Resolution Recap

In lieu of making New Year’s resolutions, I made resolutions just for January. With January coming to a close, I think it’s a pretty good time for reflection.

Exercise three times per week:
I’ve been doing great with this! Except for one week, when I was sick, I swam, biked, and ran my way through January. I loved taking advantage of swimming almost every day while I spent time with my family in Florida. While I love the campus gym, nothing beats running through sunny days and swimming when it’s 80 degrees out. It was a great time!

I’m hoping to continue the trend by participating in a campus fitness challenge with my roommates. Participants earn points by attending exercise classes, rockin’ the cardio equipment and weights during open rec hours, and receiving free health assessments and personal training. I’m really excited. Working out with other people is always motivating and I love combining socializing with exercising. My two favorite things in one go? It’s a necessity for every time-pressed person.

Eat a little bit better: Although I admit I fall back on sugar for an energy boost sometimes, I only had two cups of coffee for all of January! I’ve also been eating yogurt almost every day and slurping down orange juice (well, sipping, in polite company). I’ve also become quite creative at the dining hall. Today, I had a hummus wrap with spinach, romaine, honey mustard, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes. It was fresh and satisfying, and definitely a new favorite in my rotation.

 

Work toward completing 50 push ups:

Okay, I admit one incomplete resolution. I was so psyched to complete push ups that I overdid it and advanced too quickly through the program with poor form. I only made it to week two before my back was killing me and I had to stop. I’m signing up for personal training sessions (free! I love student perks) in February to learn how to do things properly. The Internet is a wonderful resource, but sometimes you need a real live human to make things work.

Some January photos courtesy of my snazzy new iPhone:

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I went for some bike rides with my dad. It was just as cheesy as it sounds, but I love hanging out with my family. (We also pledged to eat healthier together and ate tons of yogurt and spinach that week.)

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My parents dropped me off two miles from where we were staying on my birthday. (At my request, of course!) I sprinted back and finished just as the sun was setting. It was a perfect end to my twentieth birthday after mini golf and classic 50s burgers and fries for a late lunch.

January was great, and I hope 2013 continues the positivity and energy that flowed in for me this month.

 

Quality Over Quantity

I’m so excited to be finishing off the first week of 2013 on a positive note. I’m finally feeling healthy again, I’m soaking up tons of vitamin D while I’m with my family, and I’m keeping up with my resolutions!

I finished the first week of the hundred push ups challenge successfully. 152 push ups done so far! Hurrah. However, I’m thinking of bumping back to column two to improve upon my form.

I’m all about quality over quantity! If I’ve got a choice between a large amount of milk chocolate or a small amount of dark chocolate, I’d much rather enjoy the bitter, rich taste of dark chocolate. I think that with push ups, If I’m more focused on great form, they’ll be more effective.

Pushing through push ups simply because of pride doesn’t make sense. I’m doing this for me — so there’s no shame in stepping back and assessing what’s right for me at the moment. If it means scaling back my push ups so I can focus on form, I’m completely okay with that.

Here’s to quality experiences for the rest of 2013!

One Month Resolution

I believe you can do anything for a month. Well, perhaps I should rephrase: anything that’s not morally bad, or harmful to your body, and I assume it doesn’t involve anything truly awful.

That’s what’s in the stuff of normal New Year’s Resolutions. They seem noble, but attainable. Somewhere, in my imaginings, I can see Future Me attempting and actually sticking to them.

I’m a firm believer in positive visualization. See yourself succeeding, and you succeed, and everything that comes with success is largely due to preparation. I humbly point toward Oprah for the great idea of vision boards.

Goals are achievable if you quantify them. Name your enemies and what’s going to stop you: then, get past them.

I believe it takes a month to form a habit, and habits are easier to keep than resolutions. So, in lieu of New Year’s Resolutions, here are my goals for just January:

Exercise three times per week: I love exercising. Nothing is more awesome than the rush of endorphins after a good sweat session or the contemplative meditation on a long run. You’d think that because I love it so much, it would be easy to work out. Ah, if only. Stress and a lack of sleep mean I get sick quite a bit. Since I am unfortunately not one of those people for whom exercise kicks their immune system and helps them fight off light colds, getting sick can sidetrack me from my fitness goals for weeks at a time.

