What Do These Health & Fitness Terms Mean?

“WTF are you talking about?”

This week continues my new series of answering health and fitness questions on the blog. And, I admit, this blog idea came more from a personal experience and question of my own versus a direct one I had been asked at one time or another.

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Our dedicated shaker cabinet for all-things supplements, like BCAAs.

One day, I heard my husband talking about taking his BCAAs. Naturally, I first assumed this was some sort of grown-up, finance-industry version of the SATs.

I was wrong. BCAA stands for branch chain amino acids. It’s a supplement he, like many who lift weights, takes to promote muscle growth.

Then I started thinking about all the health and fitness terms I (and we all) throw around every day. And how said terms can be really confusing to those new or not really in the health and fitness world. So here begins the next health and fitness Q&A.

Q: What does (insert obscure fitness term) mean?

A: In addition to BCAAs, here are 9 commonly-thrown-around, yet not-commonly-understood terms in the health and fitness world.

1. DOMS
An acronym like BCAAs, but you’ll rarely hear anyone actually use the term, “DOMS.” What you may hear about is people referring to what it means: delayed onset muscle soreness.

As I often do, allow me to explain with a story:
Lindsay works with Jake.
Lindsay and Jake both like to lift weights.
Lindsay and Jake are both over 30.
Lindsay does a heavy leg lift and brags to Jake the next morning at a staff meeting that she doesn’t even feel sore.
Lindsay discovers the harsh reality of life the following day when she can’t go down stairs, bend down, or sit without grimacing in pain.
Jake laughs at Lindsay because he too finds himself in this situation often.

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Hard a.m. workouts then an afternoon on the hill means serious DOMS is coming.

Especially as we get older, post-lift muscle soreness often comes at us later and hits us harder. This phenomenon of peak soreness coming 36 or even 48 hours after a lift: delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS.

2. Fartlek
A serious running term, this one still makes me giggle.

Fartlek is a training style of running that’s similar to intervals. It’s defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slow running.

3. Gains
In the health and fitness world, you’d think people talking about gains would be a bad thing. People work out to lose weight, not gain, right?

When you hear people talking about gains in a good way, they’re referring to growing muscle mass.

4. HIIT
I promise, this is the last acronym. This one, pronounced, “Hit” just like it looks, stands for high intensity interval training.

It’s a shorter workout (hence it’s growing popularity) that alternates short bursts of super-high intensity work with short periods of recovery work.

5. Macros
This is one you’ll only hear when you’ve gotten really immersed in health and fitness, and especially in weights. Or, you’ve achieved full meathead status, you’ll find you’re the one who can’t shut up about counting them.

Macros refer to macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fat. It’s the balance of these macronutrients that make up total caloric goals.

6. Negative Splits
You may be crossing your legs in pain, imagining what negative splits means. Ease up, it has nothing to do with flexibility or lack thereof.

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Far from my best 5k time but I was pumped about my negative splits.

Races or training runs are often viewed in halves – the first X miles, then the second half, the same number of miles. As one might imagine, it’s common to run fast in the first half, then lose some steam and be a bit slower in the second. Negative splits is the opposite, when the second half of a run is faster than the first.

7. Quinoa
Pronounced, “keen-wah” this food has been buzzed about for years after being introduced as the newest, hottest superfood. It’s rich in fiber, protein, and iron, and has all kinds of health benefits.

Not only is it good for you, it’s good. We often eat it mixed with rice and veggies. One of the golden rules in the health industry is, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Quinoa is the exception to rule – although now you know how to pronounce it!

8. Rest
I know, I know. Everyone knows what rest is. The confusion comes when a non-gym person hears a workout enthusiast griping about a rest day. Why, you might ask, would anyone be complaining about resting?

Rest is tough. Especially when training hard, it’s tempting to keep that fire lit and work out day after day after day. But equally important to any fitness regime – and especially when training hard – is a full rest day to recharge. Rest also comes into play in terms of actual sleep, as hard workouts demand more sleep.

9. Spinning
Back in the day, the only spins I heard about were attached to the word, “bed” and after a night of drinking too much wine.

In the health and fitness world, this is just another term for cycling, typically used when referring to cycling class.

There you have it. Now when your fit friends are talking about doing a HIIT workout or hoping for negative splits in their next half marathon, you can chime in about how you’re stoked about your gains. Actually, don’t say that. That’s really one you say to yourself, never out loud.

