Choose Kindness

This post is admittedly going to be different than others I have written in the past, but I think it is the most important of them all. Health is so much more than being physically fit or seeing that “magic number” on the scale (By the way, do yourself a favor and throw your scale away. Seriously. Throw. It. Out. Not because you’re afraid of what it says, but because it can’t tell you anything important about yourself.). True health is about a positive unity between your mind, body, and spirit. So many people focus on spending hours in the gym, carefully measuring out portions in the kitchen, or scrupulously marking down progress in notebooks that they forget how important it is to work on what’s going on inside the mind. And really, that’s where true progress really starts.

When I was growing up, my mom always used to tell me, “Thoughts are things.” Her point was that your thoughts ultimately create your entire reality. And it’s so unbelievably true! How you perceive yourself, how you perceive others, what you perceive to be threatening or exciting — these things make up your world. You can change your body, you can change your house or your car or your clothes, but real change starts from within. A few years ago when I struggled during training for my first half marathon, I eventually realized that altering my thoughts and taking all the pressure off of myself ultimately led to having one of the greatest, most rewarding experiences of my life. It wasn’t just about how far I could run, it was about feeling the joy of being alive. That lesson is true for absolutely everything in life. Maybe you’re someone who feels continually frustrated with your body. Or maybe you are someone who has finally reached a goal weight, but now you find yourself more miserably tied to schedules and macros and the scale than you ever were before. The solution is this: Understand that life is too freaking short to be unhappy. Adjust your thoughts and always choose to come from a place of kindness.

What do I mean by that? I mean that whenever you start to pass judgment on someone (whether that’s yourself or someone else), take a step back. Are those thoughts coming from a place of kindness? Are you adding something positive to the world by thinking them? If not, stop them in their tracks. Think about the situation with compassion. It’s important to understand this because thoughts induce action. When you start thinking kind, everything inside of you starts to shift. You start to glow from the inside out, and it affects everything in your life. That doesn’t mean that life is always easy. It doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to have sad days. But it means that you actively work to see the positive in a situation and in others. Eventually, it becomes automatic. Remember that fear gives power to things that are not real. Focus on what is real and good. When you feel gratitude, you start to see the little miracles in every day. I know this post may sound a little hippyish, but honestly, who cares? Joy is the most important facet of life-long health. Period.

The point I’m trying to make is this: when you are ready to stop the self-sabotage, when you’re ready to commit to living your best life, when you’re ready to radiate happiness, start by choosing kindness. Tell yourself and believe that You Are Enough. You are not on this planet to simply exist, you are here to LIVE. And living starts with positivity. Listen to my mom because she’s always right: Thoughts are things. :)

I’ll leave you with this thought from a book called “A Course In Miracles” that really resonated with me: “A miracle is never lost. It touches many people you do not even know and sometimes produces undreamed of changes in forces of which you are not even aware. The miracle will always bless YOU.”  There is nothing to be lost from being kind. It will only positively impact you and those around you. And if you ask me, that’s pretty darn cool. Here’s to a life filled with peace, love, and happiness.

And as always, Remember to breathe.

Look for the beauty in every day.

Look for the beauty in every day.

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Living

Happy 2014 everybody! While I whole-heartedly believe that every day is the best day to invest in health and happiness, there’s nothing quite like a new year to inspire a fresh start. Until now, I haven’t said much about plant-based living in this blog, but it’s hands-down the best decision I’ve ever made. So, if you’re considering making a change this year, read on to learn more about how veg life can help you achieve your fitness goals!

Image

Hi, Miriam! <3

For some reason, no one ever believes me when I say being a vegan athlete is both easy and affordable. Let’s be honest here: I rarely have enough patience to make meals requiring a prep time longer than 15 minutes…so when I say it’s easy, I really mean it’s easy. For those who don’t know, dietary veganism (as defined by those smarty-pants contributors at Wikipedia) is the practice of abstaining from including animal products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, and other animal-derived substances) in one’s diet. Before I share the major details, grocery must-haves, and two deliciously simple recipes with you, I think I should first address the biggest question: Why Go Vegan? 

I have to preface this whole post by saying that since we’re all built differently, what works for one person might not work for another. But from a health standpoint, veganism rocks. In addition to increased mental focus, many people experience dramatic improvements in athletic performance, faster recovery times, and more restful sleep. It’s possible this is because plant-based foods require less energy to digest than meat or dairy, so the body is able to be more efficient. More interestingly, an overwhelming number of people have reported that switching to a plant-based diet helped them recover from an eating disorder. This is particularly relevant to binge eaters; Even though it’s certainly simple to create scrumptiously unhealthy vegan desserts, many convenience trigger foods are eliminated. That’s not to say that veganism can CURE an eating disorder, but it’s possible it could aid in the recovery process. Other benefits of a vegan diet include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. Pretty rad, right? Of course, all of these things rely on eating balanced meals. This website offers easy solutions for the most common obstacles people face when eliminating animal products: http://www.vegkitchen.com/nutrition/vegan-athlete/.

