Sunday, July 29, 2012 for July update and Just Do It

One more quick one for my A-Z blogging challenge.

July Goals. So if you recall - and I know you follow my blog so intently that you remember this with crystal clear detail - I set some Goals for July.

To date I had provided an update that I had indeed run 4 miles and I had indeed not only registered for, but completed my 5K.  That left my average of one mile per day in July or 31 miles total.

So I set down and went to work with my calculator and Nike+ today to check out where I was and how I'm doing.  Are you ready for this?

31.86 miles!

July goals - Check!

Works out really well since we are on vacation this week.  I still want to run if I can, but my leg might need some rest after my 5 mile run the other day so we'll see I feel.  But pretty awesome.  I guess I need to figure out my goals for August now to prepare that post when we are back.  I was originally going to target five miles...but, well I hit that, so we'll see.  I need a few days to recover to figure out if I want to increase distance in August or perhaps work on time for a bit.  I'll let you know.

Either way, as I mentioned in my goals post - specific, measurable, attainable goals.  I was specific about what I wanted, they were measurable, and I attained them.  Whoo hoo!

Just do it.  I've always loved Nike's slogan.  It's actually one of the reasons I got into marketing and went to school for it.  I used to tell people that I wanted to be the person who wrote Just do It slogans.  Well, I don't necessarily do that today...yet...but I still love the idea...and the slogan.

Just do it has been one of my running mantras.  Do I really want to run today?  Just do it, Amber.  Can I do 4 miles - Just do it.  Can I run a 5K - Just do it.  Can I run 5 miles - Just do it.  Sounding familiar?  Mainly I use it as my inspiration to try.  Don't question if I can - just do it.  If I don't get the whole thing, at least I did something and tried.  Anything is better than not doing anything and wondering if I could have.

So whatever your goals are - Just do it.  Stop questioning yourself.  Just do it.
~ A for I and Important

I is the topic of the day for the A-Z blogging challenge I'm slowly working my way through.

Had to think a while on I and I finally came up with a couple good ones I think.  They are very interrelated.

I.  Yes, you, me.  I.  I think all too often we push our own needs to the back burner.  Honestly, I was originally planning to do this post last night after Little G went to bed. but once she finally went down, I was exhausted.  Normally, I would say my sleep can wait, but you know what - I put myself and my needs first and I went to bed, saving this post for the morning.  Anyone hurt?  Not that I'm aware of.  Since the little slept through the night for the first time in who knows how long, I actually might have gotten close to eight hours of sleep for the first time in who knows how long.  And I  needed it!

I.  I put my needs ahead of yours reader.  I did it.  Don't hate me.  It's a big thing for me.  With a family, job, and other needs, often my needs get tossed to the bottom of the bucket.  I feel like I have to justify doing things for myself often - Oh, I just got a promotion, I guess I can finally get that pedicure I've been putting off for months despite my feet hurting and needing it.  Oh, I just wrapped up a HUGE project at work successfully, I guess I can splurge on some new clothes for myself (and somehow still manage not to spend a dime over the gift certificate amount I had - yes, I even can't do it when I have a gift certificate). I know I'm not alone here, although many of you may not be as far down the spectrum as me on this.  I'm working on it.  Making more time for me, for my needs.  I think we all should try a little harder here.

Important.  Say it with me, "I am Important."  This relates to what I was saying above.  Our needs, wants, feelings, desires, etc. are important.  We can't continue to push them aside to give others what we need.  Study after study have shown that we feel good when we give to others, but also that if we take some time for ourselves, it actually helps us perform better.  Get up, take a walk.  Interested in fitness?  Go for a run when you can.

I myself struggle with asking for help - this includes watching G so I can go run or do classes or whatever.  So I tend to make time at work.  However, I have been doing better at asking Joe to watch her Saturdays so I can run with the girls.  And he watched her when I ran a 5K.  My neighbor watched her for me once so I could run.  I've found that most people are fine watching your children/pet for 15-30 minutes if you are going for a run.  Doesn't hurt to ask right?

Eating better is another important thing here for me.  Eating healthy and serving as a healthy role model for my daughter is hugely important to me.  She eats what we eat, so I make a healthy meal.  Joe isn't 100% on board with my healthy eating...he's at least trying lately - he did eat some of my green beans the other night.  But so far it seems to work.  G eats a lot of veggies and fruits and whole wheat grains.  We have a small garden and she begs loves to go down and look for new strawberries, zucchini, and green beans with me.  She eats them right off the vine.  Kind of weird to me, but as long as she's eating them beans and squash, she can do whatever she wants.

I've gotten off topic.  What I was trying to point out here is that you/me/I - we are important.  Our needs, our feelings, our wants.  We need to take the time to work on achieving our goals and doing more for ourselves, because in the end - it helps everyone around us.  We are happier and healthier and thus have a better outlook and more energy to spread to those around us.

One more time: I am Important.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can I run 5 miles????

There's an upcoming race near me - 23rd Annual Day Kimball Healthcare Deary Memorial Race, Walk & Ride - and a friend asked if I had seen it.  I'd seen the ads for it, but finally took the time to look it up.  It's a 5 mile course in an area I'm not really familiar with.

