Motivation Monday: Start Small

Life is overwhelming. From our every day To-Do lists to our goals and dreams, the anxiety of stepping out to tackle all that life has to offer can stop you in your tracks. No one knows this better than me. Just in the last week alone, I have been overwhelmed five times. Seriously! Cleaning the house put me in a tailspin because I worried over what room to start first. Creating a meal plan for my new color-coded diet took me two hours because I felt like I had too many meals to categorize. And don’t even get me started on this website. Do you know how many blog ideas I have in my head? I have started them all, but finished none. It is often paralyzing, and results in unfinished chores and missed deadlines. (Yes, this Motivation Monday post is officially a week late!)

I tend to focus on the big picture. I want to see the end result. I want to reap the benefits. Who doesn’t? But if we’re so focused on looking ahead to the finish line that we stop taking steps forward, we’ll never complete the race.

There is one common factor that can help us in achieving all of our aspirations, no matter the goal. START SMALL.

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It has been said that one of the top habits of a successful person is their ability to start small. Katie Ledecky is an Olympic swimmer from the US, who holds the current world record for the 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle. She began swimming at the age of six. Although she was born into a family of swimmers, Katie couldn’t swim the length of the pool at such a young age. Although she was determined to get to the other side, she often had to hold onto the rope for help. Did that make her less of a swimmer? No. She knew that in order to reach her destination, she had to continue forward even if it meant slowing down, reassessing her focus, and occasionally reaching out for help. Her small, yet persistent beginning has taken her to her second Olympics, where she continues to succeed.

Like Katie, I also want to reach the other end of the pool, so to speak, on several goals. But the difference is that I seem to always ungracefully jump into the water and then flail around somewhere in the middle. There is no forward movement, no focus outside of the end results, and I never reach out for help.

In order to overcome the sense of being overwhelmed by our goals, we must think on a small scale. What plans to you have? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to better your health? Do you just want to get your house clean and organized? Let’s think about how we can ‘reach the other end of the pool’ in these types of scenarios.

Most small businesses start with brainstorming. Many of us can dream up ideas. But did you know that there are steps forward in the brainstorming process that we should take BEFORE we advance to the ‘next section of the pool’? When we’re in this initial phase, we should slow down and take the time to focus on questions like, “What could go wrong with this business and how would I solve it?” and “What are the main things I want my customers to know about me?” After you have considered all of the questions that may arise about your business in general, then move onto to the next step… gathering resources. This may be your opportunity to ‘grab the rope’ by reaching out for assistance. See the pattern? Small, slow, and steady progression forward.

When it comes to my health, I don’t want slow and steady progression! I saw a quote yesterday that read:

“Two days into my diet and I’m still not skinny? This is bulls#!*”

Right? I want immediate results. Don’t you? And that is the number one reason why most diets and exercise plans fail. We jump in… all-in… with no small steps planned. We would be better off setting smaller goals. Want to lose 30 pounds? Your first goal should be 10, and only 10. Interested in a 5K? Your first goal should be one mile. Once you’re comfortable with that distance, then you can focus on two. Need to change your eating habits? Pick one thing to slowly remove and replace it. Cookies to fruit. Chips to carrots. Don’t try to give up everything at once. And most importantly, reach out for help! Have an accountability partner. Download an app to use. Join a group in your community with similar goals. All of these things are small steps toward your ultimate goal.

For me, instead of looking at how unorganized my entire house is, I have decided to focus on one room at a time. I am not going to rush. I am allowing myself one week per room. I will start small and take the slow and steady forward approach, beginning with the room that I use the least and work toward my busiest, most cluttered space. Being able to finish one room will not only give me the satisfaction of completing a small goal, but it will also motivate me to tackle the next, more unorganized, area of the house.

Let’s make a promise that the next time we’re feeling overwhelmed by our big dreams and lofty goals, instead of abandoning them, we’ll continue forward, slowing down from time-to-time to reassess our focus on smaller steps, and reaching out for help when needed. Big things are in our futures!