One of the greatest benefits of adopting this lifestyle is the positive effect it has on mental health. I won’t dedicate too much time discussing the ethical and environmental impact of going vegan in this post (though I strongly encourage everyone to educate themselves by watching Earthlings for free HERE), but eating animal products can have a huge impact on depression. It’s no secret that factory farming is a pretty disturbing business. Phrases like “Free-Range” or “Fed a vegetarian diet!” mean practically nothing because regulations on these terms are so loose. The animals still suffer abuse, and when stressed they release hormones and other toxic substances that remain in them all the way to your plate. So, essentially you’re ingesting those hormones into your own body. With that in mind, it makes sense that so many folks feel a much greater sense of peace and happiness after switching to this lifestyle.

So, now that you’re well-versed in some of the perks of being plant-fueled, I think it’s about time to answer the 4 major questions that most people ask. Here we go!

1.) But Where Will I Get My Protein??!?!?!?!:

 You probably already know that beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds are the main sources of protein for a vegan. There’s also tempeh, tofu, and other soy products if that’s your thing. But did you know that vegan protein powder exists too? These types of powders are actually extra awesome because most of them only have one ingredient rather than a lot of the sugars, soy, or other random additives that can be found in many whey or casein options. It takes trial and error to find the kind that best suits your taste, so here are a few to consider with the brands I recommend most (all available on Amazon):

A.) Brown Rice Protein- I recommend SunWarrior brand

B.) Hemp Protein – Nutiva

C.) Yellow Pea Protein – Now Sports

D.) All-In-One Nutritional Shakes – Vega. I can’t recommend this brand highly enough. The shakes have several flavors, no freaky ingredients, are low in carbs and sugar, and are absolutely DELICIOUS. They’re great for travel because you can just add water, but I usually have mine with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it is literally like getting to drink a chocolate milkshake every day. It’s pricier than some other brands, but for the taste and quality, it’s worth it.

2.) Aren’t vegans weak and scrawny?

Only the ones who don’t work out or eat properly. Whether you’re an endurance runner, body builder, triathlete, or a regular gym rat, you can dominate your workouts and crush your goals while being vegan. If you need proof, just look at the pros. Scott Jurek, author of the well-known book “Eat and Run”, is an elite ultra-marathoner; Alexander Dargatz was the 2005 Body-Building World Champion; Dave Scott is a six-time IronMan Triathlon World Champion; Edwin Moses is a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist in Track and Field. So…. No, vegans aren’t weak and scrawny.

3.) What do vegans eat? Isn’t it expensive?

You can eat SO MUCH as a vegan! So many people think that this lifestyle is too extreme or too limiting, but I can honestly say I have never once felt that way. In fact, I eat more variety and delicious meals than I ever did as an omnivore. Think about some of your favorite dishes…Ok, got them in your mind? Chances are they can be easily veganized. Take tacos for example: Instead of meat you can heat and crumble up chickpeas, tempeh, or seitan (a type of wheat that is scarily similar in texture to beef) and mix it with some taco seasoning. Throw it on a warm tortilla with some guacamole, vegan cheese, and veggies, and you have a delicious mexican dinner. It’s really easy to recreate your favorites, especially since there are a lot of vegan substitutes for things like butter, milk, and cheese. Or if you’re cooking and need to use eggs as a binding ingredient, you can mix 1 TBS of flaxmeal with 3 TBS warm water and it works the same way. There really, truly are so many options. *Helpful Tip: Try to always keep homemade veggie burgers, Lara bars, soups, or other leftovers in the freezer for use on days when you’re traveling or in a rush*

As for cost, it’s actually about the same or cheaper. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already a pretty healthy eater. You likely already buy fresh produce and nuts, which are the most expensive items. Non-dairy milks such as Coconut, Almond, Rice, or Soy are comparable to regular milk, maybe about a dollar more expensive. The major difference is in the protein source. Depending on where you shop, a pack of chicken breasts will cost anywhere from $4-8. A can of beans costs $.80. That’s a pretty significant amount of savings, and if you buy in bulk you save even more. I suppose it could be more expensive to eat a plant-based diet if you were to go out and buy a ton of faux meat products…but eating excessive processed food isn’t a great idea anyway– vegan or not. Embrace those leafy greens!

Image

Did someone say leafy greens?! Mmmmmm.

4.) Why don’t you eat eggs and milk?