It’s not pleasant, but I can do everything in my power to prevent it. Healthiness needs to be a priority.

How I’m going to tackle this:

I need eight hours of sleep at least six out of seven nights per week. If this means setting back everything I do earlier and unplugging my laptop earlier, I plan to stick to it.

I’m also going to practice yoga at least once weekly. Focusing on breathing and clearing my head makes me feel wonderfully less stressed after.

Eat a little bit better: I’d like to phrase this a little more carefully, since it’s so important. Eating better can be interpreted as choosing baked over fried food, forgoing dessert (or, more likely, eating fewer desserts!) and cooking for myself more often instead of relying on school food options.

I’m also going to eat more yogurt (the power of probiotics!) and orange juice (yay for vitamin C).

How I’m going to tackle this:

More time at the vegetarian section of the dining hall (they have pretty good, healthy options) and stocking my fridge with only healthier items. Once I finish giving away all the iced tea in my fridge that’s there right now….

Work toward completing 50 push ups:

There was once a time where I could crank out forty push ups without struggling. I’d like to regain my good form and killer arm muscles again.

How I’m going to tackle this:

I tried the hundred push ups training program once before and loved it. I completed 25 push ups with good form before I got sick. I completed only 12 for the initial test today. This puts me in column three. I can handle four weeks of column three.

I think I can get to 50 push ups in 2013.

Scratch that — I know I can.

Do you have goals for the month, or for 2013? What helps you stick with them?

Sidetracked

I’ve been sick for over a week now, and I still have a persistent deep cough. Frustration!

I was doing well and chugging orange juice like I was a sponsor for Tropicana, so most of my symptoms have gone away.

(And in case you’re wondering, Googling “is it safe to exercise with a cough?” over and over does not change the search results. I tried.)

I have asthma, and regular exercise has been a great way to strengthen my lungs. But once I’m stuck with a cold, I feel like it’s forever before I can work out again. I jogged to the dining hall and it felt like an awfully far distance. I told myself to stop being so stubborn and to listen to my body (ignoring my body has brought me trouble many times before).

Even though I can’t be exercising right now, I’m still trying to be mindful and healthy. I cram my meals with whole grains and orange juice. I’ve been researching new treadmill workouts to try (love this one from FITNESS!)

On the bright side, I have plenty of time to enjoy all the goodies from the 2012 Student Communications Career Conference! It was a wonderful experience thanks to the New York Women in Communications Foundation.

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Do you have any get-quicker-faster tips?

I try to sleep so much that my roommate tells me I resemble Rip Van Winkle.

Class registration just ended! What’s the coolest class you’ve ever had?

I’m super excited for my Evolution of Women’s Magazines class next semester!
 

Back Into the Swing of Things

My concussion over the summer certainly put my fitness goal out of whack. I waited a long time to start running again. I felt rather unlike myself.

Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I love it. I’m running again (slowly), biking, and enjoying the elliptical. I’ve missed writing, too, and it’s nice to be back.

I’ve been trying to read more lately, so the other day I read Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Hoole. It’s a Kerouac-inspired road trip about two girls trying to find proof of God’s love…and their list of where to look includes church, old people, drugs and sex. It’s an intriguing, thought-provoking read.

Kindle + gym = mind + body workout! It’s all about balance for me this month.

Do you read when you go to the gym?

I would always try to balance magazines on the ledge of machines, but they end up falling (I keep trying, though!). The Kindle is a nice addition.

The Universe Gives Answers, Maybe

I’ve been having a rough time lately.  This is through no external problems (I love my family and friends), I’ve just been going through a weird headspace for about two weeks now, and lately it’s especially hard to deal with. 

I swam laps to work off the frustration with myself, but it wasn’t helping.  I swam hard and fast, but I still felt like crying (okay, I did cry) underwater.  I shouted under the water, I floated and tried to relax, I blew bubbles; nothing seemed to help. 

Now, I love water.  Being in the water always, always helps me, even better than a run, sometimes.

When I couldn’t take being so frustrated any more (I had a feeling somewhere between feeling like I was going to implode and like I was going to disappear…simultaneously), I swam to the side.  I clung to the brick wall and said, “God, please.”

Now, I’m not religious.  I’m not sure I believe in a specific god, or if I believe in the universe, or something, but sometimes, when I’m lost, I just need to say something, to just blurt out a cry for help.  And that was what came out.

