3 Ways to Survive Holiday Eating

“It’s all fun and games until your pants don’t fit.”

I have a confession. I’ve never been great at avoiding holiday indulgences. I love a little extra treat during the workday, eating foods I don’t normally at family gatherings, and trying new apps at parties. While I know the rule that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, sticking to workouts helps keep things in balance for this short period of time.

Speaking of balance and because I know I don’t have the discipline to stick to a clean eating plan, I instead focus my energy on at least keeping eating controlled. I’ve found three good tips for keeping things in check during the holiday season.

Don’t worry, these tips are not the typical:
“Drink a lot of water,” (duh, you should always drink a lot of water), or
“Limit indulging to one day per week,” (sure, if there was one day each week all the parties and all the snacks were limited to), or even
“Just take one bite and savor it,” (I’m not cutting off one bite of pumpkin pie and leaving a half-eaten piece in the pan. I’m not an asshole and that just sounds sad).

1. Eat – Yes, Eat
Remember Full House – not the new, hip one on Netflix – the original 90s, slightly awful yet fantastic series? DJ’s boyfriend, Steve, ate all the time, even before they went out to eat. He was a high school guy, an athlete, and surely had a high metabolism. Understood. However, he may have been way ahead of his time with smart eating moves.

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I’m never too far from my go-to snack.

It’s not a bad idea to eat before you head out to a gathering or other event. Not a full meal just something with protein or fiber so you’re not starving by the time you arrive. I don’t know about you, but when I’m really hungry, food that normally would not be appealing to me suddenly seems like something I need to mow down in handfuls.

But, Lindsay, I’m always on-the-go this time of year. I go from work to errands to parties. Don’t worry, I have a solution – keep a healthy snack nearby. I always have a snack in my purse; usually a Quest bar, sometimes an apple. Not only does this help prevent overeating, it keeps from being hangry. Tis the season of being merry and jolly, not hangry.

On a related note, this this time of year might be a good time to skip breakfast and lunch, and “save up” those calories for later, right? WRONG.

Skipping meals leads to lack of energy, for sure overeating, and did I mention hangry? No one wants to be or be around hangry.

2. Love, Not Like
This is one of my favorite rules. Basically, give yourself the okay to eat something unhealthy that you love but pass on the unhealthy foods you only like.

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Love puppy chow. LOVE it.

I personally LOVE puppy chow and make it every year during the Christmas season. It’s full of sugar and so high in calories but I can’t help but love it. And I just associate it with Christmas; it’s something we always made and had for the holidays.

Do I like peanut butter kiss cookies? Oh yeah. And fudge, and fruity punch, and peanut brittle? Sure. But I don’t love them. So I’ll usually pass on them.

3. Skip the Drama
I’ve noticed people treat Thanksgiving like it’s the only day, all year, they overeat, so it’s okay to go 100% full-bore, full food coma mode.

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Ditch drama – unless it’s the fun, party, photo booth kind.

C’mon, Thanksgiving isn’t the only day we overeat. Think birthday dinners, Fourth of July BBQs, Halloween parties, random Saturday nights – there’s always going to be a time we overeat. Remembering that makes it less likely to overindulge on the “it’s only once a year” rationale.

If I’m being honest, Thanksgiving wasn’t the only day I overate this year. In fact, it wasn’t the only day I overate that week, so, yeah…

So can we all just agree to get over the holiday eating guilt? You’re gonna overeat and have treats. It’s okay. Rather than feel guilty and have the whole, “Well, I might as well give up,” conversation in your head, acknowledge it, get over it, and get back on track next meal.

More than anything, I think enjoying the holidays while still fitting into clothes really just boils down to mindful eating and balanced eating. It sounds simple but it’s not that simple. So, as it is the season of big family meals, treats in the workplace, boozy weekday parties, and excess in general, hopefully these tips help keep things in check.

What’s your best tip for getting through the holiday food fest without having to miss out? Comment or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311.

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What Happened When I Stopped Running

“Guess who’s back? Back again. Lindsay’s back. Tell a friend.”

Today I got to do something I’ve been waiting weeks to do. I layered up, laced up, and hit the pavement, Burton by my side, for a chilly and wonderful 3-mile run. 