The answer to this really depends on the individual you ask. Some of the reason is because of the stress hormones I mentioned earlier. A lot of it is because many people are lactose averse without even realizing it. Humans are the only species that drink milk after childhood, and we’re not even drinking the milk of our own kind. That’s a little weird, isn’t it? For a lot of people, eliminating dairy gets rid of bloating and digestive issues. There’s also been a lot of research that shows milk not only leeches calcium from your bones, but is also linked to cancer (*Note: It’s pretty easy to get adequate calcium from plant sources like kale, broccoli, or collard greens). For the majority of vegans, however, the choice comes down to ethics. Cows are impregnated repeatedly so they’ll continue to produce milk, but when they give birth, their calves are immediately taken from them and slaughtered. The conditions for both egg-laying hens and dairy cows are not compassionate, and when their production slows, they’re sold to slaughter houses as well. So basically, the egg and dairy industries are immediately tied to meat production, and that’s a major reason why vegans choose to abstain.

5.) OK, But Where Do I Start?

If you’re considering giving veganism a try or if you just want to learn more about the food system, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed about where to start. Don’t worry, the internet is your best friend. Here’s a list of great resources:

Films:

Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, Food Matters, Food, Inc. (Most of these are available to stream on Netflix)

Blogs/Organizations: 

Mercy For AnimalsOh She GlowsPost Punk KitchenVegan LunchboxVegan Outreach (Note: While I am not personally a supporter of PETA, they do offer a lot of handy food information that is great for new vegans HERE)

You can also follow me on pinterest where I post a lot of dinner and dessert recipes: http://www.pinterest.com/jentoyourhealth. There are a ton of great books out there as well, such as the 30-Day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick Goudreau. Once you have an idea of what sorts of meals you want to make, it’s time to hit the grocery store. Everyone likes different things, but here’s a basic list of some of my grocery must-haves to give you some ideas:

Fruit:  Apples, Bananas, Berries, Unsweetened apple sauce, Raisins/Dates
Veggies: Carrots, Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Onions, Bell Peppers, Cauliflower, Sweet Potato, Broccoli
Beans: White, Black, Chickpeas, Lentils
Dairy Alternatives: Almond milk, Earth Balance (vegan butter), Daiya (Shredded cheese), Canned coconut milk
Miscellaneous: Quinoa, Hummus, Oatmeal, Bread (Check the label for eggs/honey), Coconut flour, Flax meal, Tempeh or Tofu if you aren’t avoiding soy

Now that you’ve got the building blocks, I challenge you to give veganism a try—even if it’s just for a week! You never know what something is really like until you try it. Ok, ok, I know this post wouldn’t be complete without a couple of recipes, right? Both are simple, delicious, and filled with protein. Enjoy!

JP’s 4-Bean Chili

Ingredients:

  1. 1 TBS olive oil (to sauté with)
  2. 1 onion, diced
  3. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  4.  1 Green and 1 Red bell pepper, diced
  5. 2 cans diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  6. 1 can tomato paste
  7. 1 cup marinara sauce or 1 can tomato sauce
  8. 2 TBS chili powder
  9. 1 tsp cumin
  10. 2 tsp black pepper
  11. 1 tsp red pepper
  12. 1 can chili beans (do not drain)
  13. 1 can black beans, 1 can white beans, 1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)

Directions:

1.)   In a pot, sauté onion, garlic, and bell peppers until onion turns translucent

2.)   In a separate bowl, combine the 2 cans of diced tomatoes with the can of tomato paste

3.)   Add tomato mixture and all other ingredients to the pot

4.)   Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

 

Spinach and Broccoli Chickpea Curry

Ingredients:

1.)   1 TBS olive oil (to sauté with)

2.)   ½ onion, diced

3.)   2 cans chickpeas or beans of your choice (I sometimes like to use cannellini)

4.)   2-3 garlic cloves, minced

5.)   1 TBS ginger

6.)   1 tsp curry powder

7.)   1 can lite coconut milk (*Note: you must use the canned kind, not the kind from a carton!)

8.)   1 cup marinara sauce or chunky salsa

9.)    1 cup of chopped broccoli

10.) Handful of torn spinach

Directions

1.)   In a large skillet, heat oil and sauté onion and garlic.

2.)   When it turns translucent, add all other ingredients EXCEPT spinach

3.)   Cook 20 minutes, stirring often until thick

4.)   Add spinach and cook until it wilts

5.)   Serve on a bed of lettuce, rice, or quinoa

Image

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2014! By the way, I’m always available by comment or email if you have questions or need advice, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

And as always, Remember to breathe.

Fit For Life

The days are getting shorter again, and if you’re on the east coast like me, you’re experiencing winter’s familiar chill. It’s that time of year when your brain starts to go into hibernation mode and your motivation to work out goes straight out the window. So, how is anyone supposed to stay motivated?! Well, I’mma share three (not-so) secret tips with you:

  1. Do what you love
  2. Keep your routine fresh
  3. Listen to your body and your schedule.

Do What You Love: Sure, you can start a 60-day fitness program. Yes, you can plan to slog your hours away on a step-mill every week.  But if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’ll never stick with it. Long-term health and happiness relies on finding the activities that you enjoy, and figuring out how to integrate them into your daily routine. Life is short; Why spend it forcing yourself to do things you don’t like? (And if you don’t like working out at all, try exploring a bit. There truly is something for everyone.) Of course there are going to be days when it’s harder to get to the gym than others — that’s normal. But I can promise you that if you enjoy your workouts, it’s going to be a heck of a lot easier to get your brain on board than if you’re dreading what’s in front of you. And on those days when your bed is super warm but you know it’s going to benefit you mentally and physically to get your body moving, give this mantra a try: “Don’t think, just do”.