Don’t forget to submit your health and fitness questions to be answered on the blog. Leave a comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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Cycling – On Carbs & On a Bike

“Everyone longs to hear those three special words – I have food”

Tis the season for love, hearts, flowers, and all that crap. I’ve never been a Valentines Day lover or hater – but let’s just say, any holiday that encourages the giving and eating of chocolates is good in my book.

Tis the season for something else, even more exciting. Something big happened last week. It was a busy but normal day; I worked a little later than usual and was packing up to leave just after 5:30. I felt an instant drop in my mood, knowing it would be dark outside, as it often is by 5:00 in the winter. But, to my pleasant surprise, it was still light out! The tide has turned, folks, and we’re on the upswing to more daylight.

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Up bright – err, dark – and early to hit Cyclebar.

Conversely, it’s still dark AF in the morning. That’s not changing any time soon. I notice this every day when I leave for work but really thought deeper about it when I was up super early to check out a class at the new cycling studio in town, Cyclebar. Whoever came up with the phrase, “Bright and early,” must have a different idea of what early means.

Back to cycling class – this is just crazy right? Me trying a new workout, what? I know, I know I’ve blogged about numerous new workouts in the past two months – and that doesn’t even count Snowga (that’s an outdoor yoga class in the snow) that I tried two Saturdays ago with my fit friend, Heather.

Anyway, the truly crazy part about my excitement over trying out Cyclebar is that I strongly dislike biking (yes, me the triathlete) and really despise cycling class (I took one spin class in my life and swore I’d never put myself through that again).

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Cyclebar Fargo

But, like the Spinsanity class I tried during my running sabbatical, word on the street was that Cyclebar’s spin classes were different – challenging, even. As someone always up for a good fitness challenge and the fact I’d have my work BFF, Jessi, by my side, I was eager to give it a shot. The result: I was pleasantly surprised at how much more I enjoyed this class than a typical spin class.

To give you the Cliff Notes version, Cyclebar mixed up intervals with climbing with light weight lifting to keep things moving along and interesting. Class participant stats were projected on the big screen a few times during the class so, for those of us with competitive sides, that also kept intensity up.

On another cycling note, for the past five weeks, I’ve been experimenting with another, very different kind of cycling – carb cycling. While far from well-versed in the strategy, the concept basically entails switching between high, mid and low-carb days, both as a weight management strategy and one to properly fuel and recover from workouts.

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A current low-carb version of pizza I’m loving.

I’ll dedicate a full blog to this, as I feel it warrants one. Just to give a quick preview and, again, taking a Cliff Notes approach, this experience has taught me a couple things. One, I’ve just entered marathon training season, so there isn’t going to be much opportunity for cycling of carbs – that, or my carb cycling will look very different than the average person.

Two, and in the spirit of the season of love, I love carbs. LOVE them.

Have you tried carb cycling? Or if you’re interested in learning more, what questions do you have? Post a comment or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311 and I’ll do my best to address now or in an upcoming blog.

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Behind the Scenes Running 26.2 Miles – Part 1: What to Expect

“Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles”

Who’s training for a marathon this year?
Who’s thinking about training for a marathon this year?
Who’s for sure not training for a marathon this year…but maybe, possibly might end up training for a marathon this year?

All of you, especially if you’re a first-timer, my new three-part blog mini-series is just for you.

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Excuse the poor photo quality – throwin it back to my first marathon

In this mini-series, I’m going to take you through a marathon – all 26.2 miles. Along the way, I’m going to tell you what to expect, how to train for it, and how to embrace, enjoy, or just get through it on race day.

If you’re planning to run your first marathon and wondering what to expect when running those 26.2 miles, tips for how to train for a marathon, and preparing for the big race day, I hope you enjoy this series.

For those of you on the fence or slightly terrified, please read on and let this help calm your fears – or at least put them in front of your face to punch back.

Now, the first in the three-part series: What to expect when running a marathon.

The Start Line

What to expect
People. Everywhere. From fellow athletes and pace leaders to race officials and spectators, the area will be full of people.

How to train for it
Coming soon!

What to do on race day
Coming soon!

 
Mile Markers 1-4

What to expect
The crowd will be thick and adrenaline high. You’ll be excited and may feel tempted to push your pace to get around people or, simply because you feel great.