Now, first thought - can I even run 5 miles?  I was planning to target hitting the 5 mile mark by the end of August if possible.  Using the 10% rule that seemed okay.

I was planning my first post-race run today.  I did 1.5 miles on the treadmill yesterday as part of my fitness test, but that didn't really count too much - I wasn't pushing myself, it wasn't outside and it was only 1.5 miles.

I set out this morning.  Beautiful running weather - overcast, 72 degrees, very windy, spitting rain.  Nice. I was targeting at least three miles, hoping for four, and then in the back of my mind thinking perhaps my super stretch goal is five miles.

I ran and I ran and I ran.  Made it to four miles and was feeling great.  So I kept going and going and going.  4.75 miles, my right knee and left calf started to hurt a bit, but I was soooooo I pushed through it.

5.01 miles - just over 47 minutes.  Pace - 9'31" per mile.  It's funny, I always think I'm running so slow, and then I ultimately end up around that pace. 

My calf was feeling pretty tight and sore after finishing and my knee was hurting a little.  I stopped into the gym to visit the staff and get some stretches to loosen up and hopefully prevent any injuries since basically increasing 25% in one run...oops.  I stretched for 20 minutes and it felt great to stretch.  I normally don't do that.

We'll see how I feel over the next couple of days though.

So yes, I can run 5 miles.  However, can I do a 5 mile race?  I think I need to watch the weather and find out more about that it hilly?  I'm going to try and see if I might be able to find someone to run it with me too.  We'll see how that goes.  Any volunteers?

If I can do this, I'll be well on my way to a 10K.  Eeek!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Fitness Assessment

So today I took advantage of a service at my gym to have a fitness assessment done.  I went into it thinking, I think I'm pretty fit so this should go well.

Depending on how you look at it I guess it did go well.  I scored average in everything and above average in one thing (Ironically the one area I would have expected to door poorly in).  I think I was guessing I would score above average in more stuff, but I guess it is better than scoring below average right?  Glass half full Amber, glass half full.

Here's my results:

BMI: 21.9
[Healthy range: 19-25]

Body Fat %: 22.3
You are in the 'average' range for your age group [22.1-25.3]

Cardiovascular Fitness (VO2Max Test): 1.29 Miles completed
You are in the 'average' range for your age group [1.12-1.36]

Flexibility: 20 inches
You are in the 'above average' range for your age group [>20 inches]

Muscular Endurance: 17 push ups
You are in the 'average' range for your age group [ 17-33]

So looking at these results, at least I have a baseline.  Perhaps in three months I can take it again.  I was thinking I'd like to lower my body fat a bit more, but being that it's pretty low in the average range, maybe I'm okay.  I definitely want to get my cardiovascular fitness into the above average range - looking at how close I was, if I had just pushed myself for the last 30 seconds of my run, I would have done it.  I just thought I needed to run for the whole time, not necessarily how far I was running.  But now I know.  Push up wise, I think I can work on that one as well.  To be honest - the fact that I got 17 is pretty impressive to me.  I don't typically do push ups and I just started this week and only did 12.

I guess overall its indicating I'm on the right track and I can continue to improve right?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The little things....

I was thinking last night about all the little things that make me smile and I thought "Amber, this is a great idea for the good ole' blog." So I am going to start a new little series about the little things that make me happy, make me smile, make me pause, or just plain warm the heart occasionally. This should help improve my mental fitness I think and hopefully spread some joy.

So with that, my inaugural little things post will be about new socks. New socks?! Yes, new socks.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of wearing a new pair of sicks. They are soft and cushiony. I never really took the time to appreciate new socks until I met my friend Lorien in middle school. She LOVED (and probably still does) new socks. I remember thinking...this chick is crazy (well we knew that already...but you know what I mean).

But next time I got new socks (which wasn't often) I really took the time to feel them out. And as usual, she was right. They are AWESOME. Just awesome. Soft, comfy, and snug. Perfect fit. Lorien may not even remember those days...hopefully it was Lorien. If not, well too bad - it was you darn it. But what really matters is the socks.

So next time you get a new pair of socks, take a sec and enjoy the wonderful feeling that is new socks. Wiggle your toes, slide across the floor, dance. Whatever it takes.


Monday, July 23, 2012 for Happy & Healthy

For my next edition of my A-Z blogging challenge, I have the letter H.

This was a pretty easy one for me.

Healthy.  The main reason I want to be a fitter mom.  I want to be healthy so I can be the best mom and wife I can be. 

I look up the definition of healthy on

1. possessing or enjoying good health or a sound and vigorous mentality: a healthy body; a healthy mind.
2. pertaining to or characteristic of good health, or a sound and vigorous mind: a healthy appearance; healthy attitudes.
3. conducive to good health; healthful: healthy recreations.
4. prosperous or sound: a healthy business.
5. Informal . fairly large: I bought a healthy number of books.
I'll take all. Yes, please.
Happy.  Happiness is also an important thing to me.  I'll consider myself a successful mom is my little is happy and healthy.  It's the little things that make you happy, but it's those little things that really matter.  My cousin once asked my aunt, "Why is Amber so happy, she basically wakes up happy."  I guess I'm just a pretty happy person in general, not prone to unhappiness.  I'm pretty intrinsically motivated, so even when I'm down I tend to take steps to turn around my day.
I have periods in time when I get a little down and one of my best ways to help me feel better is to try to make other people happy.  Compliment them. Help them.  Give it a try.

