Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Taking The Focus Off Of Running

I spent early spring into most of the summer in "training mode" I had four Half Marathons on the book from April to October which meant I was logging some serious miles each month. Having those races scheduled gave my running more of a purpose for me, besides the usual therapy session it always is when I am pounding pavement. Having a race date meant I would be that I was ready for each one of those races. I kept up with my long runs and committed to cross training on my off days. By the fall I was even cross training and running both in the same day. Now it is the end of November and there are no more races on the schedule for the remainder of 2015. I am no longer training and it is time to shift my focus.

I have to admit I am conflicted with the fact that there isn't just "one more" Half Marathon before the end of the year. Then there is another part of me that is happy I can fall back into my running without having to complete a certain distance or time. My miles have decreased and as I write down each run and begin adding up my miles for November I hate that they have depleted as they have. The beginning of the month my husband was gone for ten days which cut out miles for me. I did some stroller running but that just isn't the same. I know with the winter weather coming that soon conditions will also limit my miles and how often I get outside. I do live in Vermont so it is inevitable that the snow will eventually fall.

The next couple of months I am going to do my best to take my focus off the miles and put it into strength training. Over the past year I have become stronger, faster and a better runner because of cross training. Just recently I purchased my first sandbag. I will blame this new obsession on my friend Annmarie from Fit Foodie Mama. I have been following this amazing chick and became fascinated with watching her sandbag workouts. Annmarie is a DVRT Master Instructor, fellow runner and foodie. (If you do not follow her I suggest you do! Trust me, she has some good stuff over on her site!) It was only a matter of time before I caved and invested in my own sandbag. That is exactly what happened a couple of weeks back! Guess what?! I love it!

Perfect timing for me to get into DVRT Sandbag workouts! While winter takes it's time to go by I can at least spend some time strength training and getting ready for running in 2016! I can't wait to start putting races on the calendar and running towards new goals. I would be lying if I said I didn't think about running...a lot! For me it is something I can call my own. Running frees me and makes me feel fierce. I know with every mile I am creating a better me. I don't do many things for myself, but I do run!

Exercise does not need to be work. It does not have to be dreadful. To be successful in any exercise routine you need to find something that you enjoy doing. I rarely do a workout a second time if I did not like it. For me I want my workouts to be fun. I want to feel like I did something. I want to sweat! These have been the key things for me in my cross training which make me want to do my workout. I have said it before and I will say it again: Grokker! I love the variety of workouts to choose from. I have been using Grokker for months and find it to be such an asset. There really is a workout for everyone on here. For the Foodie, they even have recipes!

Vermont winters may not be a runners best friend yet maybe this is Mother Nature's way of making me appreciate my runs even more when I do get out there.  I will fill the time in between with cross training and looking at the calendar to start planning for 2016! 

Happy Running And Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!!  


Friday, November 20, 2015

26 Thing I Am Grateful For

Last year I put together a list of 26 things that I am grateful for. With Thanksgiving just around the corner I thought it was a good time to share it again. Why 26? No reason honestly. After finishing the list I had a few more come to mind but figured I should stop somewhere. Here is my Grateful post!

I believe that we all need to practice living a life that is filled with gratitude. I feel that we become who we are with the help of everything that surrounds us. People. Things. The universe. It is easy to want more and forget about the little things that have become a part of your life. Those tiny little things that make up your world. I decided to create a list of the things that I am grateful for in my own life. No particular order or rank. Some have a deeper meaning than others. Some are simple things which make me happy. For each one I am grateful.

1- My children: I cannot imagine waking up without them each day. Every breathe of theirs becomes mine, every touch of their little fingers sets me on fire. I am grateful that they chose me. They teach me lessons every day. They have shown me love in a way that only children can. They chose me and I am beyond grateful.

2- My husband:  Our lives are intertwined by love, commitment, and friendship. We are a team, a unit, two people who vow to walk through this crazy life and handle whatever life throws at us. He is supportive, gentle, kind and loyal. He makes me smile and laugh. Our love is not perfect but is is honest and true.

3- My parents: The two people who gave me a loving and supportive home. Who taught me important values and lessons that I hope to pass on to my own children. They give love and support to my family and are the best Nana and Pop-Pop to their grandchildren.

