Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Top 5 Posts for 2015

I decided this year I wanted to make a list and share my five top read posts. 2015 was such a wonderful year and this blog has changed and evolved over the past year in such a special way to me. I was actually surprised and pleased to see which ones you all liked. Here it is, my top five posts for 2015!

#5- Being The Other Woman

I wrote this as the woman I am looking back and reflecting on the woman I once was. It's a tribute to yesterday and learning to let go. "I use to know this woman. There were many things about her I will never forget. She lingers in my memory and once in awhile I can catch glimpses of her if I close my eyes and take a moment to drift back in time". This post is about evolving into the person you are meant to be while not forgetting where you came from. 

#4- Stronger With Every Mile

This post was a recap of my fourth Half Marathon and the second time I ran in the Vermont City Marathon as a two person team with my father. This is one of my favorite Half's I have done and this particular race was a physical and emotional challenge. It's about pushing yourself, believing in yourself and achieving your goals. 

#3- 7 Life Lessons That Running Has Taught Me 
Running has done more than just make me stronger and a healthier me. Running has given me life lessons that I can apply every day. It has taught me patience, discipline and gratitude. "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".

#2- Cold Weather Running: Staying Warm And Safe

Since I do not own a treadmill all my runs are done outside and through the winter. In this post I share cold weather running tips along with safety tips for running in the dark. Check it out and see some of the ways I stay safe and warm while running in the winter. 

#1- The Scar Only I Can See 

This post was personal to me as I share my feelings on the births of both my boys. My oldest son was born via emergency c-section and when I found out I was pregnant for my second son I planned and was passionate about a VBAC (Vaginal birth after cesarean). In the end both my children decided they had other plans for their birth. This post shares the struggle of my feelings not to have had been able to experience a vaginal birth. 

Thank you everyone who takes time to read my words. I appreciate and enjoy all the commenting, sharing and connecting that this blog brings. Cheers to a wonderful 2015 and here's wishing you all a year ahead filled with new journeys, love, laughter, good health and happiness!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Running Into A New Year: Lacing Up For New Goals

With the end of 2015 upon us I have been thinking hard about what I want 2016 to look like for me. I was thrilled to meet my goal for 2015 of completing four Half Marathons bringing me to a total of six Half Marathons in the books for me. In those races I was able to hit a PR of 1:36:43, I ran one of those Half's without looking at my watch at all and I managed to exceed last years miles logged for the year. With a new year brings new fitness goals. I want to push myself harder and come out even stronger in the year ahead. Here is what I am envisioning for the year ahead:

Running a race out of state: I am so excited that the day after Christmas I decided to give myself a gift and I registered for my first Half Marathon for 2016. The best part about this is it will be my first Half Marathon not in Vermont. Since I lived in Massachusetts for years and consider it "home", it seemed fitting that I run my first out of state race there. I signed up for the Worcester Running Festival Half Marathon! I got butterfly's in my stomach the moment I received my confirmation email. I am excited about the coarse and think this will be a fun race. 

A minimum of  Five Half Marathon's: Last year I set a goal for three to four Half Marathons from April to October. I was thrilled to hit four! This year the plan is to do four to five Half's by then end of 2016. Five of coarse is what I have in my heart set on yet the Vermont City Marathon that I split with my father is a race that is by lottery if you do not do the full Marathon. This was my first half in 2014 and has always been one of my favorite events, as a runner and a spectator. Fingers crossed when it comes time that the Running God's help me out so we get it! 

A race each month: Whether the distance be a 10K or 13.1 I would like to have a race on the calendar for each month from April to November.  This allows me to work on training in the early spring and continue with racing throughout the summer. I am a dedicated runner yet still find it pushes me harder to have a race scheduled. It becomes a challenge against myself to work on my intention and/or speed with each new race. I already have a growing list going of potential races to sign up for as registration opens for each one in the following year.