This image made me happy as I tried to search for something to put here:
I'm reading Gretchen Rubin's "Happiness Project" book.  I love it.  The whole concept is even if you are happy, you can be happier and it talks about little steps you can take to be happier.

 Another thing that makes me happy?  Do you know what's coming here? Chocolate.  Oh yeah baby.  Had a nice glass of chocolate milk tonight.  Mmm, mmm yummy.  Even better - shared some with the little.
Those are my thoughts on H.

My First Time...running a 5K

I did it!  Ran my first 5K this weekend.  I did a small, local one so I could build some confidence.  Will's Way 5K.

I was so nervous and anxious the night before.  It took me forever to go to sleep.  I kept thinking of all the things I needed the next day, trying to calm myself, but I finally fell asleep after doing some power eating and hydrating to prepare for the big day.

Wake up bright and early on Saturday morning.  I made myself a strawberry, banana, and kale smoothie to prep.  Slathered on some sun screen and then drove to my fellow MRTT Sterling team mate C's house to carpool over.

Got to the race - what a strange, new experience.  I hadn't pre-registered, so stand in line and register after finally finding the registration desk.  Bib #203. Then I struggled to attach a shoe tracking chip that they use to track your time more accurately.  Apparently I wasn't the only one new to this - none of my running club ladies had seen them either.  Finally got that on and then we had an hour to spend waiting for the race to start. 

Bathroom run.

Then it was time to line up.

Finally, the race started.  I kept telling myself to go slow and I did a good job.  My Thursday training hill run did me well.  It was an extremely hilly route.  I think somewhere around the 2.5 mile mark I was digging to find some strength, but I pushed through my mental road block and pushed through.  Probably 400 meters before the finish line a brown haired woman cheered me on at the perfect time - telling me great job - you can do it.  It was just the inspiration I needed to sprint the final part.  My official time was 30'27".  According to my Nike+ it was 5.55K (I think it was 3.4 miles vs. 3.1) so my pace came out at 8'51" according to my Nike+.  I PR'd my time by over 30 seconds per mile!  But not only that...I finished. I did it.

So proud of myself!

And now I'm addicted.  I think I'd like to do some more 5K's.  See if I can get my pace down closer to 8'30" or 8' per mile perhaps.  I'm also contemplating doing a 10K too - but that would be late fall for sure.  I need to slowly train up to this so I don't get injured.  Most of all, I really am proud of myself for this journey I've made to becoming more fit.

Goal #2 complete for July and on track (ahead of schedule) for my last goal.  Whoo hoo!

Supposedly they took photos...I need to track this down!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Safe running

My friend Michele did a great post about running safely on the road.  I probably couldn't have said it better - check it out. for Goals

For the next edition of my A-Z blogging challenge, I'm up to the letter G.

Goals.  No matter what you're trying to achieve, decide what your goals are before starting.  If you want to lose weight, define it - lose X pounds by X date.  If you want to eat healthier start with a food group - increase my daily servings of fruits to 3 per day by May.  If you want to exercise, set definite goals - I want to do 30 minutes of exercise three times per week.  If you are a runner and you want to run a certain distance or pace, set small steps to get to your goal.

Small, definite goals help you ultimately achieve your large goal. 

What does that mean for me?

Goal wise for July I set three goals:
1) Hit the 4 mile mark - Completed
2) Run a mile per day in July - On track
3) Register for a 5K - Guess who's doing a 5K this weekend?  Yep, this girl!  I'm scared and excited and happy and nervous and...OMG.

So the point is...set small definite goals and then another good G word - GO...Go get them.  Once you accomplish them, set more.  Get those.  Then keep going.


Monday, July 16, 2012 for Fitness, Fruit, and Fun

For the next edition of my A-Z blogging challenge, I'm writing about the letter F.

Fitness.  The main reason and track I've been on for a little over a year I think.  I think anyone trying to be fitter, even small steps are is a good thing.  There are several types of fitness.  The ones I've focused on are Mental Fitness, Emotional Fitness, and Physical Fitness. 

Physical Fitness -
My definition: This is the keeping your motor running, blood pumping, tangible part of fitness.  You improve your physical fitness and well being by being active and eating well.

Wikipedia: Physical fitness comprises two related concepts: general fitness (a state of health and well-being), and specific fitness (a task-oriented definition based on the ability to perform specific aspects of sports or occupations). Physical fitness is generally achieved through correct nutrition, exercise, and enough rest.
In previous years[when?], fitness was commonly defined as the capacity to carry out the day’s activities without undue fatigue. However, as automation increased leisure time, changes in lifestyles following the industrial revolution rendered this definition insufficient. In current contexts, physical fitness is considered a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations.

