This year my husband surprised me with a trip to Iceland to run the Suzuki Midnight Sun Run for my 30th birthday. I think I just might be the only person who would want to be surprised with a running race. Anyways, I thought it would be fun to share the video he gave me on my birthday to tell me about the trip (SWIPE to see the entire movie)!
When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that something is always better than nothing. You get results based on what you do the majority of the time, and sometimes life gets in the way. You need to allow for flexibility when circumstances aren’t optimal. For example, maybe the only vegetable you eat with dinner is the few leftover celery sticks from lunch. Or perhaps you have an early morning meeting and just barely have time for a quick at home workout before you leave for the day. If you can’t do something all the way for a legitimate reason: your child is sick, weather, work project, etc., it doesn’t mean you’re lazy. You may think, if you can’t do something 100%, what’s the point of doing it at all? But here’s the thing, life happens and things don’t always go according to plan. Just because your workout isn’t as long as you’d like, or you weren’t entirely on point with your nutrition, if you do the best with what you have and choose the healthiest option available to you in that moment, you will continue to progress toward your goals. The real key to success lies in consistency of practice, and for that reason you must find peace in the fact that something is always better than nothing.
Last week, my mom told me about a cleanse she did with her yoga studio, and as part of it stopped drinking coffee for a few weeks. My initial reaction was, “I could never do that”. The idea of giving up coffee seemed overwhelming. Personally, I drink two cups everyday, and get a headache when I don’t have it (it’s bad, I know!). Going without coffee seems impossible. My mom explained that originally she didn’t think she could do it, however, that it wasn’t terrible because they tapered off coffee in small increments. Switching out ¼ of a cup of regular coffee for hot water (or decaf) every two or three days (then 50% regular coffee/ 50% hot water/decaf, 25% regular coffee/75% hot water/decaf, etc.). After she broke this overwhelming goal down into doable tasks, I realized it actually sounded like something I could do (I’m currently giving it a try and have successfully transitioned to 50% regular/50% water). Here’s the thing, you can do almost anything if you’re willing to make incremental changes over time to achieve them. For example, you’ll be healthier if you quit smoking. But if that seems like too much to do right now, remember that you are also healthier for each cigarette you don’t smoke, so try smoking one less cigarette a day. I’m not opposed to massive change, it works for some people. But it causes most people to give up before they ever start. They just don’t think they can do it. What these people don’t realize is that they could make small, daily changes that would soon lead to big results. What steps could you take today to move toward a big outcome?
I think walking is such an underrated activity. Like many of you, I have a desk job, and (unfortunately) am sedentary for the majority of the day. I’m lucky in that I can walk to and from work, and am also able to get outside for a few minutes during lunchtime to walk around the block. But if it wasn’t for all this additional walking, my only movement each day would be from my morning workouts. Personally, I love to incorporate walking into my daily life. Why? Because it feels good – helps clear your mind, enhance your fitness, eases joint pain, and is even a proven mood booster. One of the best parts about walking is that it’s not intimidating, no warm up is needed, and you don’t have to mentally prepare. You simply get up and walk out the door. Often time, people don’t go to the gym because they’re intimidated. People don’t know what to do and are scared of looking dumb. So they don’t go. That problem doesn’t exist with walking. It’s so simple and that’s why I love it. Not everything has to be hard. You can use the time to think, talk on your phone, listen to a podcast. So if walking isn’t part of your daily routine already, I would highly suggest you add it in. Just go outside and walk every day. Walk to the store, walk to the gym, walk to dinner, go for a walk with your family, just walk. #yesimwearingadadhat
Grocery shopping is the only type of shopping I enjoy. Seriously, give me the choice between any clothing store or a trip to Trader Joe’s, and I'll take the later anyday. I can’t really make sense of why I love it so much, because I really don’t like to cook. If anyone can make sense of that, let me know. Anyways, although I try to mix up my produce selections each week, there are a few items that almost always make their way into my cart. So, what’s in my grocery cart most weeks?
1️⃣Frozen Veggies. I typically find warm foods more filling, and for that reason opt to bring a bag or two of steamer bag veggies to eat while at work. Whipping up a bag of frozen veggies takes no time and is extremely simple (even I can do it!). Plus it’s low calorie, high volume, and will leave you feeling satisfied. Buying frozen veggies is also a great way to save money. My favorites are califlower rice, butternut squash, and broccoli.
2️⃣Pickles. One of my absolute favorite foods. Dill pickles are low in calories, containing only four per spear (just be careful of the sodium content). They’re a great option if you crave salty snacks like chips- having one or two of these usually hits the spot.
3️⃣Avocados. I always throw a few avacados in my carts. I add them to my salads, use instead of butter on my sweet potatoes, or mix with tuna. They are filled with healthy fats helping to keep me full for longer.
4️⃣Kale. I buy a few bags of kale every week. I LOVE making kale chips (mainly because they’re easy), I throw a bag of kale on a pan and eat that as part of my dinner most nights.
5️⃣Condiments. You can completely change your meal just by changing your condiments. If you choose versatile, basic proteins, starches, and vegetables, you can then rely on fun sauces, salsas, and spices, to keep your meals interesting. Recently I’ve been loving tahini and coconut aminos.
