Getting Back to the Grind

Hey guys and dolls! I’ve recently had a reader request for my best tips for getting back into working out/eating healthy mode while still working 40+ hours a week. You’re in luck, as I’ve turned that into an art form over here at B&B. 😉 We all have had our moments of falling off the Booyah wagon, but what you may not realize is that it’s really not difficult to hop right back on (I swear). Here’s how to get right back into it:

  1. Realize that you don’t have to be perfect. Make your workout/eating healthy goals achievable, and gradually work up to bigger and tougher. Start out by setting a weekly goal that you can totally crush, such as “work out three days a week” instead of “wake up at 5 am and work out before work every day this week.” Being realistic with your goals when you’re trying to get back into it helps motivate you and gives you something to strive for. Writing them down helps, too! You can track your progress and reflect on what you’ve accomplished each week. Once you feel comfortable and start crushing those weekly milestones, reassess your goals in order to keep pushing the limits. It’s okay to start off slow – if you set the bar too high straight out of the gate, it’s tempting to get down on yourself when you can’t achieve goals that are simply unrealistic. Be nice to yourself, and acknowledge it will take time to get there – and that is totally ok. 🙂
  2. Meal prep the shiz out of your weekend and week nights. IMG_2693.JPGIt’s easy to disregard this as unimportant, but eating well goes hand in hand with exercise. I’ve definitely found a correlation between eating healthy and being motivated to work out regularly. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I prepare my lunch and breakfast for the next day every single night during the week. It takes less than 15 minutes and is one of the single most important ways to follow through with your healthy eating goals. Not only will it save you money and time from having to buy your lunch, but you will have something healthy and delicious to eat that will power you through your day. It is definitely worth the one hour per week to thoughtfully plan out all of your meals, make a grocery list, and get your rear to the grocery store to get everything you need to make your awesome meal plan come to fruition. I usually cook up an extensive and epically delicious feast on Sunday nights, so the leftovers can sustain me for several nights that week. With a little planning ahead, I can choose something quick, easy and uncomplicated to whip up if and when I run out of leftovers. When it comes to eating well, preparation and planning is the name of the game. And it’s seriously the easiest thing you can do to get your head in the game at the start of each week.
  3. Choose something you like to do for a workout and grab a workout buddy. photo 1.JPGIf you hate running, don’t choose to run as your workout. Pick something that you look forward to, or an activity that excites you. This should be a no brainer – life is too short to suffer through something you absolutely hate, when there are plenty of fun options to choose from. If you’re dying to shake your booty while listening to some Pitbull, hit up a Zumba class. If you had a less than stellar day and you want to kick the sh*t out of something, find a solid kickboxing class. Better yet, recruit a gym buddy to go with you to workout – you are so much more likely to stick with it. It may be tempting to skip your workout if it’s just you, but you’re not going to bail on your friend! Using the buddy system for your workouts is a huge motivating factor – you can cheer each other on and help each other stick to it.
  4. Plan your workouts. Like, literally put them in your calendar. Only you know the best times for you to get workout in, so pick what is reasonable and works for your schedule. Physically writing them down in your calendar and allotting a block of time for you to exercise is a concrete and productive way to commit to your workout. Now that I am a grad student, my days can be pretty long. I may not always have control over what time I get home at night, but I do have control over what time I wake up in the morning, so scheduling a first-thing-in-the-morning workout helps me sidestep the “shoot, it’s 10 pm and I didn’t get a workout in yet!” moment. Some days I even break up my exercise into two 20-25 minute sweat sessions. The possibilities are endless: you do what works for you.
  5. All the healthy snacks plus a water bottle. tritan-all_2.jpgOne of the best things I’ve ever done to help me stay on track with my healthy eating goals was to bring a reusable water bottle to work and keep it at my desk. If you’ve just eaten a solid meal and you think you’re still hungry mid-morning or mid-afternoon, try taking a good long drink of water first. Your body (that devil!) can trick you into thinking that you are hungry if you are simply dehydrated. Once I started setting goals for the amount of water to consume per day, I found that I was snacking out of boredom less, and generally felt more alert and awake (bonus: it makes you get up and walk around more, because you will literally have to pee 20 times a day when you’re well hydrated). Then there are those days when you might just be really, really hungry.  It happens! I avoid becoming Hangry L and eating all the food within reach by pre-portioning healthy snacks – trail mix, popcorn, fruits and veggies, you know the drill – and stocking them in a drawer at my desk for when the hungry horrors hit. It’s much easier to just say no to the candy jar when there are healthy and delicious snacks on hand.
  6. Make it easy. FullSizeRender_1.jpgIf it’s easy (no matter what “it” is), you are so much more likely to do it. I’ve already touted the benefits of meal planning, drinking lots of water and stocking healthy snacks, which are super easy ways for you to make solid healthy eating choices. I’ve suggested grabbing your gym buddy and finding a way to sweat that doesn’t make you want to dramatically avoid exercise at all costs – the easiest way to stay accountable and motivated for your workouts. Now, be honest with yourself, take a good look at your exercise/eating habits and attempt to eliminate any other hurdles that may deter you from accomplishing your goals. Everyone is different, so I may not be able to pinpoint yours, but I can share some that have helped me:
    • Pack your gym bag the night before
    • Lay out your gym outfit for the next day
    • Bring a snack to get you through the 3 pm hangry zone if you’re planning to exercise after work
    • Stock extra headphones, hair elastics, water bottles, socks, whatever in your car or work bag so there are no excuses to bail on a workout
    • Plan out what you’re going to do before you get to the gym, so you’re not wandering aimlessly
    • Make a new playlist
    • Come up with a motivating mantra to help you kick your workout in the teeth