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The early miles are full of energy and people, people everywhere

How to train for it
Coming soon!

What to do on race day
Coming soon!

 
Mile Markers 5-8

What to expect
You should feel good and strong, likely having settled into a comfort pace. The crowd, while thinner now, will still be fairly close together.

And if you’re running a race that has a four-person relay, you’ll hit the first relay exchange point in this mileage block. Expect a ton of spectators (feed off their energy), possibly some minor congestion (runners will be switching in and out), and a sudden burst of faster runners around you (the newbs that just hit the course).

How to train for it
Coming soon!

What to do on race day
Coming soon!

 
Mile Markers 9-13

What to expect
It’s unlikely fatigue will have set in yet. Those of you who have run a half marathon will likely notice how much better you feel now, compared to how you feel at this point in a half marathon. You should feel mentally good that you trained hard and are poised to hit the second half of your race, and physically up to the task.

How to train for it
Coming soon!

What to do on race day
Coming soon!

 
Mile Markers 14-16

What to expect
Mentally, this is a good place, as you’ll know you’re more than halfway there. That said, slight fatigue may start to set in with your legs, glutes, even your upper body, especially if the weather is significantly different than what you’ve trained in. Upside, you’ve likely seen some really great running signs by this point – and there are more to come.

How to train for it
Coming soon!

What to do on race day
Coming soon!

 

Mile Markers 17-19

What to expect
I’m gonna give you the bad news first – these three miles are often the most mentally-tough ones of the race. You’re far enough in now that you’ll be feeling some fatigue, yet you feel so far from the finish line.

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This is a tough point in the race so dig deep

The good news, though, is if you haven’t yet had any issues with stomach trouble, you’re likely not going to as long as you stay properly hydrated. High-fives for successfully avoiding the port-a-potties!

How to train for it
Coming soon!

What to do on race day
Coming soon!

 
Mile Markers 20-26

What to expect
You’ll feel tired. You’ll find yourself wondering why you signed up to do this. You’ll be tempted to walk or stop altogether.

How to train for it
Coming soon!

What to do on race day
Coming soon!

 
The Finish Line

What to expect
Emotions and extremes. You may cry, you may laugh; you may feel a burst of energy or like you’re going to pass out. Either way, you can’t help but feel pride. I don’t care if it’s your first marathon or tenth. It’s an incredible accomplishment that comes with an incredible feeling.

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The finishing stretch – very few moments in life beat this one

How to train for it
Coming soon!

What to do on race day
Coming soon!

Now you have an idea what to expect throughout the 26.2 miles of a marathon. If you’re still in, awesome. Next month, watch for Part 2 in this series that will remind you what to expect and offer specific tips for how to train for it.

If you’re training now and can’t wait, feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter with your questions or other comments.

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A Runner’s Review of Patriots Day – the Movie and 2016

“Boston Strong”

This isn’t the blog I planned to write this week. In fact, it’s not a blog I planned to write at all.

Yesterday I went to the movie, Patriots Day. Those of you who don’t want to read this full blog, I’ll give you the fast review: It’s a very well-done movie and I would recommend seeing, especially in the theater.

If this movie had been nothing more than a cinematic adventure, not based on actual events, it would have been entertaining; a film that creates within the viewer a mix of suspenseful, terrifying, and uplifting feelings.

But we all know this wasn’t just a movie. It happened.
Less than four years ago, it happened.
On a city’s holiday, it happened.
At one of the greatest sporting events in history, it happened.

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Getting this bib & wearing this shirt is still one of my biggest honors.

I knew this. I assumed, as a runner and one fortunate enough to have run the Boston Marathon, the movie would have special significance to me. But I didn’t realize the full impact of the event, outside of the running bubble; I didn’t’ realize how much of the story I didn’t know.

The drama that surrounded the manhunt and capture of the Boston Marathon bombers was much more elaborate, dramatic, and horrifying than I remembered. Part of the reason was the fact I was in Wichita when it happened, working long days, outside, with limited access to TV, social media, and news in general. Or maybe part of that was a lot of the details weren’t made public.

Either way, seeing Patriots Day affected me more than most movies ever have, as more than a runner.

Of course, as a runner, I was saddened and furious anyone would take away the joy, pride, and achievement that comes with running a marathon.

As a human, I was sickened and pissed off anyone would carry out these deliberate acts of violence against other humans.

