wants to lose weight and be fit. They want a magic pill, a “super food”, a machine that just take 7 minutes a day, anything that equals fast. Achieving “health and fitness” is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time. It’s a long-term lifestyle, not a New Year’s Resolution. I admire so much how you’ve embraced this long-term, healthy approach. How you’ve stayed positive over the months and stayed motivated. Many would have thrown in the towel, given up and reverted back to the easy way. You didn’t.

Speaking of the “easy way”, just like most people want a fast solution to weight loss and fitness, most also want it to be easy. They don’t want to work for it. To earn it with sweat, time and dedication. Those who live a healthy lifestyle don’t bust their ass in the gym or “diet” for two weeks, then just expect it to be smooth sailing after that. They put in work and effort every day. Is it easier to watch TV after work vs. go to the gym? Of course. Is it easier to go to the drive thru vs. plan and prepare a healthy meal? Definitely. But you choose what’s right, not what’s easy.

I’ve used the words “choice” and “choices” a lot in this letter. That’s because being healthy is a choice. Being healthy isn’t a gift or a right. It’s not something we’re entitled to or deserve. It’s a choice. It’s a commitment and it’s work. Some days, the work is easy but most days, it’s hard. A year ago, you made the choice to be healthy, and every day since then, you’ve made about a million other choices to support that commitment to your health. As I’ve already said, a lot of those choices weren’t the easy ones or what you may have felt like doing. But you understand the small choices are really what matters in the big picture.

What you’ve done has no doubt inspired others and will continue to every day. Someone out there who has a long journey ahead and feels hopeless can see what you’ve accomplished and realize, yes, it can be done. I know, in your heart, you know you’re awesome and you’ve done something remarkable. I know ’re proud of yourself. And you should be. I want you to know that others are too. You deserve to hear it. You’ve earned it. Now keep kicking ass!

LB xoxo

Does this story inspire you? What would you say to MV? Comment below, tweet her @kjsfitmomma or follow her on Instagram for daily inspiration.

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My Recipe For Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes – Hell Yeah

It’s the first day of fall! I love this season for so many reasons, one of the obvious ones: PUMPKIN. Pumpkin Spice Coffeemate (sugar-free of course), pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin ravioli – there’s so much delish pumpkin, I have to make a conscious effort to consume it in an appropriate amount.

My tasty Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes

My tasty Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes

In honor of this glorious time of year, I’m excited to share a great pumpkin recipe of my own. Because breakfast foods are my absolute favorite, I give you Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes. I’ll add this to my Yum, Food page of recipes but, for now, here it is. Make up a batch and let me know what you think!

What You Need:
(Makes approx. 6-8 pancakes)
Vanilla Protein Powder – 1 scoop (I like V-Core)
Egg Whites – 2 (you can substitute one egg)
Canned Pumpkin – 1/4 cup
Unsweetened Applesauce – 1/4 cup
Skim Milk – 1 tbsp
Baking Powder – 1 tsp
Cinnamon – 1 tsp
Nutmeg – 1 tsp
Mini Chocolate Chips – 1-2 tbsp (optional – but mandatory for me)

Add your favorite toppings to make these even better

Add your favorite toppings to make these even better

Prep egg whites in a separate bowl, set aside
In large mixing bowl, combine protein powder, canned pumpkin and applesauce
Gently fold in egg whites
Add cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder, mix until well-blended
Mix in skim milk
Add chocolate chips, mix until all thoroughly combined

Cook over low-medium heat as you would normal pancakes then add your favorite toppings to finish em off! I’ve topped with applesauce, blueberries or, the classic, a little butter and sugar-free maple syrup. Did I mention YUM?

What’s your favorite fall recipe? Pumpkin or not, share with me! Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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