Basically, make it difficult to come up with an excuse to skip your workout. Additionally, remove temptation that prevents you from sticking with your healthy eating goals (like getting rid of junk food that you have difficulty eating in reasonable portions – I know that I can and will eat an entire Family Size bag of tortilla chips in one sitting, so I chose to not keep those snacks on hand). If you make the choice to work out and eat well simple and attainable, it becomes a no-brainer to stick to the plan.

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7. Get enough sleep. So important, but also very difficult with how crazy our schedules can be. If you don’t get enough sleep to get you through your day, it’s going to be tough to work out on top of that. Prioritize your sleep.

8. Be your own best friend. No beating yourself up, and treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Changes take time, and if you approach them with a positive attitude, you’re more likely to get through the rough patches and stick with it. You can do this!

I hope that these tips have helped you get pumped up and motivated about getting right back on the Booyah Wagon. Sometimes it may seem insurmountable to get back into the workout/healthy eating routine, but I promise these are tried and true methods that I incorporate into my daily life to help me stick to my active lifestyle. Break it down day by day, and you will get there. I’m human; there are days that I can’t seem to get it together – we all have them – but planning ahead and focusing on your goal will help you get right back into it. And remember: it’s never too late to start. Best of luck, I know you’ll crush it. 😀

With warmth,

L

Work It Out Wednesday – Deck of Booyah Part Deux

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Sorry, my post workout fake pushup form was not on fleek this morning. I was wicked tired. 🙂

Happy Hump Day everyone!! Now that I think I’m finally getting the hang of life back in Booyahville, the countdown begins: 1 month until my birthday, so it’s time to get serious. Because I will not NOT be completely jacked on my birthday – not gonna happen! So let’s do this.

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R and I were holding court this morning at 5:30 am in the fake grass UFX section of the gym, since our girl A is a sickie (feel better boo!). We started our workout with 2 laps around the gym building, outside (~0.5 mi). It was 62°F, fresh air and sunny – the most prime reminder of why we all still live in New England after shoveling 8 feet of snow this winter. Perfection. *ding*

R brought back our Deck of Booyah workout, which is pretty much the best lazy way to do a workout without thinking about it (or, you could go old school Bubbles and Booyah and do a workout with the Booyah Jar). Basically, you assign each suit a specific exercise, and each face card a harder exercise. Then, you do the amount of reps corresponding to the number on each card you pull.

Deck of Booyah Workout

Instruction Recap: For each card pulled, do the exercise associated with each card. For numbered cards, do the number on the card of the associated exercises (i.e. if you pull a 10 of Hearts, you do 10 push-ups; 3 of spades corresponds to 3 squat jumps – get it?). For the face cards, do the associated exercise:

Numbered cards:

  • Spades: Squat Jumps
  • Clubs: Kettlebell swings
  • Hearts: TRX Push-Ups
  • Diamonds: TRX Rows

Face cards:

  • Jacks: 20 Ball Slams
  • Queens: 2 sets of stairs, holding soft medicine ball overhead when going up
  • King: 1 Sled Push with 90 lbs
  • Aces: Repeat the last 3 cards (excluding other Aces)

Everyone does the exercises together, and you take turn pulling cards.