And as a person instilled with the value to always be kind to others, I was confused and disgusted by how the bombers seemed so aloof and unaffected by their behavior. I mean, they argued over who “got” to shoot the gun and who got first dibs to drive the carjacked vehicle the way my brothers and I argued over who got first dibs to lick the spoon after making brownies.

As much as the movie affected the human and even runner side of me, it strongly affected the Boston Marathon runner side of me. Yet, for that, I have no words.

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The only race photo I took – the start line. Chills!

I felt so many emotions during the race scenes of the movie. The start line at Hopkinton, the smiling faces of other runners, the famous blue and yellow finish line banners, the mile 25 stretch past Fenway Park, and the final chute down Boylston Street. It brought back so many wonderful memories for me. Happy, pride-filled memories that quickly turned to emotions of anger and fury when the scene switched to the bombers, plotting and carrying out their act.

It also brought back other memories. Seeing armed guards on a building roof outside the start line. Hearing Chris had to go through numerous security checkpoints to get from our hotel, near mile 23, to see me run by at mile 25, to finding me at the finish line. Thinking about, how I finished the race around 2:40 the afternoon I ran and finding out the bombs went off just before 3:00 the day it actually happened. That especially I couldn’t stop thinking about.

As much as the violence was directed at the marathon’s runners, volunteers, and spectators, the actual race was a relatively small part of the full story. The hunt for the bombers went on for days after Patriots Day, during which time they incited more fear and horror. This was the part that I didn’t know much about up until seeing the movie and why I’m glad the story is out there for people to know; I’m glad to know.

Seeing Patriots Day, I also learned more about the meaning behind Boston Strong. The movie really hit on how Boston and its neighboring cities came together and supported each other in the aftermath of the attacks. img_6949

Knowing what everyone went through is one thing; “seeing” it (and I know it was just a movie but I feel like it was a very good representation of what actually happened) was powerful.

It makes every volunteer, every spectator, and every “Boston Strong” sign I encountered on race day more significant. I never thought my gratitude for experiencing the race and the city on Patriots Day could be greater. But it is now.

Have you seen Patriots Day? How did it make you feel – not just runners, I’m asking all of you. Comment below or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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Your Health and Fitness Questions – Answered

“There are no stupid questions because stupid people don’t ask questions”

Every year, I like to do a series on the blog. Old readers might remember My Favorite Things series; most recently, I interviewed a bunch of supercool fit people like Running with Ollie’s Lea Genders and Olympian Carrie Tollefson.

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The one time I was asked, “Who are you wearing?” This is not one of the questions I’ll be addressing on the blog.

A few years after I started running and working out, I began to notice people would come to me with their fitness questions. Since I launched the blog, the questions have continued and grown. So I decided, why not use this as my next feature on the blog.

I’ve been compiling some of the most common questions I’ve been asked throughout the years and will be answering them with a regular, dedicated blog.

If you have a general question about getting into running, eating well, lifting, balancing stress, any of it, leave it in the comments or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

To start things off, one of my favorite questions – and topics: Food.

 
Q: What Do You Eat?

A: I don’t often have people ask me what they should eat – but I frequently get asked what do I eat. I would guess it’s more general curiosity because I’m a vegetarian. But I like to think I have a pretty good balance of eating for health, performance, and enjoyment.

Here are my key players for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Hopefully it gives you some new ideas, and feel free to check out the Yum, Food page on this site for recipes and more idea.

 
Breakfast
During the week, my go-to is oatmeal with half a sliced banana. On higher protein days, I’ll go oatmeal with a scoop of Sprout Living pumpkin seed protein.

Pre-long run or before a Sunday workout, I up my breakfast game a bit and go with either whole grain toast or waffles topped with peanut butter and either banana or berries. It’s amazing.

 
Lunch
In addition to smaller portions of select dinner leftovers, a few of my favorites:

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Crockpot soup with extra veggies & tofu.

Veggie flax wrap. Filled up with goodies like avocado, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, and spinach.

Soup. Ideally, homemade with added veggies and tofu. Otherwise, I’ll opt for light or low-sodium veggie varieties from Progresso.

Subway flatbread with egg white, cheese, and lots of veggies. Sometimes you need to grab fast food for lunch and a healthy, protein packed option is crucial.