I swam half of another lap and stopped at the edge, contemplating getting out.

Then I saw a frog floating in the water.

It was brown; its eyes were closed.

I screamed.  My dad was nearby:

“What?”

“Aaagh!  Frog!  A frog!  I think it’s dead!”

The frog opened its eyes and started swimming.

I scrambled the hell out of the pool.

Don’t worry, we fished it out with a net, and it was fine.  It hopped away.

It was small, and it looked like a young frog (its legs looked newly formed), but to be honest, I don’t know much about frogs, so I couldn’t say for sure.

My dad had it trapped under the net, and I said, “What are you doing?  Just let it go.”

Just let it go.

I don’t know if this is just some sort of metaphor for my day, or what, but the whole thing shocked me into laughter and now I feel like I might not implode or disappear.

That’s always a good thing.

Small Steps

Well, I’m back from vacation, and before I start talking about how incredible the trip was (with lots of photos), I’d like to talk a little bit about beginnings.

Running is not easy.

I talked with a friend today who was considering starting to run, but was discouraged for reasons I’ll not list here.  So many people are discouraged or worried when starting running (or any exercise, really), if they are new.  I love chatting about races and half-marathons, but my newbie days are still that…new. 

Now that I have a concussion (l was in a minor car accident while I was away), I’m not going to be running for quite a while.  I haven’t exercised at all for two weeks and *just* started water jogging today.  Small steps.

But you know what?  That’s what it is, in the beginning.  As a runner, you are always talking small steps for improvement.

Like much of the world, I recently read the cover story of The Atlantic in which Ann-Marie Slaughter speaks about “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” an excellent article which you can read here if you haven’t already.  It’s well worth the time.

One of her points was that women should think of their careers as plateaus, not as a ladder.  I strongly agree with this (and as a bit of a workaholic, and a woman, I think I should talk about this in another post), but I also think it applies to running.

Many competitive athletes will rise and rise and rise again and keep besting their abilities and pushing their talents.  These people are incredibly dedicated and talented, no doubt, but I’m speaking to the hobbyist, human runner.  You know, those people who have time-consuming jobs (but doesn’t everyone), or families with little kids to raise, or an intensive relationship, or are building their first home, or [insert anything that takes up time here].

Most of us, however much we love running, cannot dedicate our lives to running.  It is simply a facet of our personalities, and for some, a way of life.

I have a history of being injured.  Not necessarily from running, but life tends to get in the way.  I become sick frequently, I tore my Achilles tendon, I have weak ankles, and now, two weeks ago, I was in a car accident and I have a concussion as a result.

With me getting injured so much, it’s hard not to get discouraged.  After the time off, I’ll have lost a lot of progress and in order to let my body adapt in a healthy manner, I’ll have to think like a beginner.  No matter how fast I ran my usual route before, I’ll have to take it slowly.

This is not a bad thing.  It’s good to have a little perspective on how far you’ve come.

But it can be very, very frustrating.

So I’m thinking of my running career lately as a plateau.

I ran a little as a beginner, got much faster when I joined lacrosse, and then plateaued, as I focused on my stick skills and ball drills.  Running wasn’t as important as my ability to catch and cradle at the time. 

I returned to running during the off-season to become a better player, achieving my fastest mile time yet, but then I got injured and plateaued again–I had to put running on the back burner and I focused on my studies as I looked toward college.  When I healed, I had a strong season of running, but I got sick frequently during the fall.  While my strength didn’t drop, I just focused on maintaining and hoping I could make it through the Disney Princess Half-Marathon.  I plateaued there as I took a break to work on my studies (I pour myself into my academics and make my class schedule much harder in the spring for some reason). 

I took a break to enjoy being home, and started running again, running much faster 2-mile negative splits.

Now, the concussion.  I’m trying to look on the bright side and taking this time of being sedentary to focus on my writing, cherish my family, go on lots of dates and even plan a party, things I tend to lose focus on when I train my body hard.

So.  Plateaus.  You’re not falling off the ladder if you’re injured–you’re plateauing.

Anyway, I’ve spoken to so many people who have said: “I can’t run because I’m a couch potato/overweight/a sprinter/not flexible/too old” or some reason or other.