The best part? You can do this as a group competitively or just completely cas (as in “casual”, sometimes these abbrevs I speak with in real life don’t translate well in text), or on your jones. You will get one completely ass kicking workout, and sometimes you might even pull a card like this:

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That would be, 7 push ups, 2 sets of stairs with the medicine ball and 1 sled push. Then do it all over again because you just pulled an ace. OY VEYYYYY.

This took us about 50 minutes total, with a few “I’m dying a death and sweat is pouring down my face” water breaks interspersed in there. Overall, a solid workout. Thumbs up high. And, I made it through the entire workout even though my butt is so sore from doing a million lunges yesterday that I feel like someone beat me with a stick.

So, I hope you guys have a great hump day today. Enjoy it! We are halfway to the weekend, hoooooooooray!!!

Wait one more thing:

Weight-Loss-QuotesThere ya go. JUST DO IT swooooooooosh.

With warmth,

L

Don’t Do It.

stress

There’s a lot going on in Booyahville right now, and I’m feeling pretty stressed. Ok, wicked stressed. Like lay awake all night and stare at my ceiling making lists of all the things I need to do stressed. Before yesterday, I hadn’t seen the inside of a gym in 7 days (hence the absence of your regularly scheduled Work It Out Wednesday/Bridal Bootcamp). We all know that exercise can help relieve stress and boost your immune system (you don’t have to take my word for it – the studies are out there), and the resulting endorphins and adrenaline are a nice boost in your mood, regardless of what is going on in your life. Blah, blah, yadda, yadda. I know this – it’s a fact – but it seems that my natural reaction when super stressed is to start to remove things from my day that seem superfluous and time-consuming. Often the first thing to get cut from the docket is the time spent on ourselves, and we end up sacrificing our personal wellness for something that’s more “important”. There are times when skipping the gym is definitely okay (guilty as charged, especially when I need rest/my body needs a break), but when you’re stressed, it’s even MORE of a reason to lace up those sneaks, put on your these-pants-make-me-look-bootylicious spandex crops and go sweat it out at the gym. Why? Let me tell you – with GIFs. 😉

1. Taking time for yourself can have a meditative effect (aka get to your zen, baby).

feel the force

If all you’re focused on is breathing and not passing out while doing burpees, it gives you the space and time to disconnect from all the craziness. When I am working out in the gym, and actually exerting myself, my mind is blank. All I’m focused on is breathing through the up-down motion of a push up. Not my ginormous to-do list. Being able to exercise gives you a much-needed mental break.

2. Planning a workout gives you the sense of your ability to control the things going on around you.

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Sometimes, when it feels like things are spiraling out of control, the fact that you hold the reigns on a portion of your day is a really good feeling. When push comes to shove, the only thing that gets me through these super stressful times is being uber organized and blocking out specific times to focus on the things that need to get done one at a time. Call me a control freak, but my workout is a little portion of my day where I am in charge. 😉

3. Two words: cathartic outlet.

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Let it all out, darling. Slaying a workout is a great way to let off steam, whether it’s by breathing it out in downward facing dog or beating the sh*t out of a punching bag in kickboxing. Or running sprints. Or planking it out. Whatever you choose. 🙂

Let me tell you – I told myself I would not guilt myself over being MIA for the gym this week (and I’m really trying not to), because that is not going to help me have a more productive day today. But I wish I had pushed myself to get to the gym earlier in the week. I feel enormously better, more awake, less stressed and ready to take on my day than I have in the past 7 days combined. Bottom line – don’t skip your workout when you’re stressin’ big time, because exercise in and of itself is a powerful tool to combat stress. Instead, do whatever it takes to get yourself to the gym (set 5 alarms, sleep in your workout clothes, make your gym buddy guilt trip you via text at 5 am). The hardest part is getting out of bed, but once you’re there, you’re sure to knock it out of the park. However, be ready to adjust your expectations. You may need to make adjustments to your intensity and/or allow more time for recovery between sessions – and that’s okay. And while you’re at it, have fun, laugh and focus on the positive – it’s your YOU time! 😀

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I hope you guys all get out there and have a super BOOYAH day today!