Beat the Heat: 5 Tips for Runners

A Guide to Running During the Summer Months

Here in North Carolina, it’s quite common for our summers to be very hot and humid. This summer in particular, we have had a record number of days over 90-degrees. It’s no secret that I love warm weather (And by warm weather, I mean that triple-digit temperatures makes me happy!) but even I struggle with enjoying outdoor workouts during this time of year. If you’re new to running, it’s usually the first week of consistently warm days that is the hardest, and makes you question if you want to continue running at all. PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP! Ask around and you will quickly learn that the most seasoned runners struggle in this kind of heat too. It’s harder on our bodies to adjust to warm weather, but with the right approach, you can beat the summer heat. Here are five quick tips that are sure to help.

1. Hydrate — Make sure that you’re drinking plenty of fluids. The recommended 64 oz of water per day won’t cut it. You’re going to need more. You’ll want more than just water. And you’ll need to drink more often than the day of a run. For me, I have found that during the summer months, I drink around 100 oz of water per day. Additionally, I drink a minimum of 16-20 oz of Nuun the night before a run, as well as immediately after a run. It is important to drink an electrolyte – Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium – replacement to replenish what is naturally lost when we sweat. I recommend Nuun because it has no sugar and no carbs. {Compared to Gatorade, which has over 20g(+) of sugar per serving!} Nuun is a gluten free, soy free, vegan, nonGMO, made in the USA tablet that you simply drop down into a bottle of water. The tablet immediately starts to dissolve, creating a fizzy, flavorful beverage. I love that Nuun is completely portable and can be adjusted to your liking. (I often break tablets in half and mix two flavors to customize my drink to the perfect taste.) If you’d like to learn more about Nuun, click here.

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2. Clothing — I have known so many new runners who have rushed out to their local department store to buy running outfits. They’re excited to finally start running and want to look the part. I was guilty of it when I first started. How can you blame anyone? Have you seen some of the running clothes available? They’re so cute! But there’s a big mistake that many of us make: I didn’t like the way my legs looked in shorts, and I certainly wasn’t going to show off my jiggly arms! So, I bought clothes based on how much they covered and how well the outfit matched. What I ended up with was a dresser full of clothing that made me feel miserable during workouts. The material wasn’t moisture-wicking or cooling, and the capri pants were causing me to overheat. Did you know that when you run, you should dress for a 20-degree increase? That means, if it is 70 degrees outside… you should dress like it is 90! Although it was a struggle, I finally learned to put my self-consciousness aside and buy/wear clothing that is appropriate for summer workouts. Here’s a photo of a typical summer run outfit. It’s still cute, right?

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I love the pop of color in my Nike shorts. Running shorts can be tricky. I highly suggest trying on several different styles to find the right fit for you. There are many different lengths and fits to choose from. In my three years of running with strangers, I can honestly tell you that I have never paid attention to anyone’s legs. Stop thinking that everyone will be paying attention to yours. They won’t. Do yourself a favor and buy shorts! They even make shorts with a skirt over them. I own two pair of those. Adorable, functional, and NOT form fitting. You have options!

The same goes for arms. I have never paid attention to, or even compared, others’ arms to mine. All it takes is wearing a tank top to one 90-degree run and you’ll fall in love. My favorite tank is this Brooks black and white geo print tank. The busy pattern camouflages and distracts, and is so much fun! This tank top is also quite long in length, which I love.

And friends, let’s not forget our feet! It is so very, very important to wear good socks to prevent blisters and provide support. I recommend Feetures! They’re a North Carolina-based, family-owned company that offers a lifetime warranty on their products. (Seriously… a lifetime warranty!) They’re the only sock that I wear in the summertime. I even recently wore them on vacation. I was the only person out of our group of six who did not get a single blister. Coincidence? Nope! That’s just how great Feetures! are. Click here to learn more about these great socks.

3. Sunscreen — It’s an easy oversight. When I first started running, I wanted to make sure that I had my earbuds, my cell phone, and my Garmin. Anything else was an afterthought. All it took was one 5K in early June to help me realize that there is more to summertime running than good music. I was sunburned! So now, before I even dress in my cute (yet weather-appropriate) outfit, I apply sunscreen. I personally use Banana Boat Sport 30SPF because it is water resistant… and I don’t sweat it off! I like to take the UltraMist in my bag for touch ups, especially since it also cools and refreshes.