Emotional & Mental Fitness -
My definition: This is how you feel emotionally - are you happy, depressed, sad, mad, resentful, etc.  Emotional fitness is huge for some people and a big driver for unhealthy materials.  Some people try to fill unfilled emotional needs with unhealthy habits (Such at over eating).  Your level of stress is a huge indicator of your mental and emotional well being.  Doing the things that you love, you are passionate about will help your mental well being and reduce your stress level.

Couldn't find an official definition of this one, so I probably made it up or there's a better term for it.

What are you passionate about?

Either way, I think focusing on improving each of these areas is the key to being truly fit.  *This is just my opinion - in no way based on education or expert advice.

Fruit.  Fruit should be a big part of your diet if you're trying to be healthier and fitter.  Eat your rainbow.  The more colorful your plate is, the better is probably is for you.  You get lots of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients from fruit that you can't really find in other places.  A quick step to become healthier is to eat more fruit.  The more variety the better, but if you take a small steps and just eat the ones you like any change is a change for the better.  Once you are changing for the better, you can branch out and try other types.

Any favorite fruits you love to eat?  Any more uncommon ones you like that you think others should try?

Fun.  Whatever steps you take to be healthier, it's key to have a little fun.  Take time to dance around in the kitchen, paint, watch a sunset, and smile.  Have a little fun.

What do you like to do for fun?

This is just humorous:

On a more serious note:

So that's my thoughts on words that start with F.


Saturday, July 14, 2012 for Encouragement, Excitement, and Energy

For the next in my A-Z blogging challenge, I needed to tackle the letter E.  This one took a few days to figure out what I wanted to talk about here and I finally thought about earlier today.

Encouragement. I'm very proactive about encouraging others when I can.  I've received a lot of encouragement from others throughout my fitness trials and tribulations and it's really helped me, so I like to pay it forward.

It's funny, now that I know how mentally challenging running can be sometimes and how sometimes all I want to hear when I'm running and struggling is someone yell, "You can do it," - when I see someone running down the road, I get an urge to roll down my window when I'm driving and yell encouragement to them.  I haven't done it yet...but I'm might tempted.  I think I'm afraid of offending someone verses encouraging them...but I don't know.  Anyone have any thoughts on that?  You welcome the encouragement or would that bother you to have a random stranger tell you great job, keep it up?  Sound off in comments.

Other than that I'm also doing what I can to encourage those around me in whatever their fitness endeavors are.  It can't hurt anything and might help someone right?  That's my thinking anyway.

Excitement. This is a strange one to write about, but definitely important.  I think in anyone's quest to be fitter, they need to find and do things that excite them, or you'll never be able to commit to it and won't make the progress you want.  Running excites me.  Writing excites me.  Running doesn't excite the hubs.  But nowadays there are so many awesome activities you can do that you should be able to find something that excites you - dancing, yoga, cross fit, mudders, biking, etc.  So many options.  Find something that excites you so you look forward to it, and go do it.

Energy.  This has been a real struggle for me.  Initially when I started running I was expecting to see an increase in my energy level, help me throughout the day.  While I get an initial lift after my run, I find that I'm actually more tired towards the end of the day.  Really wanting to go to bed early.  Missing sleeping in on weekends.  It's definitely a challenge to wake up and run some weekends.  I think a good part of it is because the little wakes up during the night still so I don't get a full nights sleep - let alone four hours in a row any nights.  I wake up early and likely end up going to bed later than I should most nights.  If I'm even in my bed eight hours a night that's impressive, but it's usually more like six or seven.  Then there's the time falling asleep.

I definitely have more energy than a year ago now that I'm eating better and exercising.  I'd love to have more though.  I think I have more energy than most people I know, but it still isn't enough for me.  Maybe I have unrealistic expectations?

Anyone have any tips on getting more energy?  I'd love to hear them.

So that's the letter E.  Until next time.


July Goals Update

I did it, I did it.  I ran 4 miles this week.  Whooo!

4.01 miles on my Thursday run.  And I'm feeling it, but in a good way.  I was going to take a run today, but my body gave me all sorts of signs it needed another day off, so I listened because I really don't want any injuries right now.  Went for a walk and it was gorgeous out temperature wise, nice breeze - great running weather.  Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

My running this week:

Tuesday -
3.01 Miles - 9'35" pace.  I felt great, but ran out of time so I had to stop.

Thursday -
4.01 Miles - 9'21" pace.  That's right - Distance and Pace PRs.  WOOOOOOO.

Gold star:
If you're paying attention, that's also seven miles meaning I'm still on pace for my one mile per day goal as well.  Whoo hoo!

Still hasn't signed up for an official 5K yet though.  Really want to do Will's Way next weekend, but I need to talk to the Mr. about it first.

That's my quick update for the week.  Hopefully tonight I'll get to do my E for my A-Z challenge.

~ A

Why I pink puffy heart running right now

That title so isn't me, but it made me giggle. :)  But, well it's sort of true.  I do kind of pink puffy heart running right now.

I've had several people say to me recently, "Wow, you're really into this running thing huh?" or something like that.  And instead of having a negative or defensive reaction, I get to have a positive one.  "Yes, I am.  I love it.  It makes me feel good, it..." Wait, there I go getting ahead of myself again.

