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7 Things I Learned from My Year of Training

“Let me start by saying I hated running, and I wasn’t good at it.”
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I started out running a few 5K’s these last couple of years and they were fun, but I wanted to accomplish something more. Last year I was sitting on the couch feeling like crap due to a night of drinking and eating when I turned on the TV and started watching the Broad Street Run (one of the oldest & largest races in Philly). I was amazed by the energy and excitement of everyone out there, actually so amazed that I decided I was going to do it. Why not? 10 miles – no big deal. Actually I knew it WAS A BIG DEAL – for me.

There were a couple of reasons I signed up. First, I wanted to see the city – mindfully. I’ve traveled down Broad St many times, rushing to class at Temple, going out for dinner and drinks, or hanging at a friend’s place. But usually that was flying down this major artery into the city trying to make every green light all while bypassing neighborhoods and dismissing all of the historic richness and hidden treasures of the city. My second reason was to accomplish something great, running 10 miles with 40,000 people through the City of Brotherly Love. So I gave myself one year to train and here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Give yourself time/Go at your own pace

I started out barely running a quarter mile before I was out of breath, taking my inhaler and walking for the next half minute. I knew I had time so I took it one day, one step at a time. At first it hurt, my breathing, my calves, my shins, it was painful some days but the pain passed quickly after the run. I read up on tips to see if it was normal and slowly pushed forward. Don’t compare!  Just go at your pace, you’ll get there and there’s plenty of advice out there if you need it.

2. You can push further than you think

For a while I was doing about a mile and a half and then would stop to walk, then run again. It seemed like I couldn’t push further than that mile, until one day I did. You can do it, you just have to push a little. BUT make sure sure it’s little by little. You can’t go from running 1 mile to 5 or you may get hurt, slowly increase distance. And remember it’s ok to walk too, but breaking the mental barrier is huge. And for me I noticed once I got past the first 2.5 miles it seemed a little easier, I settled into my pace. For me I know that the first 1.5 is harder than the 4th or 5th. Take notice each step of the way.

3. Cut down/out bad habits

About 6 months into my training, I hit a plateau and most of my issues were around breathing. I knew what I had to do! The day I signed up for the race I quit smoking. I was a one-a-day smoker but still a smoker. Quitting helped me add more distance onto my runs and after 1 week I noticed a huge difference in breathing and endurance. Another change I made was to drink more water. I was still having calf pain so I tried to be more conscious of water intake as well as less alcohol consumption when training for those long  weekend runs.

4. You will have cheerleaders but not everyone is team YOU

This one is interesting because I was feeling good about my progress and dedication, and some people are with you on that. But you’ll have others who mock it and they may be joking but there’s truth behind every joke. Some people would poke fun, make comments or snarky remarks, but I just brushed it off. There is always a green eye in the crowd just remember you’re doing it for you.

5. The pain DOES go away

It seemed like forever – months, but the shin and calf pain does go away. Just make sure you have rest days and keep it up.

6. You will feel better

For the longest time, I hated the run but loved the feeling after I ran, so much so that I felt bad on days I didn’t run. My initial goal was to complete the race not to lose weight but during training I lost a little. However losing weight or not overall I felt better and that’s what keeps me going – even now.

7. You gain freedom

This one came towards the end. It was like an epiphany. The last couple of weeks in training, I actually started to enjoy running and it was at this same time, and maybe had something to do with it, but I felt a sense of freedom. Working out or going for a run was my time. I stepped out the door, put my headphones in and it was just me, myself and I.

 

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Children Do Not Define You – You Do

I recently saw a facebook post from someone I know that said, “before I was a mom, life had no meaning”. My first thought was “I feel sad for this person!”

Having children is amazing, but children do not define you as a person. It’s important to maintain a sense of self. Your life.

There is so much meaning in life, and sometimes finding meaning or happiness can be difficult, but if you say children are the only thing that gives you meaning, what happens when they grow up, create their own life and leave the nest?

Does that mean your life will have no meaning again? Does that mean people who choose not to have children have no meaning?

Now, I know this was a personal remark for the person that posted it. I’m not judging and I haven’t walked in her shoes.  Life can be really hard and maybe having children is where she found the most joy and stability. But I couldn’t help and feel sad because life has so much meaning, more than you know at times. You may not see it, or feel it, but the people you spend time with do. Think about it, when you go to a funeral everyone is sad, they talk about the impact this person had on their life, the memories, the good times, the meaning they brought to each individual.

I’ve always believed that people come into your life for a reason, whether it be for a short while or years of friendship, positive or negative, you learn from them, you grow, you change, you come into your own. We are always evolving. When you’re a teenager, you do the some of same things as your friends, you want everyone to like you, but then as you get a little older and know what you want and who you are, you stop giving a shit about what others think or what’s considered “in”. Your experiences cultivate your growth.