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4. Accessories — Sometimes, it’s the small things that can make all of the difference. Some of my favorite small items that help make summer running more bearable are:
A hat or visor
Sunglasses
Chapstick

accessories

And my all-time favorite accessory…. the Nathan Insulated Handheld water bottle. It slides right on my hand without the worry of having to grip it the entire run, and with one quick squeeze, I can have cold water at my fingertips. Literally. Nathan also makes waist paks, vests, and hydration belts, too. Check them out by clicking here.

nathan

5. Early Morning Workouts — Early birds will rejoice and night owls will cry, but the number one way to beat the summer heat is to get your run in as soon as the sun comes up. (Maybe even before, if you have a safe, well lit place to run.) Even on the hottest days, most morning temps are considerably cooler. For example, the highs for this week have been in the mid-90s but the morning lows have been around 68-degrees. Much better, right? You’ll have an easier run, and you’ll have your workout in before your day even gets started. Think of the extra time you’ll have in the afternoons, too!

If the thought of waking up early to get your run in is absolutely against everything you believe in… there’s always an indoor run on a treadmill. But where’s the fun in that? 😉

Are you new to running? Comment below if you’ve found these tips to be helpful. Are you a seasoned runner? We’d love for you to comment below with any additional tips that you may have to share. Happy Running!

 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I did not received compensation from, nor am I affiliated with any company listed. All products were purchased by me, including giveaways. Opinions expressed here are my own and were not influenced in any manner.

Go Red, for the Love of Your Heart!

Today is the Friday before the biggest game in professional [American] football. Typically, I would be decked out in my favorite team’s colors… not just because they’ve been in the Super Bowl the last two years, but because every Friday is Blue Friday to a 12. (Go Hawks!) This year, though, I’m wearing a different color and it has absolutely nothing to do with football.

While my Facebook feed has been inundated with turquoise and black or orange and blue today, a group of my friends and I decided to wear red. February 5, 2016 is National Wear Red Day – a campaign started by the American Heart Association to raise awareness for heart disease; particularly heart disease in women.

I spent the morning at the Go Red for Women breakfast, hosted by American Heart Association – Triad. I was invited by someone special, my friend Amy, who was named a 2016 Go Red Ambassador for Forsyth County after being nominated by Coach Stacie at Fleet Feet.

Those of you who are familiar with me know that I joined my local Fleet Feet in 2013 as a participant, and now am a Certified Mentor with them. I applied to become a mentor after I had the best experience with my own mentor during my first training program. The experience changed my life, and I promised myself that one day… I would pay it forward.

Amy’s story is pretty incredible. She is a spunky soul with an infectious smile. It is hard to believe that she was once so depressed that she couldn’t get out of bed. I met Amy during Fleet Feet’s Fall 2015 No Boundaries training program. I couldn’t help but to see a little bit of me in her. She doubted herself because, like me, she had zero experience running when she joined No Boundaries. I wasn’t sure what my body was capable of when I began running – I was 40lbs overweight with bad knees – and I knew she didn’t know what her body could do either. (She actually told me that she had never exercised before; she had not even played sports!) I remember struggling in the beginning, and I remember the turning point for me… the day that I accepted the title of “runner” …and I knew this was my opportunity to share my story with Amy in hopes of her having a similar a-ha moment. She would say at the beginning of practice, “I think I will walk today.” and I would reply, “No! Run with me.” What I didn’t realize during our months of training together was that it would all lead to today.

Heart disease has taken a toll on my family most of my life. My maternal grandfather died of a massive heart attack in his 50s, before I was born. My dad had two open heart surgeries only six months apart. My brother is an aortic dissection and stroke survivor. Many other family members suffer with cardiovascular problems like CHF or hypertension. And heart disease scares the daylights out of me. I worry for my family, and I worry for my own health.

Between family history, my turning 40 this year, and hearing the statistics this morning that 1 in 3 women die from heart disease, today has hit me pretty hard. Yes, today is a day of celebrating. I love that Amy has drastically reduced her risks of heart disease and can encourage others to do the same. I am beyond grateful that God allowed my father and brother to overcome their heart surgeries so that they can have opportunities to be advocates for heart health. But today is also a day of awakening. Ladies, we need to fight this together. Heart disease is 80% curable with proper diet, exercise, and screenings.