Increase my distance: The farthest distance I reached in 2015 was sixteen miles. The goal here is to complete a 30K in September. I will be honest, this one makes me nervous. I do believe it is attainable for me and with the right training I will be ready for it by the end of the summer. I figure with a few Half Marathons prior to the race and some longer runs in between, I can do it!

2015 was such a wonderful year personally and physically. I am grateful for my health, my body, and these legs which have carried me many miles. I am excited for what the next year will bring! 

Related Posts:
Finding Time To Exercise And Staying Active With Your Children
Taking The Focus Off Of Running
7 Life Lessons Running Has Taught Me
What The Scale Doesn't Tell You

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Finding Time to Exercise And Staying Active With Your Children

Hello mama's. I know how hard it is to try to stay fit when you have little creatures running around and always demanding something of you every second. They want "this" and they want "that." What do you want? Just thirty minutes to do something for yourself. You try your best to stay fit and squeeze in exercise as often as you can. Most days it seems near impossible! Once you think you have the kids occupied with something else all you have to do is start exercising then suddenly everything is falling apart and you can't even manage to get through the first five minutes without yelling pleading with your kids for a few minutes so mommy can do her exercises. I get it!

The best way I have discovered to try and stay active with having toddlers around is to include them. Be an example for your children. Living a healthy lifestyle is important for them to witness in order for them to continue to make healthy choices for themselves as they get older. Here are some ways to be active with your children:

Go for a walk or hike: My children love to be outside. If it is looking like a day where I may not be able to squeeze a run in or I just want to get moving with my kids, we often go for a walk or hike. I have been hiking with my almost five year old since he was a babe. He loves to be in the woods and calls it an "adventure". He often is the one to request a hike and we have a couple spots we frequent. Just the other day I was driving with the boys to run an errand and my son requested a walk in the Forest. Instead of doing my errands I turned the car around and went to the town forest so we could hike. I usually wear my two year so it becomes an even better work out for me. Hiking is definitely one of our favorite things to do together.

Yoga: Okay, so yes, I typically prefer to do yoga by myself. But let's not forget about the theme of this: having kids and exercising. My two year old does a pretty good downward facing dog. He definitely can get his hips up there better than I can. He is pretty hysterical trying to mimic poses. When there was just one child in this house I use to take my oldest to a Baby Yoga class. It was filled with little toddlers doing yoga and dance. Little yogi's are the cutest! Explore if your area has any classes like this, it is so much fun.

Strength Training: If you are trying to get your workout done and your kid wants to join in: improvise. Children love to imitate our actions! My oldest is really good at coming up with his own set of "weights" or "sandbag". For weights he uses two play handheld footballs and for a sandbag he stuffed it with his stuffed animals.  This way he can still exercise with me and I don't have to worry about him dropping the the kettle ball on his toes. So if your kid doesn't want to leave your side challenge them to join you and be creative with their own exercise equipment.

Have A Dance Party: We almost always have music on in our house. Both boys love to have me dance with them. We hold hands, jump, twirl and bounce around the room. It's not only fun but it gets us all moving in a healthy and happy way. Next time your kids are complaining they are bored or want to do something turn on some music and have fun.

Use Your Children As Exercise: This can be a fun one! If they won't get out of the way then pick them up and swing them around. Lay on the ground and suspend them in the air. Have them jump into your arms from the couch and lift them up. Who needs weights when you have toddlers! They will have a blast and you are sure to get a good workout. Believe me, it can get exhausting!

Stroller Running: Last but not least, if you are in need of a run but cannot find the time to do it without children, bring them along. I will be honest, I love running (I think we have all figured that one out by now!) yet I much prefer to run solo. Stroller running is not my first choice and it becomes a different workout. It takes a different mindset to get through a run and is not always the most enjoyable for me. The upside is I get to put in my run and my son gets to nap. It's a win-win. He loves to come along and we will sometimes stop after at a park to have a snack. It becomes quality time together which makes it worth every second of pushing that stroller for a few miles.