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What are you trying to tell me?

I’m back! Oh, running, I’ve missed you so.

Everything felt great. Even my pace, an average of 8:15, was comfortable, far better than I expected. I wanted to run for 10 miles but chose to play it smart and keep it short – tho I did sneak in another half mile around the neighborhood with Blitz so she could get in on the fun too.

Yes, today ends The Great Experiment. It has been four weeks filled with change, discovery, and learning.

On the one hand, it has been four weeks – an eternity for someone who doesn’t like to go more than two days without a run. On the other hand, it has been four weeks – in the grand scheme, really not that long. Looking at both sides, here’s what I took from those four weeks with no running. The results of The Great Experiment.

Four weeks is long enough…

…To notice change in mental health
Although it has been small, I have noticed a slight dip in my mood from not running. Maybe that’s due to rapidly decreasing daylight. Maybe that’s due to some busy weeks at work. Either way, I have noticed I’m off…just a little bit.

This was actually the most refreshing surprise of my time away from running. So many people have asked me how I’m doing and rightfully so. I imagined it would be a nightmare. But, as much as I’ve missed running and totally been “THAT” person who stares a little too long when I see someone running, it hasn’t been too bad!

…To try something new
Between SpinSanity, JoeFitness, and gaining a small amount of grace on the Stairmaster, I’ve taken great advantage of this break from running in terms of stepping outside my normal routine to try new things.

While four weeks might not be long enough to see the results of trying something new, it’s still plenty of time to do the work.
 

…To heal
For the first time in months, I feel strong and healthy. The pain in my right arch is barely nagging. And short of a hard leg day with tons of deadlifts, the stiffness and soreness in my hamstrings is no longer there.

If you had a significant injury, four weeks wouldn’t be enough time to heal it. But for a girl whose body was so burned out on running and crying for relief, it was just the right amount of time.

 
Four weeks is not long enough…

…To see much change in physical appearance
The past four weeks, I focused most of my workouts on strength with cardio a secondary focus. And I don’t think I look any different. Still have a big, muscular lower half, a belly with some jiggle, and a strong upper body. Boobs haven’t grown back either. My clothes still fit the same as always, too.

Now, I will say my body feels a little different. I feel a little more bloated and heavy. My eating habits haven’t changed, which has been a surprise in itself – figured my appetite would resume to that of a normal person by now. I’ve chalked that up to the lifting and continued cardio keeping my metabolism high. What has changed is my body’s natural rhythm in, shall we say, getting rid of excess food not used in the gym. You know what I’m saying.

…To make significant fitness gains
Similar to physical appearance, I don’t feel I made major strength gains. While I feel good and strong, I’m not crushing 160-pound squats or moving past the 35-pound dumbbells.

That being said, my leg workouts have seen notable improvement. No longer worried about overdoing it with running and leg workouts, I’ve been able to focus my full attention on rehab for those muscles.

…To make significant fitness losses
My high school dance coach used to tell us that, in one week of not training, you lose 25% of your fitness level. Go two weeks without, you lose half of your fitness level.

Coach, I think you lied to us. I think you were trying to justify practices over the summer and holiday breaks. And rightfully so, we were a bunch of undisciplined high school kids that needed to keep the mental focus more than the physical training. I understand why you did it.

I believe coach’s theory was flawed, at least for me. My run today is proof. Yes, I limited myself to three miles, just to be on the safe side. Could I have kept running another two, three, even four miles and suffered no injury? Very likely, yes. Also, my pace had not suffered. Cross-training no doubt helped me keep my endurance, lifting kept my muscles strong, and the combination kept my mental game on point.

What I learned from this is keeping health and fitness a regular priority leads to a stronger body and mind, overall. Taking a break, even a long-ish one like mine, isn’t enough to erase years of consistency.

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Can’t wait to add a few more to the collection.

I think that’s probably my biggest takeaway from The Great Experiment. I may have placed too high a value on running as the overwhelmingly leading contributor to my mental health, physical strength, all of it. It’s really more about the overall lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to; making time for strength, cardio, and mindfulness, to reap all the benefits.