I am not here to body shame. I have been overweight my entire life and know all about the struggles with self-esteem. What I can’t reiterate enough, though, is that we have to get past our appearance! Let me explain. I get what people mean when they say to be confident no matter your shape. I understand that many factors play into obesity. But this isn’t about our outer image. This isn’t about looking good in your skinny jeans. This is about health! I don’t care what body type you are, you can still be at risk of heart disease. You can be a size 2 and appear healthy, but suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol. So please, no matter how confident you are in how you look, don’t neglect your heart health.

A woman’s heart is such an important organ. Think about it; not only is it the engine that runs our body but it’s the place that stores our dreams, often the director of our decisions, and the generator for all of the love that we give and receive. We have to treasure it! We need to treat it well so that we can change these alarming statistics.

Diet and exercise can seem overwhelming and time consuming, but heart health is quite simple. Follow these basic steps to help reduce your risk of heart disease:

1. Move. The goal is 4-5 times a week for 30 minutes. Can’t afford a gym membership or devote time to a Zumba class? No worries! All you have to do is take a brisk walk. If your schedule doesn’t allow 30 minutes, break it into two 15 minute walks. Take the stairs. Park at the back of the lot when you’re shopping. Just start moving more!

2. Make better choices with food. Don’t consider it a diet, just be conscious of what you’re putting in your body. Healthy food actually does taste good! You’ve seen some of my recipes here on my blog. They’re quick and easy. Eat more veggies. They’re a great substitution for chips. Want something sweet? Try fruit instead of cookies. Select food options with as little ingredients as possible. Watch your sodium intake. Drink plenty of water. Small changes make a big difference, so don’t feel like you have to take drastic measures.

3. Monitor your health. Seeing your doctor regularly allows them to monitor your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, etc. and assist you with keeping everything in check.

4. No smoking! If you smoke and need help stopping, there are many avenues available. You won’t have to attempt to stop alone.

Easy enough, right? Let’s promise to take heart disease seriously. Together we can encourage one another to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. To learn more about heart health, check out the American Heart Association website here. To learn more about Amy, click here. If you need encouragement, want to congratulate Amy on her journey, or just want to chat, please comment below. We would love to hear from you.

Congratulations, Amy!

Motivation Monday: New Year Edition

I’m staring a new series on my blog called #MotivationMonday. On the first Monday of each month, I’ll share some words of encouragement or a helpful hint that will hopefully help us (myself included) prepare for the next 30-ish days ahead. This Motivation Monday is extra-special. Not only is today the first Monday of the month… but it’s our first Monday of 2016.

New Year’s Resolutions often go hand-in-hand with health and fitness. The start of a new year seems like the perfect time to commit to losing weight, to staying fit, or to stop smoking. If you’ve declared a health resolution, your goals may already seem overwhelming today. Maybe you’ve set the bar too high, or just simply don’t know where to start. I understand. Let me share my juicing experience with you…

I have been curious about juicing for two years. A friend of mine introduced me to the idea while we were training for a 5K in December 2013. I often made comments about how sluggish I would feel during the run based on what I had eaten throughout the day. She told me to watch Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. (It’s a documentary about a 310lb man and his 60-day juicing journey.) I have to admit, it took me a while to watch it. Then it took me a while to process the thought of a 60-day all-juice lifestyle. I didn’t care how fat, sick, and nearly dead that I felt… 60 days seemed like a long time to commit to the change in my diet. Nearly a year later, in anticipation of my New Year’s Resolution for 2015, I started researching “how to juice”and learning about all that goes into it. Did you know that juicers can range upward to $500 depending on the model and brand? Yikes! If it was going to take 60-days, $500, and a lot of time to juice, I’d pass!

It wasn’t until I stumbled on an article on Women’s Health magazine online that I realized juicing doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing condition. There are ways to ease into juicing. The article suggested having a breakfast juice with a handful of almonds a couple of times a week instead of the usual cereal or yogurt. This helps juicing become a part of a normal routine, which in turn would hopefully prevent falling off the juicing wagon.