Staying active and being healthy is important for me and for my children. Obesity in children is sadly a problem for many children. While every child and situation is unique, we as parents are solely responsible for our children's health and well being. As parents we need to be setting healthy examples for our children in the food choices they make along with teaching the importance of being active. The CDC estimates that:

* Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

* Approximately 17% (or 12.7 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years  are obese.

That is sad to me. We are doing our children such a misfortune by neglecting to teach them about being healthy and making good choices for themselves. When they are not old enough to make these choices it is our responsibility to make decisions for them. We are our children's biggest role models. We are the ones they watch every day. They see every little thing that we do and desire to mimic us. They strive to be just like "mommy" or "daddy".  

Being active with our children is important. It doesn't have to feel like work, make it fun! Along with creating a healthier lifestyle you are also making some incredible memories. Both are pretty priceless if you ask me! 

Happy Holidays!!!

Related Posts:
My Favorite Smoothie Ingredients And Their Super Food Benefits
Taking The Focus Off Of Running
7 Life Lessons That Running Has Taught Me

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Safe Place For Our Children

I remember it like it was just yesterday, playing in the yard as a child with my brother. Barbie and G.I. Joe colliding  to save the day. Matchbox cars driving through dirt and mud. Magnifying glasses used to burn Japanese beetles. In the winter we built snow  forts. We built them high, made tunnels, and pretended it was our home. We played for hours on end never caring to spend time in the house. My parents wouldn't have let us anyway, if it was light and not freezing out we were expected to play outside. My mother could always just peek out the window to check on us. The echo's of our laughter and play could fill the air without much adult supervision. We were free, we were exploring, we were playing as children should, yet most of all...we were safe.

My oldest son,Chase, is almost five (next month!! Not sure how the hell that is even possible!) This kid loves to be outside. He loves to be active, to explore and be the boy he is. Dirt, stones, acorns, tree branches and worms are fascinating to him. His little mind is full of wonder and imagination. We are fortunate to live in a place where there are children around his age right next door and behind our house. Chase loves his buddies and the second he sees them outside he wants to be right there with them. I trust him and I know that he can be outside without direct supervision. I know he won't go near the road or roam off. He just wants to play. I trust him, but I don't trust the world in which he lives in.

It is the same thing when we go visit my folks. They live in a safe neighborhood with a fenced in yard. It's the same yard I played in growing up. I have to admit I have a hard time letting my son outside without me being right there. I get anxious and nervous, peering out the window to watch his little self enjoying the same things I did at his age. It's not the same. It is not the same world it was when I was growing up. What is safe anymore? What has this world turned into for our children?

I fear leaving my kids each time I do. The fear starts as mommy guilt, goes to "What if something happens to them", to "What if something happen to me?" and "What if someone hurts them?" That feeling of safety is no longer there for our children. It is filled with worry and dread. Trust has been thrown out the door and belief in kindness has been replaced with fear of our fellow human beings. It is utterly sad for me that my children will never be safe the way I was.

School use to be a safe place to be. I don't have any memories of shootings in schools the way our children will. It is unpredictable. It is her child, his child, and maybe even my child. No parent raises a child to be a killer, yet there are so many shootings involving our youth. None of those parents expect it or deserve it. It causes pain and grief for everyone. My heart aches for the parent that loses their child to such senselessness. I cannot even fathom the feeling those parents have when they receive word that their child will not be coming home. I hope to have to never experience what that pain is. I hope even more that my children never have to witness evil the way so many of our youth have.

It hurts my heart in a way that makes it difficult to even put into words. I wish my children could have the youth I once had. I want them to be able to explore, play and imagine without so many restrictions. Then comes the harsh reality that I cannot protect them from all of these evils. I cannot stop any of this from happening. I also cannot and will not stop them from living. I know how important it is for my children to BE CHILDREN! It's that simple yet so complicated all at once. I can't put my children in a bubble, and I wouldn't. They deserve to have what we did. They need to be able to experience life for all the wonderful things that it is.