This comment really intrigued me, it made me think about my own life.

As a mother of two children, whom I love dearly and put most of my energy towards at this point in my life, I don’t believe they are what defines me as a total person. Yes they gave me new meaning, and yes life revolves around them now because they are young, but that will change. They are a part of me and bring me joy, laughter, pride, stress and a vision of being a kid again. But my life has other meaning too – being a wife, a daughter, a friend, a colleague, a listener, a teacher, an inspiration.

I make sure that I have time for me, to do what I love. My husband and I make sure we have time for us. I’d love to do mission work later in life when my kids are grown. Since I am not able to now, I’m a blood donor – that “means” something to me. Doing something good for mankind and for someone else that means life or death.  I enjoy thinking of the memories we built before our children and I believe that is what helps us teach them, and share with them some pretty amazing things. What you put into life, is what you get out.

Before kids, I went to college, traveled, hung out with friends, shopped – I did whatever I wanted when I wanted. After I had kids, I still do all those things I enjoy (but now shopping is food shopping) and maybe a little differently. I chose my path and that is what makes me – ME. I continue to grow and learn each day. The old things I did then are less important and new things are more important, and this cycle will continue through my whole life.

Life goes through a series of phases pretty much with each decade, according to the people I talk to (20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s etc…) If you have kids they will be a big part of your life, but they will become independent individuals and begin their own journey. I recently heard someone give this advice “enjoy your spouse, make them happy, because that’s who you’re with when the kids are gone”.

If you don’t have a significant other, than it’s you. Love yourself, do what makes you happy. Children are a part of you, but they don’t define you, if anything, you have helped to define the beginning of their life.

Tofu and Veggie Couscous

IMG_20151110_174309290It had been a while since I made tofu so I bought some and then it sat in my fridge because I didn’t know what the hell to make with it. I looked at a few recipes for the sauce and then I dumbed it down because I usually don’t have all the ingredients. This recipe was fun because you can toss in any veggies you want! I used what I had on hand.

 

Ingredients

Tofu (Extra firm)

Chopped Broccoli (head)

Box of Israeli Couscous

Shredded Carrot (1)

Fresh Spinach (2-3 handfuls)

 

Sauce

2tablespoons canola/veg oil

3 garlic cloves (1 thinly sliced, 2 minced)

3 teaspoons fish sauce or tamari

1/3cup soy sauce

4teaspoons dark brown sugar

3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Sriracha to add heat *optional

Directions

Cut tofu up into bite size pieces and saute in vegetable oil for about 15 min turning over until slightly brown and crispy (I made mine the night before)

Cook couscous according to box add the broccoli in the water during the last 4 min to slightly cook it.

Meanwhile combine the minced garlic,  fish and soy sauces, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Toss this in with the tofu and let it simmer for a minute. Add the couscous and broccoli and shredded carrots and sriracha and mix well. Then add the fresh spinach and toss until it becomes wilted.

Enjoy.

 

 

Ringing in the New Year with Good Intentions

Well it’s finally here!

2014 is coming to end.

This is the time we think back on the year, remembering our accomplishments, failures, happy moments and sad times. All of these things help us grow into the person we are or strive to be.

Then we start planning our resolutions for the new year. We think about what we want to do, or how to be better, healthier and happier in the new year – 2015. Each year feels like a new beginning, holding hopeful promise of better things and it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s the giddiness of Christmas morning you felt as a kid!

I wish everyone an Awesome New Year! And remember as you make your list of “resolutions” success doesn’t happen over night. If you strive to be a better you each day, that’s all you can ask of yourself.

“It’s better to fall short of a high mark than to reach a low one”

H.C. Payne

Cheers to a safe and Happy New Year!

Favorite Blogs

A Life Less Bullshit

“It doesn’t matter how slow you’re moving as long as you’re moving” – Nicole Antoinette

Cordelia Calls It Quits

“There are better things to do with a life, and I aim to find them.” – Kelly Gurnett

Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY

She is an awesome photographer and features others in her blog. She gives some tips and ideas for people starting out with DSLR. Just looking at her photos is inspiring.

 The Positivity Solution
“There are two types of people in this world: The ones who make you feel better as soon as they walk into a room, and the ones who make you feel better as soon as they walk out of it.”
– Shola (Mom)

 

 

Money Can Take a Backseat

When You’re Stressed

Ask yourself “What’s Most Important to Me?”

Today I came into work a little stressed out and depressed about finances. It’s a big month for us, extra bills yada yada.  Anyway, as I’m stressing I’m trying to tell myself “hey you’ll figure it out, everything will be fine” and I know this but as a human being, I stress.