Now, I’ll admit, when you’re training for a specific event, occasionally you have to do things you don’t want to do. (Hill sprints, anyone? Blargh.) That’s just part of the game. However, ask yourself why you’re training for that event or that goal. Know it beforehand so you can draw from that during the hard times. As Coby Linder from Say Anything once said, “when your ‘why’ is strong enough, you can tolerate any ‘how’”. For me, I know that if I have to incorporate a less-awesome workout in my training, but it will help me reach my goal and it’s only once a week for x amount of weeks, then I can totally deal with that. The biggest thing is to sign up for events that you’ll actually enjoy training for. If you’re going to hate the process, why choose that particular goal? For example, I’ve had people tell me they hate running, but they want to run a marathon. K, well, why? Do you want to learn to love running, or is it just that you want to say you did it? Do what will make your soul happy. This summer, I had the most amazing time training for my Olympic Triathlon. There were a LOT of early mornings and a LOT of long workouts on weekends, but I had more fun than I’ve ever had training for anything because I loved what I was doing. Yes, sometimes it was rough getting up at 5:30 am to go on a 2-hour bike ride before work; but, once I was cruising along watching the sun rise, I was all smiles. In the end, reflecting on all of the quiet weekends spent in the lake and on the roads makes me just as happy as reflecting on race day. It’s all about finding what you love.

Who wouldn't want to swim here?!

Who wouldn’t want to swim here?!

Keep Your Routine Fresh: Depending on your goals and your schedule, try changing up your routine a few times per year. Maybe during the winter, you spend more time in the gym lifting, taking fitness classes, or doing at-home workouts. In the spring/summer, you can get outside more and go mountain biking, or hiking, or swimming. In the fall, you can enjoy the fresh breezes and enter a 5k, or take an out-door yoga class. Or, if you’re a gym rat year-round, try out some different lifting/cardio routines a few times per year. Whatever you need to do to keep your workout from getting stale. Your muscles and mind will both appreciate the change.

Listen to Your Body and Your Schedule: This really ties into what I talked about at the beginning of this post. Always listen to your body and give yourself options. If you’ve had 4 hard workouts in a row one week, and everything is screaming at you to stay in bed on the 5th day, then stay in bed! If you’re scheduled to have a heavy lifting day, but you really feel like doing yoga instead, then do yoga! Respect yourself enough to listen to what your body wants and respond accordingly. The same thing goes for fitting workouts into your schedule. If you know that it’s absolutely impossible for you to get up early when it’s dark outside, then find a different time to do it. Do some pilates in your office on your lunch break, take a kickboxing class after work, or break up your workouts into 15 minute sessions and spread them out throughout the day. Work WITH yourself instead of against yourself. This goes for training too. When I looked up triathlon training schedules last spring, I didn’t like ANY of them. I knew they wouldn’t work with my schedule or my body, so I made my own. It all comes back to knowing yourself, and doing what works best for YOU.

IMG_3102


Keeping a workout schedule where you can easily see and edit it is an easy way to both stay motivated and re-work your plans if something comes up.

If you want to be fit for life, learn to do what you love. What sorts of activities are you planning to do this winter? Do you have any tips to share? Comment or email!

And as always, Remember to breathe.

Speed Workouts for Runners

Whether you’re training for an endurance race, trying to improve your 5k time, or just looking to spice things up, speed workouts are a useful addition to your routine. That’s why I’m sharing TWO excellent workouts to help you reach your goals: “30-20-10 “and “Over-Under”. To give you an idea of the benefits of these drills, last year, I slashed 2:30 off my 5k time in less than 2 months by incorporating the 30-20-10 drill into my routine once a week. So, read on, running friends!

I LOVE fall, but apparently it's already a little too chilly for shorts. My legs were so red after my long run!

I LOVE fall, but apparently it’s already a little too chilly for shorts. My legs were so red after my long-run this morning!

The “30-20-10″ Workout: 

This routine takes about 25-30 minutes and is best performed outside, though you can certainly do it on a track or treadmill if that’s your preference. To kick it up a notch, find a place in your neighborhood with a bunch of hills and get those legs pumping!

Warm up:  5 minutes @ comfortable pace

Round 1 :

5 sets of

- 30 seconds running at comfortable pace. A little faster than a jog

- 20 seconds @ race pace

- 10 seconds sprinting

After completing Round 1, take a 2 minute walking break.