So it kind of got me thinking and doing a little introspection.  Why do I like running so much?

Initially I got into running as a budget friendly way to try to get over my hatred, dislike, unhappiness, dissatisfaction with my post baby body.  I had some weight I wanted to lose - just a few pounds - in hopes that would help.  But I also really needed to find something to help awaken my core muscles and try to tone them so I didn't feel like I was still pregnant when I saw myself in a bathing suit or pictures.  Basically, I wanted to feel good, or at least okay with my body again.

Spending money on myself is tough and finding time and money to pay for a gym is hard, so I tried running.  The day after my first run, my abs first so nice (under my shirt of course).  Tight and lean.  I felt great.  I kept getting similar returns.  I started getting over my weight loss plateau and started trimming up - more in inches off than pounds, but it was started to pay off.

The other thing I found when I ran was that it helped clear my mind.  For that momentary time I could forget all the work, life, and other things on my mind and look ahead and set mini goals.  Remember, I like giving myself little gold stars, even imaginary ones are okay.  Run to that rock Amber.  Yay, you did it. Gold star.

So feeling better about my body, having less stress.  I was feeling good.  Others who know me well were noticing.  People were asking me what I was doing, telling me I looked great.  You know what?  It was true. I felt great, I looked great.  Hearing it from someone else though - that gives you wings and makes you soar.

One of my favorite reasons for running is control.  If you know me, I'm sort of a control freak.  Not over the top, but I do like my things in order and in control.  For a while I felt like several things in my life I couldn't control.  Work was crazy (In a good way of course, but the unknown kind of intimidates me so it was scary for me for a while), life felt like it was in a strange place, and well for those of you with kids - despite thinking pre-kids you can control them I was quickly realizing that no, I cannot.  I can try - in vain - and get stressed about it.  Which was what I was doing for a while.  Running helped de-stress me enough that I was a better mommy when I was around verses being stressed all the time.

Finally, and most recently probably the most important reason I run is the sense of community.  I've played other sports and they can be competitive and occasionally you have a support system.  But runners, runners are just plain awesome.  People who race and are at the top of their game - running the Boston marathon - happy to run with you and celebrate your seemingly small accomplishments. 

I ran the last mile of a really tough run of mine with my boss (we met up on a path) and despite him being a serious sub-6 minute mile Boston marathon runner, he ran the last mile with me encouraging the whole way.  I have another coworker who is a marathoner who I ask all of my "silly running questions" to.  I emailed her the other day about finally hitting my 4 mile mark (separate post coming...but yay!) and she immediately emailed me back truly excited for me with lots of encouragement.  Another coworker ran one of my early unofficial 5Ks with me.  Fast for me, slow for him.  But still, encouraging, complimentary.  Every runner I've met is happy to encourage others and run at whatever pace - just to be running and helping someone else.  They may go run more afterwards, but they still run with you, smile on their face.  Its really great - especially in your early days when you lack confidence and/or have lots of questions.

After reading this fantastic article, "Sole Sisters" in Real Simple Magazine, I started a local running club near me.  Up to five runners.  We've done three runs together I think.  I also just as of this week signed up to be a Moms Run This Town Group Leader after reading about the group on one of my favorite blogs - Auto Pilot Legs.  I'm excited to share the support and encouragement.  I'd love for everyone to start running - and I'm happy to go with you - as long as I can keep up.

If you want to check out my group, you can find it here.

Because of all those reasons - running is fun for me.

So that's why I run. 

~ A

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Goals for July

I'm doing good with my running so far this month.  It's July 8 and I've already run more than eight miles.  Ran on Wednesday (7/4 - Happy 4th of July), Friday (7/6), and Saturday (7/7).  I'm hoping to really keep up and run at least three times a week now that my workload is back to normal and I've got a running club to keep me honest. 

My goal - Run 31 miles in July - average of one mile a day.  I'm hoping to break my distance barrier and finally get more than 3.5 - really targeting 4.  We'll see though with this heat.  It intimidates me. 

I'm also hoping to get over my fear and just do it - Sign up for an official 5K.

Another challenge I'm pondering for myself:

A food challenge.  Each time I go to the farmers market, buy a food I've either never had or not had in ages and bring it home and try it.  I'm thinking kohlrabi, beets, stuff like that.  Some of my favorite foods now a days are things that I didn't start eating until the past couple of years (Swiss Chard and Kale), so I'm sure there is lots of other awesome stuff out there for me to try.

What do you think?  Would you like to hear about my food adventures if I do it?

~A for Do it, Determination, and Diet

Continuing on my fitness A-Z blog challenge.  I had to think a while to come up with some good "d" words to write about.  I got desperate (ha ha, d) and googled it.  And really didn't get far.  So I thought some more and came up with a couple worth talking about that resonated with me.