 
Dinner
Depending on whether I’m training for a big race, lifting a lot, or just a typical week, my dinner choices vary but there are some staples.

Zucchini and pasta. To amp up a tasty dinner without going overboard on the pasta, I usually mix one cup of pasta or spinach ravioli with zucchini noodles. As always, I’ll add a bunch of veggies to the mix – spinach, kale, artichokes, and tomatoes among my favorites.

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Breakfast for breakfast, for lunch, or for dinner, is always a win.

Burritos. Sometimes with a black bean burger and veggies. Sometimes with egg whites, black beans, and quinoa brown rice. Sometimes other stuff mixed in, sometimes larger flour burrito wraps, sometimes smaller corn tortillas.

Breakfast – at least a few times a week, I eat breakfast for dinner. Usually it’s a scramble of one egg and Muscle Egg, then a side like a sweet potato, Birdseye protein veggie blend, or my weekend breakfast waffles.

 
Snacks
Because a little in-between meal noshing is necessary.

Quality protein bars. Note the “quality” part of this one. There are tons of protein bars but, for me, I eat them to get more protein in my diet and satisfy candy cravings so I opt for two that give me the most protein bang for the buck – Quest and Pure Protein.

Cereal – love it but rarely eat it for breakfast. Usually, it makes for a nice snack. Multi-grain Cheerios, Special K, and Rice Chex are a few of my favorites.

Finally, Cheez-Its. Yep, gotta have some junk food from time to time. When it comes to indulging in my junk food treats, I try to follow the same policy as I do with holiday treats – love, not like. I give myself flex to eat the ones I love, then skip the stuff I only like. And Cheez-Its tops that list.

I eat plenty more treats than Cheez-Its. Ice cream, baked Cheetos, Reese’s Cups, Honey Bunches of Oats – I’ll occasionally have these and more. But I try to keep them to a non-regular basis.

Yum, food. I love food. That was fun.

Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask a question of your own to be answered in an upcoming blog!

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6 Reasons Why Health and Fitness Resolutions Fail

“Step up, show up, never give up”

Hands in the air if you’ve been crushing your workouts this month! I don’t know about the rest of y’all but my January workouts have been great. Clearly my strategic carb loading the second half of December paid off…

If you’re a fitness newb and have stuck to your New Year’s Resolution to work out (but judging by the rapidly declining attendance at my gym, you haven’t), give yourself a high-five.

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How working out feels on Blue Monday.

The reason for the check-in this week is it’s the week notorious for people quitting their New Year’s Resolutions. It’s actually hallmarked by its own “holiday” of sorts – Blue Monday. Apparently it’s the most depressing day of the year and the point when people have officially given up on their resolutions.

Even if the workout struggle is all too real for you, Blue Monday doesn’t have to be the end of your fitness journey. And, really, the timing has nothing to do with it – there are about a million reasons why most fitness resolutions fail, regardless of what time of year they begin.

Here are six reasons why most attempts at fitness and eating well fail – and what you can do right now to make sure yours doesn’t.

Poor Goals or No Goals
Before simply giving up on your fitness resolution, step back and examine why it has been hard to keep. One of – if not the top – reasons resolutions fail is poor goal setting.

Did you resolve to lose 20 pounds the first month? Or did you just resolve to lose weight?

Maybe you pledged to work out six days a week? Or perhaps you just resolved to work out more.

In order to achieve a goal it first, has to exist, second, be realistic, third, be measurable, and finally, have a plan to achieve. Once your goal meets that criteria, onward!

Time Management
From more time spent shopping and cooking to the sheer 30-60 minutes each day actually working out, fitness and health takes up more time in your day than not.

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Good food takes planning, time & effort – but SO worth it.

Many who start a health and fitness routine forget this piece of the puzzle. They either don’t adjust their schedule to make room for their new healthy habits or they attempt to do it all, and end up feeling more overloaded than ever before.

When you commit to a healthy and fit lifestyle, you have to sacrifice some pieces of your previous lifestyle. The good news is it doesn’t have to be all-encompassing. You may have to give up a nightly happy hour in favor of going to the gym. You may have to cut into your regular Sunday Netflix binge to grocery shop and meal prep. Figure out where you’re willing to make time, not stressing about not having enough time.

Slow Pokes
Speaking of time, this is another area that’s often skewed for fitness resolutionists and the cause of giving up.