*To clarify: you only rest after a full round is finished –there is no resting between individual sets. So, once you finish sprinting for 10 seconds, immediately drop back to a comfortable pace for 30 seconds, then go @ race pace for 20 secs, then sprint for 10 secs, and so on until you have completed 5 sets (5 minutes).*

Repeat for a total of 3-4 rounds, taking a 2 minute walking break between each round.

Cool down: 5 minutes

Fall is the happiest of all running seasons :)

Fall is the happiest of all running seasons :)

The “Over-Under” Workout:

 This routine is best performed on a treadmill, unless you own a Garmin and are able to track your pace. Performing 4 rounds takes about 50 minutes.

Warmup: 10 minutes at comfortable pace. 5 minutes into the warmup, do four 20 second pickups with 30-60 seconds jog between.

Round 1:

4 minutes @ 15-30 seconds faster than race pace

- 4 minutes @ 15 – 30 seconds slower than race pace

- 1 minute walking break

Repeat for a total of 4 – 8 rounds

Cool down: 5 minutes

*Note: It is important to be consistent through this workout. If your race pace is a 10 minute mile, then run a 9:30 for 4 minutes and a 10:30 for 4 minutes every round. If you find what you’re doing is too hard or too easy, you need to either recalculate your race pace, or adjust the number of rounds you do.

There ya go! I don’t recommend doing both of these workouts in the same week unless you’re a more advanced runner. Generally, one speed workout a week is enough. Now, lace up those sneaks, give these a try, and let me know what you think!

Happy fall!

Happy fall!

And as always, Remember To Breathe. 

NASM Certification

Hey friends!

Just wanted to give you all a quick update of some exciting stuff to come for this blog: I finally took the leap and am working toward becoming an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist! As I’m doing this on top of a full-time job and jam-packed training schedule, it will be a few months before I take the exam, but once I do, it’ll mean very exciting things for all of you! So, keep checking back for updates and please feel free to comment or email me with anything you need in the meantime.

Thanks for your readership :)

 

And as always, Remember to breathe.

First Time Triathlon Tips

I completed my first triathlon last weekend and it was such a blast! I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people seeking tips for their own training, so I figured it’d just be easier to blog an answer. Here’s what I learned throughout my process:

1.) If you don’t know something and you don’t have anyone to ask, YouTube it. Can’t take swimming lessons? There are YouTube videos that can show you how to perform a proper swim stroke. If you’ve never put on a wetsuit before, watch an instructional video. I had a lot of questions about little details, but didn’t have a lot of people I could ask, so YouTube was really helpful for me.

2.) Don’t stress about the transitions. I walked through my transition plan a couple of times the night before my race, and that was it. Make a checklist broken up by discipline, including everything you’ll need. For example:
Swim: Cap, goggles, wetsuit, body glide (oh yea, make sure you buy BodyGlide. It’ll keep you from chafing)

Bike: Helmet, sunglasses, shoes, socks, watch, water bottle, GU

Run: Race belt, bib #, hat

Other: Bath towel, hand towel, Nalgene, sunscreen

I made myself a little diagram of how I’d set up my station, and on race day it was easy to double check that I had everything. Lay out everything strategically on a bath towel, and plan out how you’ll run through it.

Transition

Sample transition set up

Tip 1: Make sure you have a water bottle and hand towel so you can wash your feet off after the swim. Nothing is grosser than stuffing wet, sandy feet into a tight pair of sneakers.

Tip 2: Have your sneakers untied so they’re ready to go. Not only does it save time, but if your hands shake when your muscles are fatigued, it’ll make things easier for you. 

Tip 3: When you rack your bike at the start, put your bike seat on the rack so that your front tire is on the ground. Then put your helmet and sunglasses on your handlebars. Saves time.

Tip 4: Get a race belt or have some other type of cheap belt you can pin your bib to. It’s a lot easier to snap on a belt than to try futzing with pins when you’re in a rush.

Swimming in open water:

This one can either be scary or fun, it completely depends on your mind set. I went into my race with a calm mentality, telling myself to take my time, breathe, and keep up a steady swim stroke. For me, and I know this is true for other beginners, putting my face under water and seeing blackness causes panic. Especially when surrounded by hundreds of other swimmers and everything is chaos. I didn’t bother putting my head under water during the race, even though I knew it would mean being slightly less efficient, because I knew I’d be better off. If you’re an elite swimmer, this is probably not a problem; For me, I wanted to be able to see and breathe at all times. I kept my breathing the same as it would be for a normal pool swim, but I knew that keeping my head above water would help me hit my stride and stay calm. Do whatever works for you. There were about 600 people at my race, but luckily the swim waves were split by division so I only had to battle 50 people at once rather than everyone at the same time.

open water 2

Waiting anxiously for the start :)

open water

And we’re off!