During my lunch break or the 10 min I take to eat lunch at my desk, I started checking my facebook and I saw a post from an old friend from grade school. There was a picture of a girl, whom I remember, and a heartfelt message with a condolence about how great of person she was and how she will be missed. She was young, 38 to be exact, and the the hashtag said fuckcancer.

My heart sunk. For I didn’t know this girl since say 6th-7th grade, but as soon as I saw the picture, I immediately flashed back to the school bus, the Catholic school we went to, and her family. I just keep thinking how sad and how young she was. 38! My brother just turned 38 yesterday. It’s a scary thing to think that could be any of us. I feel so sad for the family and her husband.

This isn’t the 1st person I know who has been diagnosed and passed from cancer at the young age of 30(something).

After reading and looking at all the pictures people posted of her life, I instantly stopped caring about my stupid financial stress. Because that’s what it is stupid and trivial. The people in your life – family, friends, and all the relationships you have are what’s really important. The rest of of it will fall into place. The little things we stress over will be gone in time. But the people we have lost will only forever be a memory. Even though some people say time will heal, it doesn’t. They will always be missed, and you just hope one day you come to peace with it.

As for my trivial issue, I got back to my work and saw an email that we will be getting an increase in wages and retroactive pay reflecting this increase. It’s like I said, it all works out.

But for them, the loss is only the beginning of a long road ahead. May they find peace.

 

Benefits of Cucumber Water

Today’s Inspiration: Cucumber Water

wpid-20140528_102355.jpgOver the Memorial Day Weekend I tried a new drink, Cucumber Martini. It was delicious, very refreshing and even with a little simple syrup, not too sweet. I love cucumbers but I tend to only eat them in salads. So today I decided to try plain cucumber water. I hear it’s the thing at spas. I wanted to give my water a boost by adding some natural flavors in addition to increasing my water intake.  Turns out I love it! I can’t wait to try other flavors like strawberry mint!

Curious about health benefits? I was, so I did a little research and here’s what I found.

1. Plenty of Vitamins &  good for your muscles: Cucumbers contain silica, a trace mineral necessary to keep connective tissue healthy. Cucumbers are also full of Vitamin K, which keep bones strong and healthy. Plus Vitamins A, B and C, which boost immunity, give you energy, and keep you radiant

2. Skin Friendly: The silica and antioxidants help your skin stay clear and supple. It’s also an anti-inflammatory which can reduce acne redness. Try washing your face with cucumber water in addition to your usual acne routine to reduce redness.

3. It’s low calorie: An entire cucumber averages about 45 calories so a few slices in your water is not

4. You may drink more water: We like things that taste good. Better tasting water just increase your intake.

5. It’s detoxifying: Antioxidants help your body fight free radicals, thereby promoting healthy aging and fighting disease.

6. It’s inexpensive: Cucumbers are the 4th most widely cultivated vegetable in the world. Organics cost a bit more, however, they are less expensive.

7. It’s easy: It takes just a few minutes to fill a pitcher (or glass) of water and slice a few cucumbers into it.

8. Goodbye Bloat: Cucumbers also act as a natural diuretic helping you get rid of that excess water and bloating.

Tip: The cucumber slices should soak in the water overnight to give you maximum flavor. Discard any unused water after two days to keep your beverage tasting fresh.

Cucumber skins contain vitamin A so buy the unwaxed kind. If adding waxed cucumbers to your water, peel the skin off first.

Wedding Anniversary Gift

Wedding Anniversary Gift

I made this today for my husband for our 4 year anniversary. It’s the lyrics to our wedding song “At Last” we chose this song because he took me to an Etta James concert for our first date. We got married in the DR, hence the map. I just need to frame it.

Cool Present in Lieu of Card

A Keepsake for Years

I saw a post today my friend shared on facebook, and I don’t remember the name of the blog (sorry I can’t reference). But the idea behind the post was instead of buying a card every year on Mother’s Day, you buy a journal, and every year the spouse and kids use a page in the journal to write something, post a picture, or draw.

I thought it was such a cute idea. It can even be used for birthdays, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day etc… I know for someone like me, who throws cards out, a journal is definitely a keepsake that I would cherish. I like the idea of my husband and kids writing the message, because it comes from the heart, (not that cards don’t) but it’s the words and thoughts directly from your loved ones.

The women who posted the blog article said the best part is that her children are young, so the journal starts out as scribbles and as the children grow it will turn into sentences. It reminds me of my kids’ preschool art that I saved.

This is something I can see myself looking at when I’m older and enjoying the memories they wrote about each year!