With warmth,

L

PS: Just in case:

Exercise-Therapy

Work It Out Wednesday!!!

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Oh hi. Bulgarian lunges by L. Watch that knee – your front leg should be at a 90 degree angle with the floor, unlike me above. Eh, I’m a work in progress. 😉

Hi lovelies! Happy Hump Day! This morning, we had our fitness test (in order to track our progress) in Sarah’s small group training class. Yesterday, she sent out the most terrifying one-line email ever: “SEE YOU ALL TOMORROW AM BRIGHT AND EARLY.  THIS TEST IS GOING TO BE TOUGH!” When it’s in all caps, you know it’s going to be intense (and boy oh boy, it was). Despite the fact that just standing upright seems difficult right now, I am prancing around in a state of joy because I *finally* got my pivot turn down for sprints (our sprints consist of running down and back on the gym’s basketball court). Previously, I was the driver of the Sprinting Struggle Bus: my no-tread shoes coupled with my inelegant turns ended up in comical slides, U-turns, near wipe-outs and lots and lots of swearing. But TODAY was The Day, and I decreased my sprint time from 10.1 seconds to 9.4 seconds (woooooo!!!). I felt like I was performing with a handicap this morning because on Tuesday, R, A and I did a pretty intense weekly gal workout (we said we were just going to do “lots of stretching” but that never happens – we are all basically intense bros). When we were getting our pedis yesterday, R and I were both commiserating over how sore our quads were (which is why, when I went to do Box Jumps for my fitness test, I jumped into the side of the box instead of on top of it a few times – yikes). Our Tuesday workout that was responsible for the feeling of overcoming an extra challenge today was pretty clutch, so I wanted to share what we did with you guys. It’s a good simple, quick and moderate-difficulty workout for if you’re feeling really uncreative and want to stick with some tried-and-true basics.

fitness

Basic B Workout

Warm up: Jog for 5 minutes

Round One

Repeat the round three times, doing each exercise for :30 seconds.

  • Goblet Squat with heavy kettlebell
  • Push-Up
  • Plank

After completing the circuit three times, do some sprints for cardio.

Round Two

Repeat the round three times, doing each exercise for one minute.

  • Bulgarian Lunges (switch legs after :30 seconds)
  • Box Jumps (high box)
  • Sit-Ups

After completing the circuit three times, run some stairs for cardio.

Round Three

Repeat the round three times.

  • 10 x TRX Low Row
  • 10 x Overhead Press (heavy weight)
  • 10 x Bicep curls (heavy weight)

After completing the circuit three times, do some more sprints for cardio.

Cool Down: Walk until your heart rate slows. Do lots of stretching and drink water!! 😀

Ohhhhh! Also exciting – on Tuesday, we added on to our stack of boxes for the Box Jump Challenge, and I got up to the next height (yaaaaaaasssss)!! If you remember, at the beginning of January, I encouraged everyone one to pick just one thing to focus on improving (whatever that may be for you – if you need a refresher, check out that post here). So much progress is one week! Double booyah!! I guess that taking a full weekend off to hang with family in Southern Connecticut paid off. 😀 😀 Additionally, I want to give a shout out and huge thank you, because I spent the “sprinting for cardio” segment in between in each round during my Tuesday workout going to New Hampshire Sprinting Camp, where my coaches A & R helped me overcome the hump of my pivot-turn malfunction. I couldn’t have done it without their help, patience and guidance – best gym buddies EVER. 🙂

I hope that you guys are having a super-extra kick ass day like me today! Woohoooo!

With warmth,

L

Friday Faves!

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A pic my friend took in Charlestown after one of the storms that I totally stole off his Facebook to illustrate the madness. Thanks, C! 😉 😛

Happy Friday all! It’s been an interesting week. I feel like I can comfortably speak for most New Englanders that we are completely and utterly sick of the snow (especially the associated travel issues – the T is broken, side streets are still a mess, and there are zero parking spots anywhere in Boston Metro) and so B & B will be taking applications for its first annual Boston Snow Relocation Project in order to spread the wealth of snow across the country to those who want a piece of this winter wonderland. 😉 I’m basically just still mad that my race was cancelled (with no refunds – lame). So, I’m focusing on the positives (as one must do in these circumstances): embrace the snow, and have fun because spring will come!