Tip 5: Practice swimming in a wet suit

I did not have access to a wet suit or open water until a couple of days before my race. Everything turned out perfectly fine (I actually placed first in my division!), but if you can practice beforehand, it’ll be helpful. Swimming in open water in a wetsuit is much harder than pool swimming in a bathing suit. Oh, and the biggest tip of all: NEVER EVER RENT YOUR WETSUIT ONLINE. I made the mistake of ordering through triwetsuitrentals.com and it was not a good experience. They couldn’t ship it to me when I needed it, so I got it right before the weekend, and it didn’t fit. I found this out when I did a practice swim and practically drowned. It felt like I was being wrestled under water by a relentless small child. When I emailed the company in a panic because my race was in 2 days, they just told me it was the right size I just needed to try and work the material onto my appendages differently. Ummmm… No. When water is rushing in through my wrist and ankle holes, and there is a giant air bubble around my hips and waist no matter how I try and work the suit up, I’m telling you it is TOO BIG. Plus, the material was really low quality. Fortunately, a shop about 45 minutes from me had one left in my size, so I ordered it the day before my race. Luckily it was perfect because I had zero time to practice in it. So, yeah. Always rent local and practice in your suit.

wetsuit

I looooved this suit. My kitty gave it her sniffs of approval too :)

Biking

Just invest in a decent bike, guys. A lot of online resources tell you to borrow your friend’s old Huffy bike or something like that for your first race, but if the terrain is tough, you will be miserable. At the very least, rent a road bike for the big day. I’m not a bike connoissuer by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, I’m a minimalist when it comes to sporting equipment (one of the many reasons I love running so much is the fact that all you really need is a pair of sneakers) but I can assure you that you will have to work 10x as hard on your ride if you’re battling a crappy piece of equipment. I bought a Trek a couple months ago (about $600) and it completely changed my view of cycling. I fell in love with the sport simply because I finally got to be outside on a bike that worked with me instead of against me. If you’re not into biking and you don’t want to invest in something you’ll never use, then just rent. I saw people riding old dirt bikes, and I will tell you that they suffered a lot on hills. If you’re looking to buy, your best bet is to go to a shop and have them fit you for something. You can tell them your price point and they’ll work with you. For brands, I know that Trek, Fuji, Felt, Defy, and Specialized are used by a lot of people. Beyond that… well, you’re better off asking a seasoned cyclist. #BikingNewbie

bike

Love <3

bikeride

Note: I did actually purchase this picture, I just haven’t gotten the edited one back yet. I don’t condone thievery!

Running

Running

Note: I did actually purchase this picture, I just haven’t gotten the edited one back yet. I don’t condone thievery!

Ironically, running was physically the hardest part of the race for me because the first 1.5 miles were straight uphill. But I didn’t even care because I was so happy about what I was accomplishing. My best advice is to just take your time. Ignore your brick legs, ignore any fatigue, and just smile. I guess it’s different if you’re trying to actually win, but if you’re more interested in just having a fun race, don’t put pressure on it. I’m not sure what else to say about this part… running a 5k is pretty straight forward.

race

Success!

Fuel

Fuel is always a personal preference thing. I had a slice of toast w/ a little jelly 3 hours before my race, and a banana 1 hour before. I used GU during the bike ride and had a Vega Protein Shake to recover. The day before endurance events I always hydrate like a beast, and have pasta or some type of starchy carb for dinner. Find what works best for you, everyone is different.

The most important tip I can give is: just have fun. When you stay calm, put a smile on your face, and let yourself zone out into that athlete mentality, everything is a lot better. That’s all I’ve got for now. There are tons of websites out there with information written by elites, but I know how much I wished I could talk to a novice before my race, so feel free to ask me any questions you might have!

And as always, Remember to breathe.

Triathlon Training Diaries – Week 4

Today’s the last accountability post! If you’ve been following along and emailing me your progress, thank you and keep going! Week 4 was a tough but rewarding one for me. We went up in difficulty level last week, and I definitely felt it! Here’s what went down:

~21 mile interval bike 1-2 levels harder than last week. Lots of hills.

~ 3 mile interval run: 5 minute warm up, 2 minutes @ comfortable pace, 3 x 5 minutes @ 7.5-8 mph/ 1 minute @recovery pace, 3 minute cool down

~ 15 mins HIIT w/ suicides in between stations

~15 minutes abs/stretching

watch

Our workouts are getting longer apparently

Challenges:

1.) I didn’t feel sore until Wednesday’s spin class came around. My coach said, “So, who feels their quads today?”. I shrugged and thought, “I feel fine. What’s he talking about?” Theeeen we started pedaling. Holy. Crap. Ouch. I still haven’t warmed up to biking. I really really WANT to love it, but I’m just barely tolerating it right now. I know that part of the problem is the fact that we’re inside, and the other part of the problem is that my coach doesn’t really put on motivating music. John Mayer is great, but not when you’re working out.

2.) I don’t think the cycling pants I bought make any difference. If anything I felt more sore. Oh well!