Do it. I don't mean it.  I mean do whatever it is for you.  If you are thinking about it, just do it.  Don't keep procrastinating, or make excuses, do it.  What does that mean for me lately?  Well, I keep not signing up for an official 5K. I'm scared.  I'll admit it.  I'm afraid of failure which for me means not running the whole thing.  I'm afraid I'll overheat since it's July you know.  I'm afraid of the unknown.  But, I need to get over myself and just do it.  Just do it Amber.  The Will's Way 5K is a local 5K near me I'm eying.  I wish there was one sooner that resonated.  If anyone knows of one nearby, let me know.  If not, I'll keep eyeing this one and hopefully just sign up one of these days.  Anyone want to sign up with me? Keep me accountable?

What's your thing that you need to just do?  Think about it, then do it.

Determination. This has been a key thing for me in my quest to become a healthier person.  Determination helps drive me.  It keeps me going.  I'm determined to be healthier for myself and my family.

Diet.  I don't mean a fad go lose a bunch of weight type of thing.  I mean what you eat every day.  How healthy is your diet?  I did a good look at mine earlier this year and realized it could be a lot better.  I really like the new food pyramid/my plate thing - much more visually appealing.  I've been doing a lot better eating my colors and eating more fruits and veggies.  I also eat a lot of whole wheat and whole grain products.  If you want to be a fitter person, take a look at your diet.  Does it need a makeover? 

I've found as I eat better, I feel better.  I don't get sick as often and I'm happier.  Works for me. I suggest you give it a try.  I'll admit, it will take at least three weeks for you to really start seeing effects and get rid of the cravings for crappy food.  So it will take determination and dedication (couldn't help myself there!).

Until next time!


PS - Keep me accountable. Call me out.  Someone make me sign up for that 5K dammit!

Friday, July 6, 2012 also for Chocolate.

OMG - I almost did a C post without mentioning Chocolate.  Who am I? What happened?  I must need a nap.

Chocolate is one of my vices.  I love it.  I've blogged about it.  I still eat it daily and managed to lose almost ten pounds.  It's my path to happiness.  I won't give it up.  And I'm ok with it.  So there.

C = CHOCOLATE.  Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.  I had some in my coffee this morning already.  Have some in my nightly trail mix/protein pick me up.  Have it in other ways too.  Need to go find some now. for Change, Choice, and Challenge

I as prepared to write my C post for my A-Z blogging challenge, I realized there were just far to many C words I could write about.  So I exercised some control (he he, C) and limited myself to three to talk about today.


“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Mahatma Gandhi
Change is tough, change inspiring, change is well, change.  Changing can be great.  Whatever it is you want to change about yourself, set some goals and just do it.  In the past couple of years I've made a lot of changes to myself for the better I think.  I'm healthier - I eat more fruits and veggies, less processed foods, and drink more water.  I'm greener - I use ecofriendly cosmetics, grow some of my own food, buy local when I can, use efficient appliances and bulbs in the house, etc.  Change helps us become better people - the people we want to be.  The kind of person we admire.
One of my focuses recently is happiness.  I love, love, love (did I mention love?) Gretchen Rubin's book, "The Happiness Project."

I have a confession though.  I haven't read the entire book yet.  Oops.  Honestly, every time I start reading her book, I get so inspired to go out and do something.  Change for the better.  Do things to make myself happier.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a happy person, but I think we can all be happier.  That's the premise of the book.  It's great.  Pick it up, read it.  You'll probably have the same reaction as me.  I'd like to think I'll finish this book by the time her second one comes out in September.  Maybe. Just maybe.

Choice. We make so many choices in a day.  Some big, some small.  Some are so infinitesimally small that you probably don't think twice.  Others require lots of thinking, researching, planning, etc.  Most of those really small choices that don't require any thought are the hardest ones to change - they are habits, ingrained in us.  What we eat, drink, do on a regular basis.  Habits.  Being healthier and fitter can start with making small changes to the choices we make every day (Did you like that - I linked my C's). 

Some of the small choices I've made that have helped me change: Putting skim milk instead of whole milk or cream in my coffee, parking in the back of the garage to walk the extra distance, dancing while I cook sometimes (much to Little's dismay - No mommy, no dancing!), spending more time outside, starting a running club, etc.  Small choices you make every day can really add up.  Take the stairs verses the elevator. HUGE.  No soda. HUGE. Milk vs. cream - lots of savings.  Measuring out a portion of something verses aimlessly eating from the container. Now we're just talking crazy.

My point is, small changes really can add up to a huge change.

Challenge. I get it, really I do.  Some of us like challenge more than others.  Some of us are better at challenging ourselves.  Some of us strive on it.  Some of us need mental gold stars to give ourselves.  I'm ok, really I am.  I know I'm not alone - It's in Gretchen's book too.  She does the same thing. So there!

Anyway, if you are or aren't the type of person who likes a challenge, I really CHALLENGE you to set goals for yourself that well, challenge you to go beyond your current limits.  Run farther, go faster, change (did it again), make a choice, go somewhere you've never been, do something that scares you, etc.  Challenge yourself.  You can do it.  And if you fail - what's the big deal? Pick up and try again.  If you succeed, give yourself a gold star and do it again.

I struggle with this one.  I try to challenge myself each day to do something, but sometimes I fail.  So I pick myself up again.  It's ok.  Failure is good, I promise.  Some of the greatest successes started out as failures.  I won't get into details about that though.