6️⃣Dark chocolate. I have a piece of dark cholate every single day. I have to have dessert each nigh, and dark chocolate is my go-to treat.
On a few occasions I have had friends and coworkers tell me they want to make a change and asked for my help. However, once it came time for them to take action, I was met with one excuse or another for why now just wasn’t the time. Here’s the thing, I believe that when someone is ready to start their fitness journey they will walk away from an unhealthy meal, rather than waiting for a fresh start on Monday. They will get themselves to the gym and allow no obstacle to get in their way. We all have that friend or coworker who always has something go wrong for them; they’ll complain to anybody that will listen about how the world is out to get them, how different their life would be if it wasn’t for those darn outside forces. Don’t be that person. This excuses mindset will hold you back in achieving your fitness and health goals (as well as your life goals!). It’s hard to admit to ourselves when we could be doing something better, but it’s the first step to a more fulfilling life. Once you’re willing to stop talking about it and take the first step, no matter how small, the real journey will begin. All you have to do is commit to the first thing. It’s important to dream big, but to get there one day, you will first have to get started.
Often times, nutritional advice seems confusing. Fortunately, overthinking nutrition is completely unnecessary. Recently I’ve been posting “What I Eat In A Day” on my Instagram Stories, and I think from seeing what I eat on a daily basis, you may be able to guess that my number one tip for improving health (and losing weight) is to eat real food. It’s as simple as that. Eat plenty of produce; be mindful of your calorie intake, and don't eat too much junk food. That's all the average person needs to know about diet. There are no secrets, no magic pills. Choose foods that will allow you to thrive, and try to make most of your meals from foods that don’t need ingredient labels. Most of my meals are made up of TONS of vegetables. Incorporating lots of green leafy veggies allows me to eat lots of food. Along with veggies, I also incorporate healthy fats and lean protein to keep me feeling full for longer. If you eat healthy food, mostly vegetables, you can eat a LOT, and it's much more filling than any processed food. I think the author @michael.pollan put it best: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Like many gym enthusiasts, I find stretching to be boring, and would much rather spend my time on strength training or cardio. Why stretch when I can be putting in real work? And, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. There’s a premium placed on strength and power, and as a result anything that has to do with mobility or stability feels like a waste of effort, but (as you may be aware) quite the opposite is true. Having a full range of motion actually helps you perform your regular workouts with better results. All the joints in your body are interconnected, if one joint lacks mobility, the body will figure out a way to compensate, which creates instability at another joint. Loosening tight and overworked muscles can reduce your risk for injury and chronic pain. I turned 30 this year, and although I’ve never been super flexible, as you get older, flexibility and mobility start to decrease even more. I know that if I want to continue working out for years to come I have to make stretching a priority. If you’re anything like me, and would rather be doing burpees until your body hurts than taking that time to stretch, here are a few tips, I used, to make it part of my routine:
1. I stopped using the excuse that I didn’t have time. Remember, everyone is busy. Stretching needs to be a priority.
2. Account stretching into your total workout time. I now ensure that 15 minutes is available at the end of every workout that I can use to stretch. I workout in the morning so that means I know I have to be finished with my workout by 7 AM, no matter what. This leaves 15 minutes to stretch before I have to hop in the shower and head to work.
3. Squeeze in a few 5-10 minute mini sessions throughout the day. Along with stretching right after my workout, I also stretch and foam roll when I get home from work. If you take a close look at your day, I’m sure you will find a few pockets of time that you can use to stretch.
4. Try to attend a yoga class once a week. I go to a yoga class at a local yoga each weekend. If a studio isn’t an option, check to see if your gym has yoga classes on the schedule. If not, there are tons of videos online!
If you love to run and love to lift, you don't have to choose between the two. The most frequently asked question I received while training for my last marathon, was how do I incorporate strength training into my running routine. Personally I love both, and know that juggling the two can present big challenges! So if you love running, and love lifting, here are my top tips to incorporate both:
1️⃣Lift around your long runs. Time your weight training around your runs. My strength training program looks different when I’m training for a marathon versus when I’m not. You need to tailor your resistance training routine to your marathon goals. This includes adjusting the frequency of your training with your running schedule. The two should complement each other rather than compete. For example, as you increase your mileage, the intensity of your resistance training routine will (likely) need to be reduced, allowing you to continue strength training while not overloading your body.
2️⃣Don’t (strength) train lower body the day before a long run. Strength training the day before a long run can make for some tiring miles the next day. Get your higher intensity/heavier strength training in a few days before your long run to allow your body to recover.
3️⃣Strength train on hard days. No matter the distance for which you are training, endurance training abides by a simple rule: keep your hard days hard and your easy days easy. This will allow your body to better recover.
4️⃣Listen to your body. There are some days I have strength training on the schedule but I’m too sore from my long run to have a useful workout. In those instances, I adjust my workout accordingly. I would much rather get to the start line of a race healthy than injured because I pushed my body too far.
5️⃣Don’t compromise your recovery. It's imperative that you give your body time to repair the damage incurred during training. You need to allow your body an opportunity to recover as effectively as possible, so when a rest day is scheduled, take a rest day.