Successes:

1.) Changing what/when I eat has definitely helped. Eating a small dinner a couple hours before practice and then taking a GU halfway through seems to be a smarter way to go for now.

2.) I’ve totally fallen in love with swimming. This makes me really happy as the whole point of signing up for this adventure was to become a more well-rounded athlete and to become a better swimmer. I’m excited to keep getting better and to practice in a wet suit.

So, that’s it for the accountability posts for a while! I hope that you’ve all been making great strides with your own goals, and that reading along with my journey has helped you to keep trucking along too. Thanks for checking in and please feel free to keep emailing me! I’m always happy to help however I can, even if it’s just to lend an ear. :)

And as always, Remember to breathe.

Triathlon Training Diaries – Week 3

Week 3 of triathlon training is done and oh dear, the dreams have begun. I’m a little surprised that they’ve started so early since I still have several months before my race, but pretty much every night in my sleep I find myself swimming around obstacles (??), or biking across hilly terrain. Anyway, I hope you’ve all been working hard toward your own goals, because now is the time to really push for what you want. Here’s my week 3 recap:

Most things were kept pretty much the same. We did the same swim workout as last week, and only minor things changed for our biking and running drills. Unfortunately, our HIIT portion got cut short halfway through on Monday because one of my teammates sprained her ankle. Yikes! This week we did:

~ 40 minutes spinning intervals

~25 minute run w/ 5 minute warmup, 2 mins at comfortable pace, then adding .1 to speed every minute. (ex. if you started at 6 mph, after 5 minutes you’d be running at 6.5 mph)

~HIIT – 20 secs on/10 secs recovery

~15 mins pilates/abs

I also bought (hopefully) better  goggles and a pair of padded cycling capris… Not really sure how I’m going to run in them, but it’ll be an adventure.

bike pants

Cycling pants have a weird little bike seat shaped pad in them. My kitty was obviously curious too.

Challenges:

1.) There aren’t enough days in a week to be able to do everything. I really need to add another day of swimming, but the only way to do it is to add it to one of my lifting days and lap swim at my gym is EARLY on weekends. Meaning I will a.) have to give up my one day of sleeping in and b.) will smell like chlorine through my whole workout after. But reaching goals requires certain sacrifices, and these ones aren’t really too bad.

2.) I want to train outside!! It’s great being able to do things indoors considering it’s been -10 all week, but I don’t really know how my workouts are going to translate outdoors. I’m riding 20 miles with varying degrees of resistance on a stationary bike twice a week, but how much does that really mimic the hills of the course? And doing swim drills are great, but will technique really matter when I’m battling hundreds of thrashing swimmers in a wetsuit and open water? There isn’t much I can do till it’s warm, but I’ve been thinking about this issue every day.
Successes:

1.) I’m definitely seeing improvement each week!

2.) I’ve started to really love swimming. Maybe it’s the way you have to control your breathing, or the weightlessness of it, but it makes me feel really calm. I’m really excited to keep learning and getting more efficient. So, that’s 2 for 3. Biking is still just tolerable right now, but I suspect it’ll be more fun when I can get outside.

That’s pretty much it! How are you all doing with everything? Anything I can help with? There’s only 1 more week of accountability posts, so make sure you stick with it, and keep visualizing that success!

And as always, Remember to breathe.

Triathlon Training Diaries – Week 2

Another week of Triathlon training has come and gone. As always, there were ups and downs, but I learned a lot. Did you all stay on track with your own goals? Here’s a rundown of my week:

Monday’s HIIT portion was absolutely one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done – yes, harder than Insanity and GORUCK training. Mostly because by the time we get to the HIIT part, we’ve already been doing intervals for over an hour. We unfortunately had a blizzard on Wednesday, so I didn’t have class that day, but I was tired anyway so perhaps that was for the best. We also started swimming this week, which went much better than I expected.  Last night, I started doing research and watching YouTube videos to get a feel for how the transition stations are going to go. It made it feel a LOT more real, and now I know it’s time to really get focused, be strict with my nutrition, and start building my mileage back up. Here’s a breakdown of our workout this week:

~ 40 minutes spinning intervals, 1-2 levels harder than last week

~ 25 minute interval run (10 minutes steady run, 3x 2 mins @5k race pace/2 mins @recovery pace, 5 minute cooldown)

~20 mins HIIT (Hard to explain this one. Basically it’s 8 stations of things like burpees, box jumps, tricep dips, etc. You do 5 rounds of 15 secs on/5 secs rest for each station. After every 2 stations, you do 5 rounds of: sprint up and back the length of the room, 5 pushups. Then go straight into the next station without rest.)

~ 15 minutes pilates/core work

Challenges:

1.) When you transition from one discipline to another in the same workout (Swimming to biking, biking to running, etc.), it’s called brick training. I’m convinced it’s called this because that is exactly how your legs feel.