You’ve been working out and eating well for two weeks now but seeing no results. WTF, right?

Wrong. It often takes several weeks – even months – to see results from a workout plan. In our impatient, need for immediacy, “I want it and I want it now” society, this discourages many people.

On the eating side, if you’ve truly been eating well and balanced the past two weeks, it’s likely you’ve lost from 1-5 pounds. That probably seems like such a small number but in reality, it’s the kind of weight loss that’s normal, healthy, and most importantly, sustainable.

Sure, contestants on the Biggest Loser drop 10 pounds in a week. Google how many of them gain back the weight once they try to sustain that in real life. Trust me, you don’t want to put yourself through that.

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How good I feel when eating & working out is on point.

While you may not feel like you’ve seen results, you have to at least feel better, right? Enjoy that feeling and strive to keep it!

And understand that being fit and healthy has no end point – it’s a lifelong commitment. Too often, the goal of “getting fit and healthy” is set but never achieved because of this. The fitness models in magazines, the ones that have massive social media followings – they didn’t reach that point in six weeks. In fact, they’ve probably been working on their bodies and health for years.

While you don’t have to live your life with the same level of commitment as a professional in the health and fitness world, realize that if you’re serious about it, it’s a never-ending process.

Space and Place
While likely not an initial thought, where you work out is a huge part of the equation to a successful fitness regime.

If you thought you could stick to a routine working out at home but find yourself constantly interrupted by kids or distracted by laundry, vacuuming, your DVR, or a million other things, it might be time to join a gym.

Or maybe you joined a yoga studio but find it hard to make it to any of the scheduled class times. It might make more sense to buy a mat, subscribe to an on-demand yoga channel, and give at-home workouts a shot.

Give yourself the best opportunity to succeed and it’s more likely you will.

That Damn Motivation
I know what you think. You think your biggest problem is that you’re just lacking motivation right now. Did you learn nothing from my New Year’s blog this year?!

Remember the lesson on motivation: it’s not a real thing.
Remember the lesson on working out and eating right: it’s a choice. And it’s WORK.

Remove the concept of motivation from your brain and vocabulary. When you eliminate it as an excuse, you’ll figure out the real issue.

Be Honest
Okay, time to get real. This whole working out, eating right, balanced lifestyle. Is this something you really want? Or do you have a case of the “shoulds?”

I “should” go to the gym.
I “should” lose 20 pounds.
I “should” be able to run that 5k.
I “should” be a size 6.

If you think you should do something, but you don’t really want to and can’t give any reasons why you want to do it there’s virtually no chance you’re going to do it.

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One of the places all the discipline pays off.

I remember telling someone this when they mentioned they might want to run a marathon. Their reasoning was, “I’ve done a half, I feel like I should do a full.” Yep, you for sure could do it; I mean, your body will be able to physically do it. But you have to really want to do it. If you’re going to sacrifice free time, drag your ass out of bed for a Saturday morning long run, and power through 40-50+ mile weeks, you have to really want it.

This is why I could never achieve a goal of being a bikini bodybuilder or traveling to every state. I don’t have a passion for either and I’m not willing to sacrifice other things in life to do either.

In order to reignite and get back on track for your resolution, I think the best piece of advice I can give is to forget the whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, start thinking of fitness and health as a lifestyle and ongoing process. One that fits with what you want in life, is hallmarked by small, frequent, measurable goals, and includes a plan and the commitment to stick with it.

If you’ve struggled with resolutions or simply with sticking to health and fitness in general, I challenge you to adjust your mindset and start by setting one goal – a clear, measurable, achievable goal. Then, hit me up with a comment, Instagram post or tweet when you achieve it!

How are your January fitness goals going? Share successes or struggles in the comments below or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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Why Yoga Should Be Part of a Healthy, Fit Lifestyle

“Trust the vibes you get. Energy doesn’t lie.”

Trying new things. Kinda been my jam lately.

It started with waking up early one day to see what Spinsanity was all about, continued with a few ass-kickings at JoeFitness, and most recently included a sneak peek sweat sesh at Fargo’s new Orangetheory Fitness studio.

For a gal who doesn’t often try the latest and greatest workout, I’ve been an adventurous lady as of the late. One of the best parts of all these trials is I’ve experienced each with a trusted fit pal by my side.

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Post-run yoga is always a must.