Don’t get me wrong, tho – I’m giddy to be back with my BFF running. So excited to jump in with some cold winter running and, very soon, start official training for full marathon number nine in May.

p.s. My oldest brother and I may or may not have registered for Chicago Marathon 2017 last week. So any chance that I’d come back from this break not super eager for all things running…yeah, no.

Curious about any of the workouts I tried during The Great Experiment? Or do you have a similar story of stepping outside your normal fitness routine to try something different? Comment below or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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Eat, Drink & Be Lazy on Thanksgiving

“Happiness is eating too much, then taking a nap.”

It’s a special holiday-themed blog this week, celebrating one of my favorites: Thanksgiving.

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Burton & my bro-in-law know how it’s done.

Ah, Thanksgiving. A lazy person’s dream holiday. A rare one that forgoes typical holiday annoyances of cards, gift-giving, and general over-the-top retail obnoxiousness. A day meant only for football, family, food, and falling asleep on the couch. Throw in some fat pants and you’ve got yourself a great holiday.

There are, however, reasons why this holiday comes with some unique annoyances all its own (see above, food and fat pants). To really expand on this, I’d like to share a blog from last year, one that sums up my feelings on the way food and exercise are often treated this time of year.

Please read, share on Facebook and Twitter if you enjoy, and no matter what, remember the point: Food Isn’t Bad. Exercise Isn’t Bad. You’re Not Bad. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

And as always, be sure to share your thoughts on the topic. Leave a comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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3 Things I Learned at JoeFitness

“I have no idea what’s going to happen. And I love it.”

As The Great Experiment continues (for those of you who are new to the blog, it’s my four week break from running), I’ve been using my newfound free workout time to mix up my routine, lift more, let my muscles rest, and, most importantly, try new workouts.

This week’s adventure: the full mix of workouts – Kickboxing, Bootcamp, and Strength Training – from JoeFitness.

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Where the magic happens

I’ve known Joe since our days working together at a local gym. I always respected Joe for his knowledge and approach. Then I had the opportunity to work out with him and, holy shit. 10 years later, I still remember having sore abs for two weeks.

While I like Joe’s style and trust that he and his wife/co-trainer, Jill know their stuff, I’ve never been a member of or worked out at their gym. With my constant focus on running, always in race training mode, I could never quite figure out when it would make sense for me to fit his workouts into my regimen.

The upside to my running sabbatical that I was most looking forward to was the chance to finally work out at JoeFitness. This past week, I supplemented a few of my regular gym days with his classes. And I loved it.

Here are the three things I learned during a week at JoeFitness.

30 Minutes or Less
No, I’m not talking about pizza. Although I could really go for some pizza…

I’m referring to an ass-kicking, sweat-inducing, utterly-fatiguing workout can be accomplished in less than 30 minutes. For someone who considers one-hour-plus workouts to be my best of the week, purely based on the time factor, this was pretty refreshing.

p.s. 30 minutes in Joe’s class went by faster than 10 minutes of regular cardio on the bike, EFX, or Stairmaster. Oh I loathe the Stairmaster.

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How can you not feel great about a workout that includes putting on these bad boys?

Kicking and Punching Not Frowned Upon
Joe’s Kickboxing class, the first one I tried, was tough – but also, really fun. Sometimes the best part of a good run is to relieve stress or even anger. That was one of the things I was concerned about with giving it up for four weeks. But I discovered, if you’re angry and then go to a class where you get to punch and kick things, you’ll feel better.

Plus, it kinda makes you feel like a badass. Speaking of, there were two sets of the workout where we got to spar with Joe. That was the coolest.

 
It’s Good to Feel Out of Shape
You know how it goes when you feel like you’re in good shape, then you try something new and you suddenly feel horribly out of shape? That sucks, right?

But this week made me realize that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, we get too comfortable with what we know and what we do well, then forget what it’s like to have a workout absolutely kick our ass.

For the record, yes, I am stating that working out at JoeFitness made me feel horribly out of shape.

 
Those are three things I learned.
And now, three things I already knew that have been confirmed.