4- My brother: For all the memories we have shared and for the ones we will create in the future as a family. It is a blessing to watch our children grow together. I am glad they all have one another, they will need one another later on.

5- My sister in law: She is not only my brothers wife, she is also my friend. An added bonus is she gave birth to my niece and nephew whom I adore.

6- Our home: I am fortunate that even though we do not own our place that is filled with love and laughter. We have made this house a home. The walls are stamped with memories over the past five years. We have a roof over our head and walls that keep us warm. This is home!

7- The animals: I couldn't imagine a house that I lived in that did not have furry creatures in it. I am grateful for the happiness they bring me and especially bring to my children. I have three loving and forgiving creatures which shed all over my house.

8- A kick ass job: I am happy that I have a part time job that helps me keep the balance between family and work. My bosses are wonderful and I feel appreciated.

9- My health: I am grateful that I am healthy, strong, and active. I consider it a blessing to be able to run and be active with my children. I will continue to work on myself and be a healthy me because it is a blessing to have the body I have.

10- Friends: Old and new, my heart is full when I think of all the amazing people in my life. I have wonderful friends who have supported me, loved me, and watch me grow as a person. I am beyond lucky to have a fabulous support system known as my friends! My tribe is always there when I need them.

11- My grandmother: I have one living grandparent that not only do I get to see on a regular basis but that my children get to spend time with. I am happy that both boys will have memories of her to share in the future.

12- Food: I always tell Chase that he needs to be thankful for the food we have and not be wasteful. I explain that not everyone has food like we do, we must be thankful for the things given to us. We may not always want what we have in front of us, but we must never take it for granted.

13- Beer and Wine: Same category so I will count them as one. I think they deserve to make the list! Lord knows there are days they helped me through!

14- My camera: I love capturing special moments . Simple moments. Silly moments. Pictures to me are treasures.

15- The Ocean: The sound of the waves. The sand on my feet. The memories I have created and will continue to create with my family while going to the ocean.

16- Being a Woman: Really, I am truly thankful for this. I am thankful for this amazing body that created, carried, and birthed two creatures. 

 17- My Boobs: Yes, they are a part of my body  and being a woman, but they deserve their own recognition. I am grateful for the milk that they made to nurse both my boys.

18- Laughter: My children's laughter and the ability to laugh. Good, deep down, belly laughs can make the worst day vanish.

19- Cupcakes: With lots of frosting!

20- Nexxus Hair Spray: I am serious, this stuff is the bomb. After trying several I keep going back to it. It tames your hair and doesn't make it feel like a rock. True Story!

21- Music: All different genres. The sound of it, the words, the ability to sing it, and the beat to dance to it. The magic of listening to an old song and having it take you right back to a specific moment and make you feel like you are right there.

22- For our soldiers: All the men and women who fight for this country and selflessly give themselves, sacrificing their lives and own family time during the holidays.

23- Second Chances & Forgiveness: Enough said here.

24- A Creemee on a hot summer night: I miss you summer!

25- Words: The power of them. A good book. An inspirational quote. Words spoken by the people we love; our partners, our children. 

26- God: I am grateful for a God. The higher being, whatever that means for each of us, who gave me all these things. Who has gifted me with this amazing life that I live. I am beyond grateful!

Take time to be thankful for all the things in your life. Not just the big things, but all those little things that fill the spaces in between that we tend to forget about. Say Thank You, hug tighter, kiss longer, smile at a stranger, say I Love You every day, and take time to stop and enjoy life. We are given today and not promised tomorrow; don't lose a chance to make today amazing.

Happy Thanksgiving!!! 
What are YOU Thankful for? 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

7 Life Lessons That Running Has Taught Me

When I began running I had no idea how it would change me. I started running to get into shape, be more fit, and live a healthier lifestyle. I never understood all the other things it would give me until some time and miles later. Running would not only physically change me, it would also become a metaphor for many things in life. Today I do my best to apply many of the  lessons I have learned from running into each day. Today I will share them with you.

1- Always Believe You Can: It is amazing to me what one can do when you apply this mantra. There was a time that running a mile was difficult. Running five miles became a monumental milestone. Completing my first Half Marathon was epic to me. I would have never reached any of these goals without the belief that I could do it. I knew it would be difficult, I knew it would take dedication, discipline and devotion. Everything in life requires these things. I truly believe we are capable of so much. Each one of us can reach our goals as long as we believe that we can. It starts within us before it can be a part of us.

2- Set Goals and Chase Your Dreams: I find that when I set running goals for myself I push myself to limits I may not have if those goals were not set. Those goals give me something to fight for. They give me the drive I need to push on when I want to stop. It is the same for myself and my family. I have aspirations, dreams and goals I want to complete. It is also important that my children see me set goals. I want them to dream big, create their own goals, and pursue whatever it is their hearts yearn for. Because remember, you can do anything you put your mind to if you want it bad enough!

3- Be Realistic: It is important in setting your goals that you set ones that are attainable. After years of running I have come to know what my body is capable of. In that same sentiment I also know what I am not able to do or what may require more patience. One of the hardest things in any sport and in life is facing disappointment. We want to perform the best we can. We want to do and be better than we are. Absolutely nothing is wrong with wanting more. There is nothing wrong with striving to be a better you and creating a life that exemplifies this. First, stop for a second and think about this: Is what you want for your life reasonable? Be honest, stay true to yourself and always be realistic.

4- Have Patience With Yourself: Patience is not always my strong suit. This is something I continue to struggle with on a daily basis. Running has proved to me that as long as you make a commitment, put in the time, and be patient that it all becomes worth it. When I first started running I didn't step outside my door and run ten miles. I had to take my time and slowly increase my mileage. I still remembered running two miles and the feeling I had when I completed it. The first time I hit six miles was a milestone for me, as was miles 7,8, and 9. I try my best to apply this patience in my own life, with my children, in my relationship and in my own personal battles. We have to take time to stop in moments. We need to realize that anything worth fighting for does not happen overnight. Stop, breathe life in, and be patient with yourself.

5- It's not always easy but it is always worth it: Saturday morning I did a long run and it was amazing. Sunday morning I woke up, felt great, got out there and had a shitty run. Each step I took felt heavy, the first mile felt like five, and I wanted to quit much sooner than I actually did. I wanted to, but I didn't. Instead I pushed myself to a mental goal. When I set out to do any run I have a mile goal in my head that I want to reach. No matter how the run turns out, I am going to reach that goal. I love running, running has become an outlet for me. I may love running, but not every run is easy. The end result, every run is worth it. No matter what life throws at you, however beautiful or sad, it happens for a reason. Though some moments are more challenging than others it is always worth it when you reach your goal. It is worth financial struggle, personal growth and those relationships that we live in. Life is not always easy, but it is one hell of a ride. Hold on tight, it's worth it!

6- Be Grateful: Running is a humbling sport. There is never a run that I have where I don't take time to thank God for being able to use my legs. Running has taught me, it has healed me, it has given me strength. I am grateful for each run. I am thankful that I am able to use my legs. I am thankful for my life, my children, my husband and family. I am thankful that I can breathe. I am grateful. We must always take moments to offer thanks and be grateful for everything we are given. When you think you have it bad just stop and remember that there is someone else who is hurting more than you. Each day be grateful!

7- Have Fun: Last, but certainly not the least valid: HAVE FUN! Enjoy what you are doing. Dance, laugh, sing, jump, run, walk and skip. Do one of these, do all of these, just do it with a smile on your face. Life is too short, it is a sacred gift. We are fortunate to be here and it is our job to live it as if each moment were our last. So no matter what you are doing try and do it with a smile. Find fun in every day even when it is the darkest of days. Look around you, it truly is wonderful to be alive

Be sure to come visit me over on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. I look forward to connecting with you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

No One Said It Would Be Easy

When I held both my boys in my arms for the first time it was like a fire was ignited inside me. I was overwhelmed by that euphoric feeling of love and amazement of the miracles they were. Some people think that newborns are hard and are happy to fast forward to the next stage. Me, I could keep having babies and be content with the nursing, wake ups through the nights and the twenty diapers I had to change throughout a twenty four hour period. It's the stage I am in now with my almost five year old that I feel is challenging. This is not easy, and this is what they all warned me about.

My four year old, Chase, is a lot like me. Let's call that problem number one. Problem number two is he is almost five. There is eye rolling, crying for no apparent reason, screaming, foot stomping, throwing toys, not picking up toys until told for the tenth time, refusing to share with his brother, biting his brother, hitting his brother, laughing when he is reprimanded, and simply just being annoying. Yes, I did just say my child was annoying. Don't you dare tell me you haven't thought it once about your little princess or prince!

Some Most days I feel like I just can't get a handle on this mommy thing. I can keep my cool for only so long then all of a sudden it is like a balloon popping. Blood rushes to my head and suddenly I am vomiting out of my mouth with words I regret the moment they spill off my lips. I am not intending to hurt my child, it is the very last thing I would ever intentionally do. I am not perfect and being a mother is the hardest job I have ever loved. Some days I do it with grace and others I cry wondering how the fuck to do it right. More importantly, will I ever get it right?!

One moment we are doing something so amazing and fun, the next it all goes to hell. I yell, I cry, I hide away feeling incredible guilt. In those moments I feel like the worst mother! I close my eyes and say I am sorry and promise to be better and try harder. I pray to God to give me strength and forgive me. I pray to be better. I do try, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I would like to say that each day gets a little easier, that I become a better mom. Truth be told each day is different. I do try and I will continue to try but not every day does it get better. Some days it just gets worse.

It is not every moment that I am baffled at this thing called motherhood. Most, but not all. I do love being a mom, I can't imagine my life without children in it. The four year old monster boy is also very sweet. I may have painted a picture of the ideal bratty child, he is not that. What my son is reflects a typical toddler. There are so many amazing things about this child. He can talk our ears off with stories and ramblings of nothing, yet he can make them sound so alluring in his little voice. He is a wonderful helper, always eager to do something for mama, daddy or his grandparents. He is artistic, the boy loves to play with paint and create a project. He is adventurous and curious, he loves a good walk in the woods.  He is has an electrifying energy that I envy. At the end of the day, no matter how awesome or ugly it has been, he always wants to cuddle.

I seem to have been struggling the past couple of weeks. Parenting surely has its ebbs and flows to it as we all know. A few months ago we had a rough spot and I was feeling out of control with my own feelings and most days down right helpless. I was angry at myself for my reactions and shitty parenting skills. No mother wants to harbor feelings of guilt and shame.

So of coarse when my husband went away for a weekend this summer and I was home alone with the kids  I found myself getting lost in the wonderful and evil world of Facebook. I came across this ad for a free seminar on parenting. It came with promises of helping you learn to stop yelling and be a better parent. With a few beers in me this seemed to be screaming my name. So why the hell not right?! I signed up and the next night I was going to be on my way to being a better mom.

The next night I sat at my computer eager and ready for the live webinar. I had my pen and paper out to take notes and was even a little nervous. I felt like I was right back in high school taking that important test that would allow me to graduate if I passed. This webinar had a live chat feed so you could see all the comments from other parents who think they too suck at this parenting thing. I was suddenly in a sea of other moms who were desperate to change their ways and be a better mom. There were several "I do that's" followed by "I am crying right now". I never participated in the conversation but truth be told, I was crying too. Nothing like a live webinar to make you feel even shittier than you already do!

After the webinar I attempted to use the strategies suggested and make some changes. It wasn't long before I realized that it was just like high school, I was again failing the exam. I was envious of this woman who promised to help all us moms parent better and without yelling. I was also pissed off that she could successfully do it. Oh, and for a small fortune you could sign up to get regular advice to help you be successful at parenting just like she was. This pisses me off to be honest. We are surrounded by parenting books and those who are "qualified" to tell you what you are doing wrong and how you can fix it. To me each family is different, each child is unique, and no one should be allowed to judge or throw stones at how one parents unless they are causing harm to a child. I am not saying that some parenting books do not contain some useful information, what I am saying is no one can say they are an expert at parenting someones child. Sometimes we are looking too hard at the big picture. We can always try harder yet are our expectations unreasonable? Maybe it is that we expect too much from ourselves.

This is part of my problem, I envision a mother I thought I would be rather than accepting the mother that I am. I am not the best mom, nor am I the worst one. I am the mom God gave me for these children. No matter how bad of a day I have had one thing will always be certain when I close my eyes at night, I wouldn't change one thing about my life. I wouldn't trade a moment of what I have been given. I struggle, just as many of us do, and that only will make me better and stronger. I am a mother to two amazing creatures, for this I am blessed.

I want my children to grow up and always know that I love them. More importantly, I want them to feel my love. I am not perfect, but I am trying and will never stop trying. My children may drive me absolutely batty at times, I may swear under my breath and occasionally yell a little too loud, but my love for them is the truest and most honest thing that I have to give them.

This parenting thing is hard. It can down right suck the very life out of you some days. It is also the most amazing ride I have ever been on. There are bumps and roadblocks. Mountains to climb and waters to swim through...but the destination is all the same. No one said it would be easy. But it is sure damn well worth it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What The Scale Doesn't Tell You

When I first began my journey to become a healthier and better me the scale was my best friend. I started counting calories, logging every meal, and weighing myself weekly to be sure I was on the right track. This strategy worked for me and I stuck to it for a couple of years. Every Tuesday morning I would get on the scale and those little numbers would flash at me letting me know if I was keeping up with my goals. The scale told me my weight in numbers but it did not tell me the things I needed to know which I would later learn. 

Each Person Is Unique: What a person weighs is a number that is individual to themselves. There is such a stigma put on people about what you "should" weigh, the ideal weight. Yes, there is an ideal weight for each person. That number is for that person and no one else. I may be the same height as my friend, we may be the same age, but that does not mean our bodies are the same at all. Be sure that you are comfortable with your weight. Check in with a doctor or nutritionist if you question what your target weight should be. Never go with what your friend weighs or a chart tells you you should weigh.

It's Better To Be Fit Than Skinny: Those damn numbers again! It is exciting when we see the scale go down. You need to be sure that in an effort to lose weight you are doing so in a healthy manner. When I initially lost weight I was focusing on what I was putting into my body. Then when I started to exercise and strength train on a regular basis I gained weight. I was still in the same size pants, I wasn't eating more, it was that I was in better shape and building muscle. It was hard to see the scale go up, I will not lie about that. In time I realized that those numbers were not important. When I looked in the mirror I could be proud of the work I put into being fit. No scale was going to take that away from me.

It's A Roller Coaster: Up and down and down and up. You can weigh yourself everyday, every week or once a month. Your weight is going to fluctuate! It is frustrating especially when you are trying with so much effort to reach a certain goal. I get it! Once you reach your goal try this, put your scale away. There are going to be vacations, Holidays and times when you slip up. Not every week is going to be perfect. I am not saying to never weigh yourself, it is important to stay on track, Maybe just not weigh yourself as often. Try this, instead of focusing on a number, focus on how you feel. Focus on your energy level, your exercise routine and the things you put into your body. Eat clean and wholesome foods and choose healthy alternatives whenever you can. Yes, it is okay to indulge. It is different for everyone yet for me keeping the balance is allowing myself a cheat day. This may not work everyone and some choose to not even tempt themselves. Do what is best for you.

Numbers Are Not Who You Are: No matter what you weigh here is something important to remember: The scale does not define who you are as a person. You are strong, beautiful, handsome, and amazing! It is not always easy to see it and certainly not something that we always feel. Do not get lost in your fitness journey. Embrace it and strive for a healthier you. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you are worth it. Be patient and know that the work takes time and effort. You can reach your goals and will as long as you stay committed.

It is important to be healthy and live a lifestyle that exemplifies this. It is also important to be good to yourself, to take care of yourself, and love yourself. 

I bought a really nice scale over two years ago. I can probably count on both hands how many times I have stepped on it since the day I got it. I no longer get caught up in the numbers because that is all they are. Those numbers do not define me, don't let them define you!

“Be brave and be patient. Have faith in yourself; trust in the significance of your life and the purpose of your passion. You are strong enough to sit in the space between spaces and allow divine inspiration to shed some light. When you put positive energy and productive effort into the world it will come back to you. Occasionally in ways you might not immediately understand and on a time frame you didn’t expect. Look. Listen. Learn. Stay open. Your destiny is awaiting you.” ~ Jillian Michaels 

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