I am generally an agreeable person, but here I say: NO.

You can do this.  I firmly believe that almost ANYONE can start running, regardless of age or experience or body composition, as long as you start gradually and build slowly.*

I feel so strongly about this since I was always NOT an athlete. I was always the last person picked for sports teams in gym, person lapped a zillion times during fitness tests, could barely run down the block, much less a mile. I was also overweight (not extremely, but enough to make me feel drained even walking up some hills). I’m not saying this to be all woe-is-me or anything, but just to show you about how far I’ve come.

When I started to run, I had ZERO DESIRE to run AT ALL. I thought runners were on crack or something. I just wanted to prove to the world that I could do it, that I could run a mile (or more). Like sage, my mile when I was younger was around14+ minutes. If you listen to your body and you integrate things slowly (couch to 5k is awesome and I have coached several of my friends using that program), you should be able to do it. It’s just important to go slowly.

And I was totally afraid of running outside when I started. I have the club on the indoor track of the gym for the same reason. There’s this self-generated feeling of invalidity (that I still get sometimes, honestly, it’s hard to think of myself as an athlete despite how much I run/swim/whatever) when I used to run outside that people would make fun of me, or even just me plodding along was not a victory in itself (which just reeks of hallmark card, but I’m going to leave it out there, because it’s damn true).

But once I got over some fears and pushed past my but-I’m-not-an-athlete thoughts, to prove myself, running changed my life in ways I never thought it would.

Starting is difficult. It may suck in the beginning, and it can test your patience. Like some things, I’ve found it easy to fall in and out of love with running. It takes work, and time, and dedication.
^You could replace running with writing in this paragraph, one of my other passions, and it would still fit.

So I say: Get out there.  Try, try, try.  It takes a long time to fall in love with running.  I’m not going to say you get a runner’s high right away, or your legs become svelte the second you finish your first three mile run.  It’s a process, and the process is a continuing one.

But I believe in you, and you should, too.

*Please consult a physician before you start running.  I am not an expert; these are solely my beliefs.  Please do your research!  I highly recommend the Couch-to-5k program for its gradual approach.  You can find it here.

In Which I Finally Leave the Hotel Room

We went to the public market at Granville Island yesterday.  We found a cool little music shop that had a bunch of instruments I’d never even heard of before.  One of them was a sound cradle:

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The owner was incredibly nice and demonstrated several of the instruments.  With one person sitting in the sound cradle, another stands behind them and plays the strings on the sides of the cradle like a harp.  The effect is a soothing, breathtaking surround sound.  It was very, very awesome. 

He also demonstrated singing bowls, a giant gong (which had to be one of the coolest and scariest sounds I’ve heard in my life…completely mystical), and explained various instruments’ healing powers.  The sound cradle, for instance, is used in Germany to wake up coma patients.  He told us that in one study, a man who had been in a coma for 6 months woke up after 30 seconds or so of sitting in the sound cradle…how cool is that?!

Since my current project is a manuscript regarding healing music, I found all of this especially interesting.  Here’s the link to Gandharva Loka.  I can’t stress enough how awesome the man (owner?) was.  He told us he spent several years traveling and encountering people who were looking for specific, exotic instruments, so he decided to start a shop to cater to them.  Looking at the website, it says the shop will be featured on June 25th on House Hunters International!  (Which I spent about four hours last night watching…House Hunters can be addicting).  Thumbs up for a cool business.

After wandering around the market (where I splurged on a 3-section notebook from Paper-Ya), we took a photo of the Vancouver skyline:Image

There was a cool art show around the market using recycled art, so of course my mom and I took a silly photo.  Traditions.

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There were cool art sculptures everywhere:

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We then headed to Chinatown, where I bought some flipflops (I forgot to pack mine!) and a cheap notebook (no way was I going to scribble in my very pricey notebook, which is becoming a nice, neat reference book for two manuscripts).  I’m writing in pencil, too, just in case I decide to change some details.  I’m ridiculously excited about the graphing section.  I can finally draw some (accurate!) maps and not lose them!  This is going to be so great.

After Chinatown, we headed to the Empire Landmark Hotel to go to the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon expo.  Even though I wasn’t running the race, I still wanted to check it out. 