So naturally when my friend and fellow fit gal, Heather, invited me to a Yoga Sculpt class at the local Mojo Fit yoga studio, I eagerly said yes.

I enjoy yoga. I go through a quick yoga routine after long runs, always do a few moves after other workouts, and often search for new poses to address issues. But rarely do I take classes. In fact, the most recent one I remember was a good three years ago when Chris and I first started dating. I think he took the class with me to impress me with his athletic ability. Goal achieved.

Anyway, this fact alone made me interested to give yoga class another go. Plus, I know the benefits of yoga that go beyond the sheer fitness aspects.

Let’s just say I got more than I bargained for – in a good way.

The Heat is ON
One of my initial concerns with taking the class was if it was going to be a good enough workout. After all, if I was going to dedicate my Saturday morning workout to something, it better be hard and leave me sweaty. Heather assured me it was indeed both a hard and sweaty workout, and I trusted her word.

Let me tell you something. I can’t remember the last time I sweated so much from a workout. Yes, me, the aggressive sweater.

As we were in the car, driving to the yoga studio, Heather took the opportunity to inform me this class – a 75-minute one – takes place in the hot studio.

I tried to hide my reaction. Did she not know of my aggressive sweating? We talk about the gross sides of fitness all the time, surely I’ve mentioned this to her before. I laughed nervously but secretly I was breathing a huge sigh of relief that I went with the black pants versus anything that would show early signs of swass.

Upon arrival at the studio, it was nice and toasty – just as Heather described. It didn’t take long for me to work up a sweat, and things just went nuts from there. I’ll spare you all the details and just give a few highlights.

At one point I had to stop to grab a towel because a massive bead of sweat dripped into my eye and obstructed my vision.

While getting in position to do lunges, I slipped on my yoga mat. You know, because it was doused in sweat pools.

I was literally dripping in sweat. Like, I saw the drips in the mirror. And the beads on my legs were visible during our final cool-down stretch.

Yes, it was a hot and sweaty workout. Mission accomplished!

Keep On Movin
Within seconds of the class starting, I was glad I have experience with yoga poses. The instructor just began calling them out as she moved through the routine quickly, and thankfully I was able to keep up.

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My basic yoga experience came in handy.

Fast-paced didn’t just come with the warm-up poses. The entire class was fast-paced; it felt like we were constantly moving from one move to the next, from squats to cardio to overhead presses.

Not only did this keep things interesting and made the class go by quickly, it gave us a ton of bang for the buck, so to speak, making the most of the 75 minutes and taking the concept of “total body workout” to a new level.

Exercising the Mind
Speaking of total body workout, this class had it covered – and more. What I mean is it worked my mind as well. Not only did it push my focus and concentration, offer mindfulness and relaxation, it also reminded me of certain exercises that are necessary for me as a runner. And taught me a few new ones.

Again, I won’t go into detail of every cardio, upper body and lower body move. Instead, I’ll just share a few highlights.

Squats. Oh, so many squats. We did tons of variations too, which was especially great for a girl who loves squats.

We did some great single-leg moves and variations of what I typically do for single-leg moves. Both Heather and I are runners and commented to each other how great these moves were for us.

All moves were high reps with light weights. When I lift, I have a mindset of low reps as long as it’s the heaviest weight I can lift. This, while great for some workouts and pushing for gains, has gotten me in trouble before. This type of workout and mindset makes it’s too easy to push too hard, too often. Also, the problems I’ve had with hamstrings and hips make light, higher-rep lifts important to rehabbing those problem areas while making them stronger.

This was a huge plus of the workout and probably one of the best reminders for me to incorporate this style of lifts into my routine more often.

My free trial week at Mojo Fit studio continues this week, and I already have plans to take at least one more class with Heather. Going forward, I may visit the studio again, as I can see it being a valuable addition to my marathon training plan. And I’ll take away some of the moves I learned to incorporate on a more regular basis.

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Even Blitz likes her yoga fix.

For everyone else, yoga may seem like it’s not for everyone. However, it’s a great opportunity to focus, decompress, and remember that a healthy lifestyle goes beyond hours on the Stairmaster or weekly leg day. A reminder we all can use.

Fellow fit friends, do you practice yoga – basic, Bikram, or sculpt/cardio-focused classes like the one I took? How has yoga helped you in terms of fitness, mindfulness, and all-around balance? Comment below or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

 

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