My personal challenge to you - Make one change or make one choice to become a fitter person.  See if it inspires you to make others.  And let me know how it goes!

My challenge that I successfully completed for the day - I ran this morning.  In the heat (It scares me).  It was almost 80 degrees.  I originally wanted to set a distance, but instead of set a time - 30 minutes.  Run for thirty minutes without stopping.  I secondarily wanted to make sure I could still run 3 miles straight as it's been a while since I have with this cold and schedules and stuff (enough excuses Amber!).  Anyway, I went out around 9:30 this morning, ran 3.15 miles in 30 minutes - 9'33" per mile pace.  Both goals - check!  Challenge accepted!


Thursday, July 5, 2012 for Beautiful, Body Image, Bananas, and Broccoli

To continue with my A-Z blogging challenge, let's move onto B.

I couldn't pick just one B word, so I'm doing a few.  Bare with me...ha ha, another B.

Beautiful and Body Image go together in my mind.  When I was thinking of B words I was originally going to do just Body Image and as I began to plan this post in my mind I started thinking about how difficult it is to maintain a healthy body image. We're all beautiful in one way or another, one shape or form - both inside and out.  I think it's time for us to recognize that and celebrate it.

(I love Dove's campaign around this)

Let's face it though - we all have things about our body we don't like.  What I'd like to encourage you to do and focus more on is the things you DO like about your body.  You better have at least one...if not, this should be your top priority.  Seriously though, instead of focusing on the bad, embrace the good. 

All too often we become obsessed with the bad - what we don't like.  I'd like to encourage you to flip your way of thinking and embrace the good.  Rather than gossiping with our girlfriends about how much we hate this or that about ourselves, why not change it up and talk about how much we love x part of ourselves.  I know - it's tough, we don't want to come off as conceited, but you really need to do it.  Here's how I'd suggest going about it - complement  your friends first.  Who doesn't love getting a complement?  Tell them their legs look good or you admire their arms.  Pretty easy right?  Then its a nice to transition into something like, "You know, I've always loved how toned my legs look.  Do you have any good tips for getting arms like yours?"  Then it stays positive.  Much nicer than "I wish my arms looked as good as yours."  Try it, please. 

So, in the essence of sharing, what do I like about myself?  Well, I like my legs - I'm good at maintaining nice muscle in my legs and they look good - or at least I think so.  Love my shoulders and arms - similar story - I think they look nice and healthy.  And, well as a chick, I'd like to admit that I'm kind of proud of the girls on my chest.  I'm happy with the size.  So there, a few things I like about myself.

But, that small nagging part of you always gets in the way.  The...I hate how my arms jiggle or this stomach...seriously?  Rather than always focusing on the negative, try to take action to get them to the state you want them to be - with the realization that you may not ever get them perfect, but better. 

I hate my stomach...always have.  After having a baby and gaining too much baby weight it was just worse. I'd give anything now a days to go back to the stomach I had pre-baby, but alas I cannot.  So instead, I do what I can to strengthen my core and let time try to heal the stretch marks and muscle.  Running has definitely helped.  Shirt on, I'm getting to a pretty OK place with my tummy.  Still not happy shirt off and you won't catch me in a bikini any time soon (or ever again perhaps), but I'm learning to accept it.  And the little was totally worth every mark.

I'd also like to take a moment to talk about being beautiful on the inside.  I was always a focus on the inside and being a good person type of personality.  I recognize that the outside changes, so I'd rather like who I am on the inside first and I'm pretty comfortable saying I like who I am, what I stand for.  If you can't say that, you definitely need to work on accepting who you are or becoming who you want to be before trying to change the outside - or do both at once, but understand that the inside really shapes the outside and persists over time.  Whether your giving or graceful, shy or outgoing, confident or glamorous...any characteristic - all beautiful in their own way and it's what makes you, well you.  Celebrate it.  Love it.

Moving on to my other B's.

Bananas.  In my attempts to be a greener, more ecofriendly person, I try to grow some of my own food and support local agriculture when I can.  But bananas are my vice.  I know they are flown from around the world and living in New England I'll never have a locally grown banana in my lifetime unless its so genetically modified I'd be scared to eat it.  So I continue to by and consume (in mass quantity) bananas because they are so good for you.  Lots of potassium.  (for more on how good for you bananas are, go here.) Yummy. Just yummy.  The little and I probably eat a good 10 - 12 bananas between us in a week.  Lately I'm in love with having banana smoothies.

Two of my favorites are:
Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie (saw this on Pinterest - thanks friends)
- 1 peeled banana (frozen or regular - your preference)
- 1/4 cup yogurt (Love me some Stonyfield Banilla)
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup milk (or more for your preference.  I do skim - Stonyfield again.)

Blend to creamy deliciousness.  Love this.  I've adjust it recently to tone down the peanut butter and sometimes I omit the yogurt when I'm in a hurry.  Other times I add cinnamon because it makes everything better, I promise.  Mmmmm.