Whoa, this expo was super tiny!  I nabbed some (Canadian) running magazines, a free smoothie, and the good workers from The Stick had me roll a little on my head.  Yes…on my head.  It did feel nice, although I don’t know if it helped with the concussion or if the Tylenol just kicked in….

We walked back to our hotel and stopped at A&W for some burgers.  (By the way, my entire family is STILL on East Coast time, so we ate dinner at like 3 pm…the time difference to Vancouver is just enough to be frustrating, but not enough for our bodies to sync up with the new time!  Days feel sooooooo long (we’ve been getting up early and going to bed early…going to bed at 11 last night felt LATE!)Image

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I thought the fries in mini fryers were super cute!

Mmm, I love root beer.  I don’t usually drink soda, but root beer is my exception.  It’s my “it’s going to be a fun time” drink.  Really.  So going to A&W was a novelty; I’d never been.

After watching several hours of House Hunters, House Hunters International, and House Hunters Great Escape, I headed to bed.

It’s off to the cruise (and Alaska!), hurrah!  No internet for the next week or so…do you like being cut off from the internet on vacation? 
I enjoy it sometimes, it’s nice to take a break occasionally, but I like keeping in touch with back home.  (and calling internationally is sooo expensive!)

I’m sipping complimentary chai tea and feeling cool.  Tea: yay or nay?

An Unexpected Rest Day

So…I ended up not going to the park yesterday.  In fact, I spent most of yesterday in bed.  My head hurt so much.  Not going into detail here, but I basically lived in the hotel room for 1.5 days and did not leave.

Well, I attempted to leave, and we went up on the hotel’s roof:

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You can see the mountains from the hotel!  Crazy awesome.  I love our hotel’s location in downtown Vancouver.

I had a pounding headache.  I started to feel really, really dizzy and thought going to the park was a bad idea.  So I spent the day in the hotel room (sigh).  It is a nice hotel room, though, and my mom was nice enough to bring me a sandwich from Finch’s!

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Edam, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Yum.

And raspberry and brie for dinner:

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Delicious (the brie is sooo good), but I think I prefer the salty, slightly bitter sandwiches over the sweet ones.

I spent the day feeling reaaally dizzy if I turned too quickly, and with a throbbing headache.

Totally love vacations like that.

I made the most of it with an ice pack:

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Although that morning I walked about a block, thinking I *might* be able to run, I quickly threw that thought away.  Better to take a week (or more, if needed) and completely rest than end up having to take several months off!  I’ve made that mistake before…yikes….

Have you ever been injured on vacation? 
I had a broken wrist in Florida once…I still rode all the roller coasters.

What do you do on a rest day?

I read, edited, and watched a lot of Supernatural (new guilty pleasure!).

The Land Up North

Woke up at the oh-so-late hour of 3:30 am yesterday to catch a flight to Vancouver, BC. Yikes. Luckily, I did have a window seat so when we flew over the Rocky Mountains it was INCREDIBLE. Top 10 wondrous sights I’ve seen in my life, easily.

Unfortunately, on the way to the hotel, we were in a minor car accident while in the cab. We were stopped at a light, so the car that rammed into us from behind wasn’t going *too* fast, but I feel like I have brain whiplash and my head is killing me. Not exactly a great start to the trip!

Free internet at this hotel (yay), so after some quick research online, we decided to go to Finch’s Coffee and Tea House for sandwiches. It’s a cute little cafe place with fresh baguettes and sandwiches. I ordered the blue brie with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. It was sooo good and flavorful. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the Vancouver area! There is a generous wait for sandwiches (not much staff makes the sandwiches), so if you’re in a rush, beware.

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Seriously, that sandwich was so good. My roomie just told me the other night that it’s a good thing I love to run and exercise, because I talk about food like it’s my third hobby…she might be right.

I woke up really early (5:30 am) because a phone kept ringing next door. Agh. I tried to go for a run at 7, but I felt really blaaargh and dizzy just walking, so I’ve decided to take some time off and not risk it. As I’ve learned, it’s better to take seven days off and feel 100% rather than push it and have to take several months off!

So we’re off to Stanley Park and general sightseeing today! Woo!

What’s the first thing you do when you’re on vacation?

Do you pack snacks for plane rides? (I brought a pb sanwich, a chocolate croissant, tea bags, Sun Chips…yeah, prepared!)