I want a safe place for my children, for our children. I want a place without pain, sadness, grief and evil. That safety has to come from within the walls of our homes. It starts each morning as we get them up and every night as we kiss them before bed. It is in our arms as we hold them tight. It is in our words when we tell them we love them.

We cannot stop what goes on outside our homes. What we can do is practice acts of kindness. We can talk to our children and teach them about the power of love. We can teach them what peace is. It is not simple nor can just one person create safety for our children. It takes an army of us to protect our children: It's teachers, law enforcement and other parents; It is coaches, mentors and friends. I am thankful for the tribe which helps to raise and teach my children. I need them, you need them and our children need them.

This post is dedicated to the 20 young souls of Sandy Brook and their teachers, who left this world three years ago yesterday. May their memory bring comfort, peace and strength to their loved ones.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My Favorite Smoothie Ingredients And Their Super Food Benefits

Since eating fruits and vegetables is not always easy to fit into a busy day, each morning I have a smoothie. Every. Single. Day! I enjoy my smoothies and try to switch up what I use for fruits and vegetables. I enjoy experimenting and coming up with new combinations. For two years now I have been concocting smoothies to fuel my body. I have my smoothies right after a run or my workout for recovery and repair. Good nutrition is just as important as daily exercise is. Here are some of my favorite smoothie ingredients that have key nutritional benefits.

Chia Seeds: These tiny little seeds are full of amazing nutrition. In just one ounce of Chia seeds there is: 11 grams of Fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (5 of those contain Omega-3's!), 137 calories, 18 % Calcium, 30 % Manganese, 30% Magnesium, and 27% Phosphorous. That's not all! Chia seeds also contain zinc, Vitamin B's, and potassium. They are an excellent source of antioxidants and packed with high quality protein. This makes them a great addition to a smoothie. I have even been adding them to our Yummy Balls

Kale: This is such a super food that mixes well with different fruits. I love that in just one cup of kale it is packed with 6 carbs, 3 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and only 36 calories! It is filled with vitamins, nutrients, folate and magnesium. If you do not already have this on your grocery list then add it!

Spinach: Popeye is not the only one who loves spinach, smart man for sure! Spinach is my favorite veggie. I eat it every day and there are so many things that it pairs well with along with many different ways to eat it. I use spinach in each and every smoothie. Here is why everyone needs to eat spinach: It is low in fat, high in niacin, zinc, protein and fiber. Spinach contains folate, calcium, iron, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, manganese and magnesium. Grab a handful and throw it in! 

Cherries: Cherries are my new favorite fruit for my smoothies. Not only are they delicious yet the benefits from cherries make them a must in any diet, especially if you work out and run. Cherries have been found to reduce inflammation, aid in post exercise muscle pain, reduce the risk of stroke, good for your heart, support healthy sleep and contain cancer fighting agents. I keep a bag of them in my freezer and use them often.

Greek Yogurt: A spoonful of Greek yogurt goes in most of my smoothies. Greek yogurt contains calcium, protein (double the protein of regular yogurt), zinc and vitamins B6 and B12. Let's not forget about the probiotics we are adding to our bodies. Healthy bacteria helps maintain a healthy gut. It also makes your smoothie creamy as well as healthy! 

These are only a handful of ingredients to add to your smoothie. Be creative! You may be surprised at the combination of smoothies you can make and just how good they can be for you. This is an easy way to pack in your fruits and veggies while giving your body some essential vitamins and nutrients it needs. 

Looking for a couple smoothie ideas? Check out my post  5 Smoothie Combinations To Fuel Your Day


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Don't Throw Santa Under The Bus!

A few weeks back while at work there was a family that came in with their kitten. Having young children of my own (and because I love kids), I always try to engage children in conversation as I am setting up for an appointment. (For those that don't know I am a Veterinary Technician) My best guess was that the kids were around four and six. Since it was just before Thanksgiving I thought this would be a perfect time to bring up Santa! Most kids can't wait to rattle off the list they have created and are anxious to babble on about all the things they will ask for.