Organic raw juice bars are becoming more common. We recently had one open here in my little corner of NC. If you’re interested in juicing, I highly recommend searching your town for one. It’s a perfect way to try out juicing without investing a lot of time and money into it. Local juice bars also specialize in the right combinations of fruits and vegetable to ensure a great flavor of juice every time. Fresh juice is very alkalizing and detoxifying, and is beneficial without having to go on an extreme cleanse. The best part? Juicing is an easy way to focus on adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. The more you good food that you add, the less room there is for the bad.

So how does my rambling about juices motivate you? I’m hoping it will remind you to:

  1. …not be intimidated by other people’s journey. Allow their story to encourage you, but adapt your journey to your own goals. Be on a mission to live your life, not theirs!
  2. …not procrastinate. The worst thing you can do when you’re overwhelmed is delay your journey for more than a day. Don’t wait a year to seek opportunities. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
  3. …ask for assistance. If you want to try something but aren’t sure where to start, research to see if someone is already doing what you’re interested in doing. For those of you who have always wanted to try a 5K but aren’t sure how to start training, there are running groups in many towns. Consider support groups to help with smoking cessation. Reach out to the community for help!
  4. …ease into change. Don’t feel like you have to jump in feet first with no reservation. If you’re new to exercising, commit to walking twice a week. Want to stop drinking soda? Try adding one extra glass of water to your day until that becomes normal, then add more!

New Year’s Resolutions often fail because expectations are unrealistic. Don’t be a statistic this year. No matter what your goals are for 2016, even if they’re not health-related, know that they are attainable. Stay focused on your journey. Keep a steady pace toward your goals. Don’t try to get from A to Z without adding in the other letters. And lean on your community to help. This is just the beginning. You’ve got this!

Ladies…Don’t be Afraid of Lifting Weights

If I had a dollar for the number of times I have heard “I don’t lift weights because I don’t want to be big and muscular”, I would be a rich woman! I’m here to tell you that you will NOT get big by lifting weights.

Have you ever said this?

“I get bulky when I lift weights.” Or “I need to lose weight so I only focus on cardiovascular exercises.” Or “Lifting weights is for bodybuilders.”

At one time I thought that too. But as I have learned more about exercise and the many different types there are to benefit your body, weight training is one of the key workouts that will help you burn fat and stay lean. The more muscle you put on your body, the more calories you burn at rest. Meaning that, while you are not exercising, your body burns more calories. Plus, the more muscle you have, the less fat you have on your body.

You do not have to lift heavy weights and you do not need to lift weights everyday, but incorporating weight training a few times a week is essential to a fit lifestyle. And the great part about weight training is that you will never get bored. You can try weight machines, dumbbells, kettle bells, barbells with weights, or you can simply use your own body weight. If you are intimidated by weight lifting, have a personal trainer show you some simple exercises you can add to your regimen. Or try a weight training class. Our gym offers Body Pump, which is a full body workout with weights. And you control the amount of weight you want to use.

I like to work on different muscle groups throughout the week. I will do a short 20-30 minute weight routine after my cardio session so I can concentrate on 1-2 muscle groups. It’s best to work out larger muscle groups first, because you can lift the heaviest weights and get an overall harder workout. Start with back and shoulders or chest and back.

Back – overhand pull ups, wide grip pull downs, seated cable rows, bench rows
Chest – bench press, incline bench press, chest fly, cable fly, push ups (on floor or elevated surface)
Shoulders – overhead press with dumbbells, upright rows, lateral raises

You can work on your biceps and triceps on the same day because they are a smaller muscle group and fatigue easier. Try bicep curls, preacher curls, alternating concentration curls for biceps and cable press, overhead press, chair dips and push ups for triceps.

Do this workout for 2-3 weeks then switch it up. Try back and biceps together and chest and triceps together.

But ladies, I implore you, do not use the 3 and 5 pound dumbbells (unless you have never lifted a weight ever). When you are performing 10-15 reps of an exercise, the last few should be difficult. If you get to 15 reps and are not straining, up your weight!

When I trained for my figure competitions, I was lifting heavier than I ever had in the past. And I got leaner than I have ever been. So I’m here to tell you that lifting weights does not make you bigger. It makes you stronger!

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments you may have!