T map

I LOL’ed when I saw this sad/highly accurate MBTA map on Twitter, made by @SaraMorrison. Hilarious, yet dead on. Womp.

Here is what I’ve been feeling this week:

1. Justin’s Cookie Dough Almond Butter.

cookie butterI WANT THIS. NOW. Apparently, the King of the Morons John Mayer (sorry not sorry, I think he’s kind of a D) tweeted at Justin’s requesting a Cookie Dough Almond Butter – a request which was fulfilled by the Almond Butter Gods at Justin’s. The Cookie Dough Almond Butter is chocolate almond butter with chocolate chips and real chunks of cookie dough (and it’s vegan!). I don’t know why they wasted this pleasure on him, but if they don’t make this available nationwide, I will personally stand outside and picket Justin’s headquarters. Also, if you are a huge Justin’s fan like moi, you’d know that the founder, Justin Gold, always includes a message on each jar. Here it is for the jar above:

I know this guy named John. You see, John’s awesome because he doesn’t just sit around waiting on the world to change, he makes things happen with the power of his thumbs, a little keyboard and this thing called Twitter. If it weren’t for my buddy, we would still be living in a sad, sad world without Cookie Dough Almond Butter. Talk about using your powers for good. If only everything I tweeted came true . . . John, enjoy this creation. Finely crafted just for you. —Justin

Dude, seriously – the world needs this, Justin. Make it happen. PLEASE!!!!

2. Nike Legendary Lava Tight

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My amazing sister got me some Nike Legend training tights for Christmas, and I’m obsessed. They are (I can’t believe I’m about to say this) better than Lulu! The fabric is thick and opaque (no free shows!) but wicks sweat really well, and the pattern she got me is really cute. I’ve been wearing my pair at least once a week – they are perfect for the days, like today, that the temperature is only 8°F / – 13°C when I wake up and head to the gym at 5 am – so I’m not freezing my ass off in crops, but the full length tights still wick sweat like a boss and I don’t get overheated (and that’s coming from a furnace – I run so hot when I workout). I am OBSESSED with that Lava pattern in the pair above – it’s SO FUN and SPRING-Y! I’m really feeling the fun pants recently, even though I really only have two pairs in a sea of solid dark neutrals. Also, the Lifting Girls at the gym always wear fun pants and they look so friggin’ cute. I want some.

3. NYFW
fashion week

Victoria Justice at Mara Hoffman F/W 15 show

New York Fashion Week just came to a close yesterday, but I’ve spent every free minute in the past week reading recaps, using WhoWhatWear as my Fashion Bible. And, I want that outfit (above). Oh. Em. Gee. Obsessedddd!! One of my favorite parts of NYFW is perusing the Street Snaps by The Styleograph. I get such sweet outfit ideas by scoping out how other people put pieces together in a creative way. Loving it…

street style

Photo via The Styleograph. Also, who looks that chic when it’s 10 degrees outside?! I love how she put her winter outerwear together! ❤ That hat = YES.

4. This article by Hungry Runner Girl: Ten Changes To Improve Your Running Form

hungry runner girl

I feel like my form could use some work (I mean, it can’t hurt) and maybe I’ll be faster (yeah, yeah – I know you only get faster by running sprint intervals/run hills but good form helps too, right?). On some of my longer runs, I have to consciously think to stand up straight, keep my shoulders back, and not bounce or slam my feet on the pavement for the first mile or so until I get into my groove. I found these tips to be really helpful, and they are definitely worth checking out. 🙂
5. This little motivational quote I stumbled across.
Weight-Loss-Quotes2
Even though I’m pissed my race was cancelled and I don’t get to compete, I am trying my best to not get too bummed out. I’ve worked really hard, and there will be another race that I can do. Regardless of racing/not racing, I’ve come so far in my training and I’ve been kicking ass. Thus, I’m basically unstoppable (at least that’s what I’m telling myself to keep my momentum going). Any fun half marathon race suggestions are welcome. 🙂
6. Stretching.
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I’m still SO SORE. Wah.
I hope that you guys all are having a great Friday today! Later this evening, I’ll be driving to CT for the weekend to see my favorite person in the universe: my 11-month old nephew, E! I am so excited to see that little nugget and give him Auntie hugs and kisses! So pumped (if you see the Marshmallow Mobile on I-84 give me a honk on Waze). Also, L’s Rock Climbing Adventure Part Deux will be occurring on Sunday afternoon – pretty stoked on that, too! What are you guys up to this weekend?? Tell me all the deets in the comments. ❤
With warmth,
L
xoxoxo
PS: The Boston Yeti is a vegan. Just sayin’. And the fact that he retweeted my tweet made my day this week! 😉
Boston-Yeti

WOD: I Drank my Boom Juice This Morning

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I started my morning off like this…

It was not easy to get out of bed today. I had to put some extra zap into my internal monologue to convince my limbs to extract themselves from the warm and uber cozy blanket cocoon they were wrapped in. When your alarm goes off at 5:05 am (yes I need those extra five minutes) everyday, it is hard to un-starfish yourself, put on spandex and get your booty out the door. When I’m really not feeling it, I always tell myself (“L, let’s discuss…”):

1. You’ll feel better if you go (When have you ever regretted going to the gym?).

2. You won’t be able to fall back asleep and you’ll be mad at yourself for not going (This is true 95% of the time).

3. Your workout is DONE before 7 am!

4. You get to see your gym buddies, and they all had to get up out of bed too.

Active L won over Grumpy L, and I managed to make it all the way to the gym to find out that the Boot Camp instructor was not feeling well and wouldn’t be able to make it. I definitely had a moment of “What?! NO!!!” and then realized that I was facing either a really boring workout on the treadmill (AND my headphones were sitting in my car….which was far away…ish…) or we were going to have to pull off Boot Camp ourselves. Luckily, my gym buddy K and I are the bossiest b*tches around, so we came up with a pretty dope circuit (with the assistance of the “Dance Cardio” Pandora station, we killed it). So, just in case you’re in need for a pretty killer workout today with limited equipment (a set of heavy weights, an aerobic step bench with risers, a barbell) – here you go!! 😀 😀

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I was a total creeper and had to go back into the studio to take this phot so I wouldn’t forget what our kick-ass circuit was…

Each station was done for 1 minute each, and in between each circuit we ran 2 sets of stairs (~4 flights each per set).

Circuit One: Legs

1. Jumping over bench (Bench with 2 risers on each side)

2. Bulgarian Lunges off the bench with weights (Bench with 2 risers)

3. Sit-ups

4. Burpees

5. Dumbbell Step-Up on Bench (Bench with 5 risers)

6. Squats with barbell (with 20 lbs or more on barbell)

7. Push/flip heavy boxing bag

After repeating the Leg circuit twice, we switched the circuit around, using the same equipment, to focus on arms.

Circuit Two: Arms

1. Mountain climbers off the bench

2. Chest fly with weights

3. Plank

4. Burpees*

5. Dips off bench (or overhead tricep extension)

6. Shoulder press with barbell (I did a squat press because I’m a lover of squats – gotta get that booty!)

7. Push-ups

We did the arm circuit twice as well, and let me tell you, as I sit here typing it and drinking coffee, I can FEEL it! Workout success! It was not only the physical challenge that gave me the extra boost I feel today, but the mental challenge as well. I tend to go to classes every morning because I sometimes shy away from creating my own workouts. Beyond the fact that I simply like exercising in a group setting, creating my own workout seems a little intimidating. But you realize, that in a pinch, you know more than you give yourself credit for and it’s really not that difficult after all. It also helped that I felt I had to make my instructor proud, so I pushed myself to the very last second of that one minute interval (I was also the time-keeper, so I felt it was necessary to be a good example). It’s often the mental challenge that we overcome (knowing you pushed yourself, even though class didn’t go as planned, and there was no one cheering you on besides yourself) that makes you really feel like you drank your boom juice.

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I ended my morning like THIS! BOOM!

In the end, it didn’t really matter that half the class left before we set up our amazing circuit and only ~10 – 15 people participated, it mattered that the two new girls who had never been before said, “This is really hard! You’re kicking our ass.” I knew my trainer would be proud. 😀

I hope you guys get a big ol’cup of boom juice this morning to get your day started. 😛

L

Brain Massage

In college, my bffae B and I used to joke that we needed a LITERAL brain massage after studying organic chemistry reaction mechanisms into the wee hours of the night in the library before exams. Hunched over our textbooks and pristine computer paper sheets that were quickly filled with the tidy geometry of chemical structures, the heavy silence and dusty stacks (and the somber plant by the window) as our companions, all that electron pushing resulted in throbbing, unrelenting headaches. I pictured a pair of sterile white gloves wrapping themselves around my gray matter and giving a few good squeezes, resulting in immediate relief of my headache. A weird thing to picture, I guess, but studying all that chemistry will do that to you.

I was thinking about that this morning as I watched the rain splatter down on my window with my gloomy mood to match. Today, I need a brain massage of a different variety. I am in desperate need of a mental cleanse. One to sweep out all the negative thoughts renting space in my head. The half marathon is in three days. We are within the 72 hour window, people. Holy Balls.

Here’s what they don’t tell you about your first big race. The mental anguish many, many hours before you lace up your sneakers and pin on your race bib is much more than I ever expected. I did my last training run – knocked it out of the park, mind you! – now where the %^$ did all my confidence go? Did it seep out of my toes while I was sleeping, dwindle with the weather today, or was it due to my stress-eating the delicious, rich and admittedly quite fantastic breakfast pastries that my “food fairy” friend K (who is in culinary school) brought over last night? (Side note: It is of an endless amount of frustration that currently, I not only have enough delicious, nutritious and healthy food in my refrigerator to feed a family of 6 several times over, but I had big plans to make something amazing last night to share with all of you. It seems like we are our own worst enemies sometimes. Le sigh.)

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At least 75% of the delicious pastries shown here were my dinner last night. Yum.

It feels like my brain needs a good ass-kicking today. I need all the Booyahs I can get. I had my grand finale of a workout this morning at the gym (last big one before the race!) and I was really banking on that flood of endorphins to push me up over the hump. It looks like they had quite an uphill battle, because I’m still down here at bottom of the hill.

In my desperation I started Googling. “Motivational quotes for marathon runners” yielded:

Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance – you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.

-Doris Brown Heritage
First woman to run sub 5-minute indoor mile

Aka “Let’s do this damn thing.” Thanks, Doris. Also, who can seriously run a mile in 5 minutes? REALLY?

and

Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.

– Tim Noakes
Professor, runner in more than 70 marathon and ultra-distance events

Professor Tim, that sounds like something my father would say. I’ll go with it. Get the good ol’ spirit motivation.

and

Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.

-John Bingham

Okay, I can’t really argue with any of that, John.

and

As an athlete, when you least expect it, you may find yourself standing on the threshold of an accomplishment so monumental that it strikes fear into your soul. You must stand ready, at any moment, to face the unknown. You must be ready to walk boldly thru the wall of uncertainty.”

-John Bingham

“…strikes fear in your soul” AKA you’re shitting your pants, but it’s okay – go forward!

I don’t know if simply running a half marathon qualifies for “monumental” but I’ll take it. Let’s BOLDLY do this!

and

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.
-Les Brown

I’m pretty sure I had that quote on an over-sized t-shirt in fourth grade. It had a star and a moon screen-printed on it, and it was definitely in heavy rotation with my fave purple Umbro shorts.

Things I’ve learned from this exercise:

1. I need to find John Bingham’s phone number, I think he could give me one hell of a pep talk.

2. I think it’s the mental aspect of race preparation that feeds the fire in your heart to achieve. I know that I can do this, and there is a stubbornness and a determination that runs in my family (it’s genetic) that feeds the fire, and the one that pushes me forward. Today is the day I need to focus on the “I can do this” and “I WILL do this” not the blahs and the uncertainty cobwebs taking up space in head.

3. Just like in that library so very long ago, I could have gotten up and walked out, but I didn’t. It was my own stubbornness and determination that kept my butt in the chair. The desire to be The Best. Score the highest. Give it everything I had. Yes, it was just an exam, but it was the mental challenge to stay and push myself just that little bit extra. And I did it. Which is why I am an organic chemistry superstar. It is the same stubbornness and determination that feeds the fire, the one within that you kindle and care for, and slowly build it up, until the day is here and it’s roaring. (And even when it rains and is gloomy, it’s still there.)

I will be working on feeding the fire today to help me climb up and over that hump. I got this.

Hopefully the fire will help me find the motivation to make my amazing dish that I can share with you tomorrow. 🙂

En fuego,

L

PS: What do YOU do to motivate yourself before a big event? Reply in the comments! I need all the help I can get here, people.