2.) Figuring out nutrition is always challenging. Not just what/how much to eat, but WHEN to eat. I’ve decided to start going light on dinner and having a protein shake after class, even though I don’t like eating anything after 9, because having protein before a workout just does not work well. Being vegan poses its own unique set of challenges, but if Brendan Brazier can be a pro-ironman on a plant-based diet, I’m pretty sure I can do this.

3.) I found out you’re not allowed to have headphones on the course! The bike isn’t a big deal I guess, but I hate running without music. They give you a 2-minute time penalty, but since I don’t really care about time, I might just do it anyway.

Successes:

1.) When I put my swim cap and goggles on for the first time I was SUPER grouchy because they’re uncomfortable. I kept looking longingly at my running shoes, wondering aloud why I was doing this. But I knew what I was really feeling was just anxiety about the swim. My anger faded immediately when I got in the water and realized, “Ooohhh, this gear is actually totally helpful.” I also feel like swimming is really similar to pilates in a lot of ways. I’m definitely not going to be challenging Michael Phelps to a race any time soon, and I probably look more like a flapping duck than a mermaid in the water, but I feel much better about it. Glad to have a coach, a team, and a few months to learn technique.

swimgear

Phase 1 of swim-wear, Phase 2 = full wet suit

2.) Despite being a little grumpy when I got up this morning, I was able to get in a really great 4-miler and pilates class. The run felt so blissful that I wanted to do 5, but I figured I should give it another week since I haven’t done much above a 5k in a couple months. I can’t wait to be able to do bricks outside, and to start loving the other disciplines too.

So, that’s pretty much it for this week. How did you all do? Have you changed your goals at all, or figured out new tactics? I was really happy to see some positive emails from you guys, so keep them coming. I’m going to be posting 2 more weeks worth of training diaries, so stay accountable!!

And as always, Remember to breathe. 

Triathlon Training Diaries – Week 1

Week 1 of accountability is complete — how’d everyone do? Hope you are all working hard toward your goals. The first week of my triathlon training was awesome. Here’s a recap:

I headed to the gym on Monday night feeling both anxious and excited. I had no idea what type of people were going to be in the class, and I only had a rough idea of what we’d be doing for 2 hours. I decided to snap a photo to document the mild trepidation:

trepidation

This is my “I’m not sure what to expect” face

It turned out to be really fun! There are people of all ages and ability levels in there, and the course is great because it allows everyone to go at their own level. This week we did: 40 minutes spinning, 2 mile run, 25 minutes HIIT, 15 minutes pilates and stretching. Monday was my first time taking a spin class and it was a little boring because we were listening to ’70s disco and I’m not a huge fan of stationary bikes in general, but Wednesday was much rowdier and way more fun. Anywho, here are the top challenges and successes from the week:

Challenges:

1.) I’m so lucky to have a job that I love, but it’s also #5 on the Most Stressful Jobs of 2013 list for a reason. By the time 7:30 rolls around, I’m exhausted and it takes a lot of psyching-up to prepare myself for a long workout.

2.) Bike seats are super uncomfortable. I need to buy those little bike shorts with pads in the butt.

3.) I was supposed to go to my first swim practice on Thursday, but I fell asleep on the couch!!! I guess I was tired, but jeez. That never happens.

Successes:

1.) I was in charge of making the workout playlist on Wednesday, and somehow every song lined up with what we were doing. Having 20 people work out to bands like Something Corporate and POTUS, and hearing them keep yelling “I LOVE THIS PLAYLIST!” was a mega win. I’ll post half of the playlist below incase anyone is jonesin’ for some new tunes. Fair warning: Some terrible pop music makes an appearance.

2.) My coach came over to me during the HIIT portion, patted me on the shoulder, and said “Wow. You’re tough.” I dont typically care what other people think, but it was still nice to make my coach proud.

3.) Working out with a team is so much fun!

So, that was my week in a nutshell. How about you? Did you stay on track and get closer to your goals? What were your challenges and successes? Keep sending me those accountability emails, you guys have some FANTASTIC goals! And don’t forget, you can always post things in the comment section too– you never know who else might be going through the same thing. Catch y’all next week!

And as always: Remember to breathe. 

Werk-It Playlist

1.) Mike Doughty – “Madeline and Nine”

2.) Counting Crows – “American Girls”

3.) Owl City – “Hello Seattle”

4.) Hawk Nelson – “Bring Em Out”

5.) DJ Khaled – “All I Do Is Win”

6.) Yellowcard – “Always Summer”

7.) Justin Bieber – “Beauty and a Beat”

8.) Presidents of the USA – “Kick Out the Jams”

9.) Cartel – “Let’s Go”

10.) Alex Goot – “This Kiss”

11.) Jessie J – “Domino”

12.) Third Eye Blind – “Semi Charmed Life”

13.) Something Corporate – “Watch the Sky”

14.) Katy Perry – “Wide Awake”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: