Sunday, May 27, 2012

Waking Up Accountable

Like most of us, I want it all - I want to be accomplished and support myself, I want a fun and fulfilling social life, I want to be healthy and in shape at all times, and I want time for myself to re-boot. Dang though... that's a lot to squeeze in, and as my weeks seem to be getting busier and busier, I just don't have time for it all.

So, about a week ago I decided that I needed to focus on one aspect of my overwhelming schedule and go from there. For me, the exercise aspect seemed to be a good one to address since it fuels and affects so many other things. I'll go into the week with a solid idea of 3-5 evenings I can go to the gym, attend a great class or go on a nice run... but things always seem come up: meetings, social events, working later than expected, being more mentally and/or physically exhausted than anticipated, and so on. Regardless of my calendar though, a regular and consistent  exercise routine is so critical! When that part of my week falls to the wayside, I feel more tired, I have less motivation and drive, I don't eat as well, I have more restless energy, I have trouble sleeping, I feel gross, and I have a really hard time getting back into a more regular workout routine afterwards.

My solution? 
Creating a Monday through Friday AM workout plan as an exercise fail-safe! 
Working in 10-15 minutes of exercise on weekday mornings seemed like a great way to be realistic (since I fail miserably every time I attempt a full 30-45 minute workout in the morning), wake up accountable, get my exercise in even if my evenings fill up, and go into each day feeling great. To my delight, my good friends Hanna Azboy and Emily Adams were feeling the same way. So, we joined forces and created an AM-LDA Plan (AM-Long Distance Accountability) for this week that just came to a end. Yes, there were some snags, understandably, but overall I'd say it was a total success! Each night, we agreed on our workout routine for the next morning (usually via text message or phone call) and each morning/day we confirmed our status of completion (usually via a text message saying "I DID IT!! YEAHHHH!!!").

You wanna play?
Great! Since I like you guys, I decided I'd share what my week of AM workouts looked like....


20 squats

Repeat cycle 2 more times
End with 100 jumping jacks


50 (phantom) jump rope

Repeat cycle 2 more times
End with 50 (phantom) jump rope & 20 mountain climbers


12 lunges (each leg)

Repeat cycle 2 more times
End with 50 (phantom) jumping jacks & 20 butt kicks


50 (phantom) jump rope

Repeat cycle 2 more times
End with 50 (phantom) jump rope & 20 high knees


3 sets of plank - holding for 30-45 seconds
3 sets of bridge - 20 reps per set
3-5 minutes of shadow boxing and/or high energy dance mix
5-10 minutes stretching and/or yoga poses

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Have The Courage... fight for what I want... soar above average... explore the unfamiliar... know what I deserve and never settle for less.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

5K Fit & Ready

Hopefully you've decided that you're joining the Love Fit Life Team for the PADRES 5K Run/Walk. Oh, you have? GREAT! Now we need to make sure we're prepared to cross the finish line...

Until about two years ago, I absolutely hated running. Not surprisingly (and like many things) my hatred was completely unfounded - I hadn't really ever tried it, I didn't have the right approach or motivation, and I didn't give credit to how much we and our opinions, desires, and preferences grow and change over time. So, I gave it a shot. I totally sucked, but at least I was outside, getting free exercise, and feeling much better. I decided to start small and pay close attention to my skill level, progress, and elements that I did and didn't like. Wondering what I'm talking about? Here are some examples:

My feet and ankles would be in pain when I ran... until I realized that my shoes were hurting me instead of helping me. I went to a great running store (that's now closed or I would shout out) and invested in the right pair of running shoes for me and my needs.

I would get SO bored and then distracted by changing my music all the time... until I started creating special running playlists and listening to 30-120 minute long podcasts that keep my mind focused and feet moving.

I would run alone (and thus, more bored) because I was too afraid that I couldn't keep up with my runner friends... until I recruited a non-runner friend to start running with me! By starting from square one together, we both felt free of judgment and pressure, which was perfect.

I would skip my planned run because I made excuses that I didn't know a good route or felt like I was running without a purpose... until I started using resources like Map My Run and Nike+GPS. I also realized that I did much better when I had a destination in mind that I could run to and from!

I would get discouraged because I wanted to prepare for the 3.1 mile 5K race I signed up for, but I didn't always know the distance I was running... until I started running with a time goal (like, I'm going to run for 10 minutes straight) instead of a distance goal. As a new runner and based on my skill level, I could pretty much count on running a 10-12 minute mile, so I progressively increased my run time goals until I was running for 30 minutes straight (which is exactly the time it took me to finish my actual 5K race).

I was upset that I didn't feel motivated to keep going and going and going (like a lot of runners I know)... until I came to terms with the fact that (at least right now), I like running shorter distances. Telling myself, "go for a 25 minute run" works so much better for me than deciding I'll just go out and run until I feel like stopping or setting unrealistic distance goals.

Based on my experience, here are my recommendations:

Just starting out?
Try to go running at least 3-4 days a week just to get yourself used to it. You don't have to go far and for very long. I started this way and set a minimum goal for myself to run for 5 minutes, 5 days a week - that probably seems like nothing to you, but it worked because I would go even if I didn't want to and I quickly started running 10 minutes at a time, then 15 minutes, then 20 minutes and so on.

Been running for a while?
Give yourself a goal to accomplish! For instance, since this is my 2nd 5K race, I want to run for better time instead of "just finishing" like I did for my 1st 5K. Also, be a good motivator, role model and mentor! There are a ton of people out there that could use your help - even if it's just a matter of calling up a friend and saying "hey, I'm going for a run Wednesday night and I want you to come."

Total pro who runs a marathon before breakfast?
Keep doing you thaaang... it must be working!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Make It Count Monday

After an eventful weekend celebrating the upcoming marriage of my wonderful friend, Heather, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling a little sore, a little sunburned, a little stuffed, and a little slow moving. Lucky for me, though, I was surrounded all weekend by women who are also interested in health and fitness to one extent or another. In addition to Ms. Love Fit Life, the group was equip with Zumba instructors, an active Herbalife customer and advocate, and everyday fit life lovers. Needless to say, we had absolutely no problem munching on fruits, veggies and hummus, dancing late into the night, and chatting about healthier drink options and lifestyle choices.... As human beings that enjoy a good time though, we also didn't have any trouble making a Del Taco run one night, sipping on fruity high calorie drinks and lounging by the pool instead of hitting the incredible hotel gym (evidence provided below).

To my (expected) dismay, I rolled myself out of bed this morning and instantly thought about how one more day of laughing and lounging would be so much cooler than getting back to the grind. At that moment, I realized something so undeniably important to my fit life - the choices I make today, my first day back to reality after vacation, those are the ones that will count... today is the day that I choose whether I'm going jump back on board with my routine or let vacation mode lead the way to total couch control for who knows how long. Today will be the hardest. It will not be fun and I might want to throw a mini tantrum because I can't have another bloody mary or breakfast burrito today, but it will be worth it. I have to be real and acknowledge that if I want a balanced fit life where I allow myself to go out, splurge and indulge once in a while, I have to actually bounce back on Monday (or whatever day it falls on)... I have to snap out of vacation mode and make it count when I return.

However...... I must also be real and acknowledge that I... am... lagging... today...  Thus, I treat my arrival home and the days that follow like a weaning process.

Vacation makes me feel like... gee-wiz, it would sure be super awesome if I could just be on vacation all the time and miraculously be fit, healthy, balanced, and beyond... 

::Slow & Steady::
Since I don't typically want to exercise when I first get back home, I'm easing in slow and steady. Today I spent my lunch break doing a nice walk and jog with a co-worker, then I went on a brisk 3 mile walk after work. I've also penciled in a few exercise classes this week because I know I'll have a harder time than usual directing and motivating myself. 

I get home and realize I have nothing to eat, I'm feeling incredibly lazy, and I want a Jack in the Box Grilled Breakfast Sandwich. This is when I must pull out my no hassle (like, 10 minutes in the store or less), bridge back into healthier choices, and simulate the deliciousness of vacation grocery list.

::Grocery List::
Eggs (great for you, easy to make and I'll eat them with anything)
Gouda Cheese (this is my indulge within limits cheese - it makes me feel like I'm eating something that I shouldn't be and it's oh so delicious!)
Whole Roasted Chicken (perfect for pulling apart in 2 minutes and eating for 3-5 meals until you're ready to get your butt back to the kitchen)
Bananas and Apples (potassium and fiber? yes, please)
Green Beans, Asparagus, Cucumbers, Carrots, Iceberg Lettuce, Cabbage (time to reload on the veggies - I pick super easy to steam veggies or ones I like to eat raw/cold; I like the Iceberg Lettuce and Cabbage because it's food that hydrates and I can eat a ton for very few calories)
Cornichons (umm... perfection, bliss, heaven on Earth? These sharp and tart little baby pickles are beyond words and allow me to easily hop back into gear with healthier choices)
Mini (1 serving) Ice Cream of Choice (just enough for one last hooray before next time)
Coconut Water (hydrate and rebuild in style)

Yah, you might think some or all of that list are odd choices, and that's cool with me... Those are just the things that work for me - it's up to you to find your own perfect snap back grocery cart.

Happy Week to You!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Anti-Munchie Motivation

Yup, I'm a muncher... I love food, I love eating, and I love filling emotional voids with snacks. There it is, I said it. Somehow though, I feel like I'm not alone...

One of my ultimate fit life goals is to change my relationship with food. I will always love eating and I will always enjoy food, but I think it's very important to have a healthy approach when it comes to fueling my body. After a few weeks of intense munching and overeating, I realized that I need to do something to address my desire to eat when I'm not really hungry and my habit of consuming more than I should. Accordingly, I've decided to join forces with a longtime love to try and accomplish my munchie-mind overhaul....


I've always enjoyed smoothies - they're delicious and depending on the ingredients, they can be a very healthy alternative to an actual meal. As I was thinking back to last summer when I always had a smoothie in hand, it dawned on me that I was munching a lot less back then... So, I did some research to uncover the perfect way to make a "full meal" smoothie, equip with all the right nutrients and calories required to get me though the day. Here's what my smoothie recipe looks like and my overall method for incorporating them into my day:

The Smoothie

1 cup Fage 0% Greek Yogurt
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 an orange
1 banana
1/2 an apple
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp chia seeds (or flax seeds)
2 cups spinach
water (amount varies depending on how thick you want your smoothie)

Prep Instructions

I'm usually too busy to see straight, so prepping my smoothies for the week was a must! I spent about 10-15 minutes filling up containers with all of my smoothie ingredients except the spinach and water. It's a really complicated process you guys, so I'm just warning you.... Haha, just kidding! All I did was cut up all my fruit and layer up the ingredients starting with the yogurt on the bottom. I didn't have room for the spinach at the top, so I chopped up spinach and made little baggies with 2 cups each.

Smoothie Execution

Step 1: Grab a blender and plug it in.
Step 2: Grab your smoothie ingredient container and a baggie of chopped spinach.
Step 3: Dump everything into the blender.
Step 4: Fill some of your now empty ingredient container with water and add to the blender.
Step 5: Blend and enjoy!

I pour most of my smoothie into my Klean Kanteen Insulated to carry with me all day (remember, it keeps everything at the same temperature and consistency that it goes in at, which means I have what tastes like a freshly made smoothie for hours!). After my Klean Kanteen is full, I have a large cup leftover which I drink as I'm getting ready around the house.

The Daily Plan

Balanced Breakfast
1 slice Ezekiel toast topped with 1-2 tbsp almond butter
1 banana or other fruit
1-2 hard boiled eggs

see above

Balanced Dinner
Veggies like a mixed green salad, green beans, broccoli, mixed veggies, etc...
Lean protein like chicken breast, turkey, lean beef, fish/seafood, tofu, beans, etc...
Whole grains/healthy carbs like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, etc...

The Logic
By planning my daily meals like I have above, I will know exactly what I should and shouldn't be eating throughout the day. If my mind starts to wander and I feel like snacking, I can quickly remind myself that I have my smoothie for the day and I'm waiting until dinner for my next meal. Since I've also made sure that my smoothie is full of good ingredients and enough calories, I won't go hungry or feel unsatisfied. However, I will probably feel that uncomfortable feeling that occurs when you deny yourself from appetite eating (aka: eating when you're not really hungry), but that's exactly the point! 

I can already hear the panic in most of your heads that this will never work for you... and that's probably because you need to make some alterations for your personal needs. I struggle the most while I'm at work all day, so I've created my meal/smoothie plan with that in mind. However, you may struggle at a different time of the day or you may want to plan on 3 smaller meals with a smoothie throughout the day - it's really up to you depending on how your body responds. I have a friend, for instance, who struggles the most at night, so we discussed switching it up for her to have a balanced breakfast, balanced lunch, then smoothie for the rest of the day/night. My advice is to prep your smoothies, try it for a day and see what needs adjusting.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Inspire Me, Alex Nawrocki!

A huge part of my fit life journey has been collaborating with the people around me. I don't want to live a happy healthy life by myself, I want to spend every minute of it with the people that I love. Not only that, but I definitely can't get to my ultimate goals on my own - I need ideas, motivation, help, support, etc... So, understandably, I've been really stoked to find out about friends who are participating in really great causes that simultaneously develop and support their fit lives. Join me in supporting the ambition and hard work of the people in our communities, because after all, we only have each other!

Alex's AIDS/LifeCycle Ride

Who is Alex Nawrocki?
Alex Nawrocki is a fit life inspiration among so many other things! We've known each other for many many years and in addition to being an incredibly kind and fun person, he's also super active and always pushing the limit. Don't worry, this is a good guy to support!

What's the AIDS/LifeCycle all about?
The AIDS/LifeCycle is a 7 day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Alex will be one of the many riders that will test their fitness boundaries while having a life changing experience supporting this great cause. Can you ride 545 miles in 7 days? I sure can't!

What does Alex have to say?
"What's most remarkable to me about the AIDS LifeCycle, and events like it, is that it gives everyone involved an opportunity to contribute to a meaningful cause in a way that they're passionate about.

Exercise, especially challenging endurance events, has always left me feeling accomplished and stronger as a person. What initially drew me to participating in the ride, was the challenge of completing the 575 miles. I've been engaged in a realm that I'm excited about; and consequently, I'm enthusiastically engaging all my friends, family and loved ones on behalf of a truly worthwhile cause that, I'm ashamed to admit, I probably would not otherwise give its due attention.

Once I was committed, however, I felt compelled (even beyond my usual self-discipline) to make an extra effort to prepare and push myself because I am riding to help alleviate the suffering of people in my community living with AIDS/HIV. I encourage anyone, looking for a way to live a more active and fit lifestyle to simply sign up for an event. Charity or personal accomplishment, the goal at the end will motivate your preparation, and your new fit life. We are all capable of much more than we give our bodies credit. I think everyone should experience a test of character and endurance in their lifetime. In fact the more, the better... You'll be stronger for it."

How can you help?
Alex has set a phenomenal goal to raise $3,500 for the AIDS LifeCycle. He's more than half way there and with our help, I know his donation jar will be overflowing. Please take a few minutes to check out Alex's AIDS LifeCyle homepage and donate anything you can to help him cross the finish line.

You rock, Alex! 
Thank you for being a true fit life inspiration and showing the world that we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to. Cheers to you, your hard work, your drive to accomplish great things, and we'll see you at the finish line!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I DEFINE ME 30 Day Self Challenge

Waking up yesterday morning and realizing it was May 1st was pretty shocking for me. May has been one of those "off in the distance" months for me, until now, and all of a sudden I've slammed into that dreaded wall of way too many things to do (not to mention that summer is also about a minute away). My calendar is quite literally overflowing with plans for the next several weeks (super fun things and totally torturous things too) and it dawned on me that I seriously need to get my act together. Most important of all, I need to start breaking some bad habits that keep holding me back from reaching my full potential. My I DEFINE ME 30 Day Self Challenge starts now.

Old Habits Die Hard - Healthy Habits Live STRONG!
For the month of May, I'm going to test myself to reach my full potential, feel better than I've ever felt before, and accomplish my big picture goals while making it out alive and hungry for more... and (yes) I challenge YOU to do the same. Not sure where to start or how to achieve such a thing? It's ok... I'm happy to help!

To me, our personal habits are what ultimately define the way we live. Our days are occupied by an array of good and bad habits that we've formed somewhere along the way... when we wake up in the morning, the food we consume throughout the day, how we do or do not exercise, how we provide the right nutrients for our body, how we handle stress, what we do when we're anxious or unhappy, and the list goes on and on. I'm constantly noticing my various habits, and often thinking about how I'd like them to change. This month, I'm done thinking about it and falling victim to doing things the way they've always been done - I'm going to spend the next 30 days really identifying and addressing my personal habits and taking action to change them as needed.

I've organized my thoughts and goals in the following way:


 My specific habit that I want to address


Where this habit is coming from... I'm big on digging deep to figure out what is REALLY going on and actually solving the problem from its core.


How I'm going to approach changing this habit... There might be one or several paths to getting there, and since these are reoccurring problems that have not necessarily been previously addressed, it's likely that I'll have to do some trial and error.

My "Define Me" Habits to Challenge


The A.M. Snooze Button Attack

  • Going to bed too late
  • Not waking up when my alarm goes off the 1st time
  • Being too tired overall
  • Being in denial that another busy day is beginning
  • Get to bed earlier by deciding on a goal bedtime (counting 8 hrs backwards from when I need to wake up), drinking Chamomile & Sleepy Time hot tea, spending 5 minutes meditating before laying down, turning off all electronics 15-30 minutes before I want to fall asleep, and reading for a few minutes in bed.
  • Wake up the 1st time my alarm goes off by setting an alarm with a new song/ring tone to keep me surprised and changing the physical location of my alarm clock so I have to walk further from my bed to reach it.
  • Get excited about each day by having something in mind and on my calendar to look forward to... an exercise class or workout with a buddy after work, a tasty lunch I've made in advance, a nice walk during the day, etc...


Fidgeter Syndrome

  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Feeling uncomfortable
  • Excess energy
  • Give myself a healthier outlet for my excess energy and nerves by getting daily exercise (even if it's just a walk), practicing my breathing, engaging in more regular meditation sessions, going to weekly yoga classes (or practicing at home if I can't make it to the class times).
  • Give myself breaks to walk around for 5 minutes if I'm losing focus and be active on as many of my lunch breaks as possible to maintain focus throughout the day and feel more calm overall.
  • Stop myself when I start to fidget, think about why I'm doing whatever it is I'm doing, take a deep breathe and think about putting my energy into something more efficient like my current task at hand.


Falling Victim to My Vices

  • Boredom
  • Searching for comfort (in the wrong places)
  • Inability to be happy in the present
  • Engaging in social settings with more ease
  • Chasing a past, imagined or desired feeling
  • Unwillingness to be my own bad guy and say no

  • I think being a "victim" of my vices is the main problem I face, and I'd probably say my most prominent vice is drinking. I notice that the more I give in to my vices, the less self control I practice, the more I munch, the less motivated I am to exercise and live healthy, the more desire I have to continue giving into my vices, and so on. In my personal opinion, vices are also the most challenging habit(s) to break and fit life obstacle there is - we live in a society that is dominated by vices (drinking, smoking, gambling, addictions, etc...) and defines people by the vices they engage in. Unfortunately, as disgusting and embarrassing as it may be, it's also fun and exhilarating to give into vices - and it's hard not to when you're surrounded by everyone doing the same thing. Not surprisingly, the more committed I've become to my fit life, the more frustrating and confusing my vices have become. I want to go out with my friends... I want to get drunk (sorry, mom)... I want to let loose after a long work week... BUT... I want to live a healthy lifestyle... I want to let loose in moderation... I want to wake up for an early morning run on Saturday and Sunday mornings... I don't want to feel like crap. My approach to being IN CHARGE of my vices is to address it on a deep personal level and on a community level. 
        • Personal Level: Every time I want to give into my vices I commit to stopping, taking 3 deep breathes and telling myself 3 reasons to reconsider. If I decide to  engage, I will set a limit that I will stick to. I will spend time meditating to uncover the issues that I'm attempting to resolve by giving into my vices and I will overcome them once and for all.
        • Community Level: I will reach out to friends and family to spend time together in a healthy and active environment. I will encourage group walks, runs, park visits, trying new classes, exploring new places, and anything else that will get us out of the darkness of the bar and into the light of the outdoors.

I can do it.
You can do it.
We can build a better life for ourselves and the community around us.
We can do it.