My newest addition (as of just started yesterday):
Banana, Strawberry, & Kale Delight
- 1 peeled banana (I'm using regular)
- 1/2 - 1 cup sliced strawberries
- Some chopped Kale, stems removed (If you're new to greens in your smoothies, start with a little and work your way up).
- Milk

Blend until smooth.  Very yummy.  I'm new to adding greens to my smoothies, so I started small and did more today.  Can't taste them, I promise.  And I'm excited to say now I have a way to have veggies with my breakfast smoothie. :)  Healthy and nutritious.

Broccoli.  I love broccoli.  It's really my latest obsession.  I eat more than a pound a week.  It was great when the little was obsessed too, but alas she's moved onto cauliflower.  Broccoli has a ton of iron in it, which is probably why I'm craving it so.  (for more about why broccoli is good for you, go here.) I can't seem to eat it raw though, so I saute it with a little butter and olive oil.  It's Smart Balance Butter, it's ok, really. :) 

Thankfully the farm down the road grows it and has the most delicious broccoli - shout out to Betsy's Stand.  I grew some in the garden for the first time this year.  Unfortunately the heat wave we had up here got it, so I didn't get much.  Maybe the next batch in the late summer/early fall will be better.  I need to find out what variety Betsy grows apparently.

I eat broccoli hot, I eat broccoli cold.  Salads, plain, with every meal.  I could write a Dr. Seuss like book about it.  Either way - it's a new obsession really since changing my eating style.  I told you you could become obsessed with and crave healthy things.  Living proof. Right here.

So that's my B's for fitness. 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012 for Attitude

In the first edition of my A-Z blogging challenge, I'd like to talk about Attitude.  Not the "Your momma, in your face" type of attitude.  I'm talking your overall mental state and thoughts.

I think for anyone to make a change and start to lead a healthier lifestyle, it really requires an adjustment to your attitude.  No longer can you take the "Woe is me" approach or the "I'll get to it later."  Nope.  You have to decide to act and take control.  Live it and own it.

I think another portion of attitude though is having the positive mental state to challenge yourself.  Changing isn't easy.  As a matter of fact, it's tough.  Changing how and what you eat.  Making the decision to get up and run when others around you may not understand or support you.  Pushing yourself when you are running to do better, go longer, run faster...whatever your goal may be.

I read one tale on CNN of a guy who was always fit who intentionally tried to be unhealthy so he could understand what his clients went through.  Then he later changed again to lose all the weight and go back to being healthy.  He said both the changes were extremely tough...but stopping drinking soda and eating fried food was one of the hardest things he had ever done.  You get into the habits of eating a certain way...but beyond that...your body gets used to things...healthy or not.  Then you crave them when you go without them.

I remember reading about changing to eat healthier and how if you do your cravings switch from things like french fries to salads.  I thought that was just silly.  Several months into my journey I can tell you...I crave salads and broccoli.  A lot.  Love me some Cobb salad, avocado ranch dressing, and I can't eat enough broccoli.  But there was quite the period of time where all I wanted was some McDonald's french fries.  I don't get those cravings anymore...but I've gone long enough that I felt like they were out of my system.  I got some a few weeks back...they don't even taste that well anymore to me.  Give it a won't believe me until you try it, I know.

My next big project is really to get the hubs eating more healthy and keeping the little on a healthy track.  It's hard though because it's about attitude and if someone doesn't want to change...they won't.  So we'll see where that goes.  But that's a whole other post for another day.

In the meantime, before embarking on any journey or if you are struggling with yours, examine your attitude and adjust as needed (another A word).


A-Z Blogging Challenge

I've been eyeing this challenge for a while since my friend Michele posted about it.  (Read her post here).  And here's the official challenge page.

I think I'd like to do a fitness inspired one when I have time over the next however long it takes me and go from there.

So watch for those...and we'll see where we get to and how long it takes me. :)


Been busy...

Sorry - not going to lie.  I've been busy so I haven't been blogging.  The little keeps me on my toes so I don't have a lot of free time at night to sit down and post updates.

However, I'm happy to report that I'm doing well on my fitness goals.  Since my last post I really focused in on eating better and running more.  I've lost almost ten pounds since January as of this morning.  Running wise I'm happy as can be.  After stalling under the 1 mile mark for what seemed like weeks, I finally busted through in May and now I can run a 5K (3.1 miles).  I haven't run an official 5K yet, but I've run several unofficial 5Ks around the work trails.

I also started up a running group on facebook comprised of some other local moms who run.  We're the Quiet Corner Running Group and we're up to 5 members.  We had our first run this past weekend and we did just shy of three miles.  So excited to have found some new friends!  And we get to run and encourage each other on our new journey to fitness.
So I'm thinking I'm not quite so unfit anymore.  I could definitely be fitter, but looking back at the past year...I'm pretty proud of where I've come.  If you told me a year ago I'd be able to run three miles I would have laughed.  Now I have my eyes set on running an official 5K and then going from there.  I'm not going to say I'll ever be a marathoner...but who knows what the future may hold.
So that's my quick update!
PS - A big shout out and an "I'm so proud and inspired by you" goes out to my friend Michele over at Dodging Acorns as she's running her first 10K today.  You go girl!