Let me preface this next paragraph by saying I do know that not everyone celebrates Christmas. I am aware that people do practice other religions and have their own traditions which do not include Santa. I decided to go out on a limb with it anyway and asked: "Are you getting your lists ready for Santa"? Both children took a moment before answering with a "No". I knew right then with how the room suddenly felt that I should have kept my big mouth shut and stuck to topics on furry animals rather than the man in the red suit. It was their mother who filled in the silence with: "We don't celebrate Christmas. It is too commercialized." Let's just say she had the last word on that conversation as I quickly jumped to how cute their kitten was and other ramblings that did not have a thing to do with Christmas.

Just like that Santa was thrown under the bus. Not because of religion, not because it was not their culture, yet because society has turned Christmas into dollar signs and presents. Yes, this mother is indeed right about that. I do not argue the fact that our culture has turned Christmas into a money making event. This does not mean we can't still celebrate Christmas and the mystery of Santa because of it. I believe it is our responsibility to teach our children what the holidays are really about. Let's face it friends, there are many things in society that will teach our children things we do not want them to know. Society will hand our children ideas that we cannot keep them from. Unless you have a bubble and a blindfold for your children you are not going to hide them away from what society has to say.

I have fallen in love with the holidays once again now that I have children of my own. Living their excitement through their eyes has been nothing short of amazing. I was brought up with Santa and I will be damned if I don't let my children experience him just as I did. As much as we talk about Santa, the elves (yes, I did falter to the evilness of those scary looking dolls. Ours are named Percy and Sheldon) and Rudolph we also talk about what the holidays mean. It is my job as a parent to teach my children that the days ahead are more than just gifts. It is my responsibility to talk about giving and sharing with others, doing kind deeds, donating and offering to help one another.

Here is what we can do during the holidays to teach our children what the holidays are truly about:

* Have your child divide up their toys. Make three piles: a pile to keep, a pile to throw away, and a pile to donate. I recently did this with my almost five year old and when given the responsibility he made some great choices. We got rid of toys that were broken and things that he didn't play with much he wanted to donate. We got a bag together and he brought it in to Goodwill. He was happy to donate his toys as we talk often about being thankful for the things we have that others don't.

* Donate food to a local shelter. This time of year there are several places that are in need of food, bedding, and even pet food. Check within your community and local family centers and see what they need. Have your children participate in gathering a bag of donations. This is something we have done the past couple years and my son loves to help put things in a bag. You don't always have to go buy things either. Take inventory of your own shelves and pantry, if there are doubles of anything put those things aside. Maybe you go grocery shopping and pick up an extra container of oatmeal, bag of pasta or can of beans. Every little bit counts!

* Talk to your children! Have conversations around what the holidays mean. Tell them how lucky they are. Explain that even though we exchange gifts and Santa comes that Christmas is much more than that. Teaching the value of family, love and compassion comes from home.

* Make homemade gifts with them. There is nothing more my son likes to do than to do a project of some sort and give away the end result away. He is always giving my husband and I something he made or insisting he draw something for his grandparents. He does this with such pride and excitement. Get art supplies, glitter, glue, and paint. The internet is full of wonderful craft ideas for homemade holiday gifts. Get crafty, be creative, and let them have fun. It will mean so much more to them if they make it!

These are just a few ideas and things I try to practice within my own home. I am not judging you if you choose not to celebrate Christmas or Santa because it is a spiritual decision. Yet before you try to destroy the magic of Santa just remember that Christmas is whatever we want it to be for our children. Don't throw Santa under the bus because of what society has made him! Let's teach our children about gratitude, love, and sharing during the holidays. Let's show them what the Christmas spirit truly is. Let's let Santa be a part of the holidays; leave the big guy alone! 

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