 
Aggressive Sweating
During an interview this summer with my favorite runner, Carrie Tollefson, another of my favorite runners, Shalane Flanagan, revealed that her coach has described her as an “aggressive sweater.” Not only did this NOT gross me out, it made me love Shalane even more. You see, I too sweat more than the average person.

Within the first three minutes of Joe’s Kickboxing and two minutes of Bootcamp, I was sweating. And with all workouts, I left Joe’s drenched in sweat. Especially 5:30 a.m. Bootcamp. My whole drive home was uncomfortable.

I Haven’t Lost It
Not to brag but I’m a pretty awesome dancer. I was a member of danceline throughout junior high and high school where my natural coordination was put to good use.

Although it would be quite an asset in Zumba and other classes requiring said coordination, I’ve never been a fan of organized classes and such workouts so my coordination skills aren’t really tested much anymore. However, I was pleased to see I hadn’t lost that when shuffling through Joe’s workout stations. I did struggle right away with some of the complex, powerlifting moves in Strength class but once I got the hang of it, I felt nice and smooth.

 
Following Directions Takes Effort
Just as quickly as I was proud of my coordination, I realized how much my “read-and-follow-directions” skills are lacking. And perhaps it’s why I tend to shy away from classes and do my own thing in the gym.

Joe’s workouts featured five to 15 stations, each with a different exercise game plan. In Kickboxing, for example, upon arriving at each station, one is required to look at the plan and do what’s on the sheet or whiteboard. A few times, I may or may not have failed to read and follow directions, and instead just start doing something that felt right. Joe and Jill, being the attentive leaders they are, were quick to point out and correct me each of these times.

To sum up, this past week of non-running has been my favorite. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I barely experienced any feelings of FOMOR. As I was leaving Joe’s today, I mentioned this to Jill, and thanked both her and Joe for the great experience – and in advance for my sore abs I’ll surely have tomorrow.

Now all I need to do is figure out how I can make this a more regular part of my workout routine!

 
Fargo friends, have you tried JoeFitness? I highly recommend you do – then let me know what you think. Especially this time of year when the weather sucks, it’s dark, and motivation can just be lacking, it’s a great chance to get in gear.

Non-Fargo peeps, do you regularly do or have you done HIIT, bootcamp-style, or kickboxing classes? What types are your favorites? Comment below or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311.

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Don’t Wait Til New Years – Get Going Now

“It sure has been a long week…” – Me, on Tuesday.

Is it just me or does the classic mid-week slump seem to come earlier in the week this time of year? I blame Daylight Savings Time and slow, diminishing minutes of sun every day.

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See ya, wedding season. Holiday party season has begun.

I know I’m not alone; it’s typically hard to stay motivated this time of year – for everything, including workouts. But there’s no reason to let yourself slack, even with all the Friendsgivings, Christmas parties, and shopping distractions starting to hit. In fact, it’s even more crucial to make time for workouts to keep holiday stress under control.

More important than that is the impeding New Year’s Resolution madness is just six weeks away. Less than two months until the overcrowding of cardio machines, squat racks, and bikes in the cycling studio. You don’t really want to try to get things going again amidst all that shenanigans, do you?

If you’re like me and need a little added kick in the ass this time of year, I have five tips for making sure workouts don’t slide prior to the New Year’s rush – Daylight Savings Time and holidays be damned!

 
Get Fresh
Aside from fewer hours of daylight, workout boredom is a major threat to a workout routine this time of year. Fall race season is over and spring break is a long ways off, plus the busy holiday season approaching all seem to make it easy to put workouts on autopilot or forgo them completely. Now is the perfect time to freshen things up.

Many of you know I’m in the midst of a four-week break from running. While Saturday mornings have been the toughest adjustment, I have to say, overall I’m actually enjoying the switch up to my routine. I’ve been lifting more often and with more variety, I’ve tried out new classes, like SpinSanity, and am starting to gain some grace and control on the Stairmaster – emphasis on “some.”

So set a new goal. Try a new class. Brave the 5 a.m. crowd vs. your usual 5 p.m. workout time. Just change it up.

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My buddy Trav – we don’t actually run together but we motivate each other via the wonderful world of social media.

Buddy Up
Speaking of trying new things, I know it can be intimidating to try anything new at the gym. Take that SpinSanity class I tried last week; I likely wouldn’t have tried it without my go-to workout pal, Heidi. And I sure as hell wouldn’t have jumped out of bed at 4:50 a.m. like a pop-tart had she not been waiting for me, counting on me to show up. We’ve already made a date for our next new class adventure.

The Workout Buddy System can’t be hyped enough as one of the best ways to stay motivated. And if you don’t have one at your gym, find one online. Seriously. You may not be able to gut through spin class together but can hold each other accountable to do what you said you would.

 
Schedule It
A dentist appointment. A meeting with your boss. Hump day happy hour. What do these all have in common? They’re scheduled engagements that you likely don’t decide to skip last-minute. Why should a workout be any different?

I’m a huge fan of scheduling workouts early in the week. This is good for accountability, plus it gives you a plan of action.

 
Eat Well
Yum, food. I love it. And this time of year there are a lot more opportunities for sweets, treats, and overindulgence in general. That’s why now it’s more important than ever to practice planned eating and moderation.

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Tis the season of sweets & treats everywhere.

I admit, this one is toughest for me. But I know that when I eat like crap, I feel sluggish and am actually less motivated to work out – you’d think poor eating would make me feel motivated and energized to hit the gym but it’s not the case at all. Keep the focus on food is fuel, with the best stuff going in to produce best results in the gym. And, if you do overdo it, get over it and move on. No burpees required.

 
Mind Control
Not like, Jedi mind control here, I’m talking about simple mindfulness and mindset tactics.

Remember, just because it feels like 9:00 when you leave work at 5:15 p.m. doesn’t mean it actually is. I know it seems like the middle of the night when the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. but it’s not. There are still 24 hours in every day and the same 24 hours exist whether it’s June or November. Use them the same as you would. And, you can never remind yourself enough how much better your mood improves when you work out vs. slip into sweats and become the couch commando for an extra hour or two every night.

 
What tips do you have for staying motivated this time of year? Do you tend to ease up or try to work harder in prep for the New Years Resolution madness? Comment below or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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Runners Cast Your Vote: Distance or Speed

“He’s going the distance. He’s going for speed.”

There’s an important topic that has been discussed and debated by runners. Even non-runners weigh in with their opinions on the issues from time to time.

As there’s another relatively important debate and vote going on – which, p.s. I’m beyond thrilled to be over – I thought it a perfect time to lay out each candidate and their stance on the issues, and let you, the readers, cast your vote.

Decision 2016: Which is better – Distance or Speed?

The Issue: Health

The Candidate: Distance

The Argument: How many times have you heard the cautionary tale that Distance running destroys your body? This statement, on its own, is simply not true. So many factors go into a person who has bad knees or weak hips or any of the other problems for which Distance running gets the quick and easy blame. These ailments aren’t caused by running alone; sure, they can be irritated by poor form, incorrect shoes, overtraining and lack of recovery work.

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This type of elation at Mile 18. Yep.

Distance running is great for both physical and mental health. From weight management to heart health to meditation qualities, the health benefits achieved by distance running are tough to beat.

The Candidate: Speed

The Argument: Speed doesn’t get the bad rap like it’s opponent, Distance. However, Speed work can be harder on the body than Distance. That doesn’t mean Distance is the winner here. Speed runners simply need to take care they’re fueling and recovering well, not overtraining or pushing the pace with every workout, and listening to their bodies to stay in-tune and healthy.

And like Distance, Speed running is also great for physical and mental health. From increased metabolism to strong muscles to stress relief, the health benefits achieved by Speed running are awesome.

The Issue: Time

The Candidate: Distance

The Argument: In terms of sheer running workouts, Distance runners are going to put in more time. Obviously. There’s really no angle or alternative argument to make here on the pure running side of the debate.

In terms of cross-training, Distance runners need to put in time here too, as well as to recovery and rest. While strength training is important for Distance, I’ve found there isn’t the same amount of time and energy to devote to it, as compared to a runner not heavily focused on mileage.

The Candidate: Speed

The Argument: While Speed running workouts are shorter than their Distance counterparts, the time factor doesn’t end there.

In order to be their best, Speed runners typically put in more time with the weights. They also put in their hours cross-training, recovering, and resting.

The Issue: Pride

The Candidate: Distance

The Argument: There’s really no feeling like finishing a long Distance race. Whether half marathon or full, the amount of energy, tears, and emotions that go into the weeks or months training are matched by those same emotions in a condensed time span on race day.

Distance running is an accomplishment, not just at the finish line, but every long, hard run that goes into getting there.

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These moments take a lot of work. Worth it.

The Candidate: Speed

The Argument: Running fast is an amazing combination of exhilaration and exhaustion. Like it’s opponent, Speed also boasts the feeling of crossing the finish line. Even better, winning a race, placing in the top of the pack or setting a personal PR are all feelings unlike any other.

Speed running takes impressive grit and the ability to dig deep – really deep – to achieve the final goal.
You’ve heard the issues at hand and the arguments from both candidates. Now, it’s time to cast your vote. Which is the victor: Speed or Distance? Comment below with your choice and why, or tweet me your vote @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

Are there other issues and arguments you’d like to see explored? Again, post a comment or always, ALWAYS tweet me your feedback! And please share this post on Facebook or Twitter with other runners who might enjoy.

 

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The Great Running Experiment

“What’s crazier than running? NOT running.”

Well, it’s happening. Something so crazy, so nutso, so out of character for me, I’m not sure whether to be scared, nervous, stressed – so I’m going to be all of them.

Starting today, I’m taking a full four weeks off from running.

No running.
No running for four weeks.
No running for almost an entire month.

Holy shit.

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When your recovery stuff is used daily, it becomes part of the decor.

You might be asking, would I do this? First off, I can’t remember the last time I took more than a few days off from running. Other than a 6-week bout with plantar fasciitis more than 5 years ago, I can’t remember ever taking off more than a week from running ever. Even after running full marathons, I’d be hitting the pavement the next week.

p.s. That 6 weeks I had plantar fasciitis and couldn’t run was awful. So, yeah.

But that’s not the reason I’m taking this hiatus. Honestly, my body has been struggling since my peak Boston Marathon training last spring and I just haven’t given it the break that I think it desperately needs. My hamstrings keep taking turns on which one decides to be a problem child. My arches need more massaging than ever. And I’m getting so sick of foam rolling, I keep “forgetting” to do it.

Yes, it’s time to take a break. This will allow me time to focus on strengthening my legs back to normal squatting, deadlifting and other fun PRs I had last year. It will also force me to change up workouts in general. It will give me a chance to focus on growing upper body lifting by not erasing my work or flat-out exhausting my endurance from all the running.

And, it will be an interesting experiment – The Great Experiment – as to how my body feels, how it reacts, if my appetite changes, what I’m going to do with that time, all of it. I’m also very interested in how it’s going to go when I start up again in December, and ramp up soon after for my annual tradition of running the Fargo Marathon in May. My hope is the break will allow my legs to recharge and reenergize, and I’ll be stronger.

While my body is onboard with this experiment, my mind is not. It’s not even close. I’m borderline scared for my mental health and that’s not a joke or me being a drama queen. So much in fact I’ve warned my husband multiple times that I might be cranky, mopey or just downright unbearable some days or for the entire month.

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Perhaps my appetite will reduce to that of a normal person.

That’s the thing about running for me. It’s so much more than cardio, physical exercise and a means to eat a lot of food (I love food). It’s my sanity. It’s my meditation time. It’s my stress relief. It’s like food (yes, we’re back to food THAT quickly), I crave it. Running is just as much a mental need as it is a physical one.

It’s going to be a tough few weeks. And just as people use social media to hold themselves accountable for doing their workouts, I’m using mine, and the blog, to hold myself accountable for NOT running. You won’t catch me trying to sneak in, “just one” run. Or rationalize, “I’ll only do one mile.” None of those shenanigans. This is all in!

So that brings in more help I need from you. In addition to sharing a few woes about my non-running status, what should I blog about in November; new topics I haven’t yet explored? Or are there any great workouts, lifting routines or unique types of cardio I should try? This is my time to grow and expand my fitness life so all ideas are welcome! Comment below or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311.

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