Category Archives: Exercise

Think You’re Past Your Prime? Think Again!

The last ten years I’ve been fascinated by race results. I began to notice a disturbing trend among female runners at race events: they seemed to be getting faster with age.

I say “disturbing” because I was under the false impression that if I just kept running, I’d be on the only one left to win the bling. Ha ha ha! Oh, contraire.

What the heck was going on? Why were women in their 40s running faster than their younger peers? Why were they smoking past me?

In my 30’s I would occasionally place in the top 3 of my age group. Sadly, I realized that if I didn’t get faster, I’d never take the podium.

You know what I think now? “Yeah. YOU GO GIRL. You go get that!”

Something happens to us when we “grow up.” We believe lies. We think we’re past our prime. We think sport is just for the more talented or for those girls who played varsity sports in college. We stop walking and running and pushing ourselves athletically. “It’s too late. We’ve missed it, blown our chance, and I never even played a sport in high school, let alone as a mom.”

Puh-lease.

Here’s the truth: We Are All Athletes.

Maybe we believe the lie because for many many years, it’s hard to do anything but work hard and nurture hard. There doesn’t seem to be any left over for us. This is where our ingenuity must kick in. We have to do squats while folding laundry, perform calf raises while vacuuming the stairs, get in some arm circles while in our work cubicle, skip lunch with colleagues to walk around the block. Staying at home doesn’t make it easier. There were always babies saying, “You want to work out in peace and quiet? Get real!” (good thing they’re so cute.)

How many times did I look like a dork trying to run up a hill pushing a stroller while mixing in lunges and swinging my legs for hip mobility? The baby was always screaming and I’d be throwing cheerios down at her while gasping out a Cinderella or Peter Pan story all the while experiencing milk letdown. Oh yeah, I was a beauty out there with my stroller.

And than there were days where it was just too much energy to dress the baby and myself and a toddler in all those layers when it was so cold. There were many many days of missed workouts. But I also knew this: a little goes a long way. So over the years I tried to get a little bit here, a little bit there.

I felt slow in my 20s and even slower in my early 30s. There were times when I couldn’t run more than a mile without stopping to walk, when I was just too tired and it was too late to get on the elliptical. But there were other times that I did. How serendipitous it was to find running buddies (bless you!), an awesome running watch (bff for life!), a few 5ks while dear husband watched children. I played indoor and outdoor soccer on a real team for as long as I could. One year the season started when Nelson was just two months and I had to bring him with me because I was nursing. I remember running onto the field to join my teammates and they turned around and started clapping. That moment still makes me want to weep, it meant so much. Sisters cheering for their sisters!

I remember Meredith and I getting permission to bring a big Hogwarts bus to one of our soccer games so all of our kids would fit. We laughed like crazy and I nursed Nelson behind a tree during halftime, all sweaty and gross! (sorry, Nellie boy for that image 🙂 ). I remember thinking at the time, “what the heck am I doing???” But a voice was saying: just keep your foot in the game. I was slower, underweight, had looser joints and was severely sleep deprived. There was also the pleasure of milk letdown while trapping a throw in. Heavens. It was worth it. God gave me this body and when I was running down that field I felt His pleasure (to paraphrase a hero, Eric Liddel.)

As my kids grew older and my own hobbies and teams took a back seat, I volunteered to coach because I loved the game and wanted to spend time with my children. I also hoped it would keep me in shape. It helped. I make the effort to keep playing summer soccer at least once a week with my children, even as they overtake me in speed and touch. But I can’t stop. I have role models out on the field inspiring me, and yes, maybe I too can be that person for someone else.

I feel this huge surge of pride every time I take the field. No, I’m not first, not the quickest, and can’t get that shot off as fast as I use to, but no matter. Console yourself with these words: at least you’re out there.

We hear all sorts of negativity: “you’re going to slow down,” ” you’re going to get old and your knees will hurt,” and “things change after 40.” Yeah, the body changes, but life isn’t even close to over at 40. It’s not over at your wedding. It’s not over when you get pregnant. It’s not over when you have your first baby or your fifth. You’ll have to work to “get back,” but didn’t you have to work when you were 15? I tell you what, I’m way faster and can run way farther than I ever could at 15.

And I happen to think that’s wicked cool.

Two weekends ago I ran the Cape Cod half-marathon. Robin is a veteran runner with dozen of halfs and full marathons behind her. She’s 48, my friends, and she’s still going at it! My sister-in-law, Jill, is 44 and just finished her FIRST half marathon, running under 2 hours! So impressive. This is only the beginning.

half6

Thank you, Brendaen, for the pictures! I used the semi-decent ones…ugh, you should see some of my running shots 🙁

half4 Want another good reason to run? You get bling bling!

amy2One of the most rewarding parts of sports as a mom is having your children cheer you on, an odd but needful reversal of of roles. Yes, mom has legs. Yes, mom has hobbies. Yes, mom has interests others than chore charts. Yes, mom is a person! Mom kindof rocks.

amy1And no, she’s not ever going to stop trying!

This was at mile 6. I had downloaded the Hamilton CD. The song “I am not throwing away my shot” was on repeat. 🙂

jill2 Jill came through the finish line blowing kisses to her daughters and husband – it was SO cool. “Wow, mom just ran 13.1 miles!” Remember all those mornings when she got up before we were up to get in her training run before she had to help us pack a lunch and drive us to school before she could even eat or take a shower? Wow, GO MOM. This moment? So empowering.

half3I ran the Cape Cod half with my friend, Eric, in mind. Eric is in the late stages of ALS and cannot move any part of his body except to blink, speak some, and move his fingers. We stayed with Eric’s parents at the cape and when I was out there on the road, I thought of Eric. What would he give to be able to run just once more? Maybe we should move just because we CAN.

jill4You did it. And it was so not easy. So proud.

Stats from the Cape Cod half were eye-opening. There were 1,307 female runners. Of the top ten female finishers, four were in their 20s (29, 29, 24). Four were in their 30s (33, 34, 32, 33), one was 49, and one was 52! They all ran super close races, too. The first place 29-year-old ran a 1:16:52; 5:49 minute/mile splits for 13.1 miles – wicked fast!

The 52-year-old woman ran a 1:30:57; that’s a 7:01 minute/mile pace for 13.1 miles! At 52 years old.

Overall, the women 39 and under ran faster than women in their 40s; but the 40s, 50s, and 60-year-olds were still competitive. Sidney Letendre, a 62-year-old ran a 1:40:31; 7:40 minute mile splits! And Nancy Spiro, age 74, ran a 2:15:39. Of course, these are the top finishers in their age group, but there were many many more runners post-40 runner. Incredible. Inspirational.

Think it’s all talent? Oh no. It’s time and training. Which is good news for us all: we can all do it.

Don’t think it’s going to get easier when “the kids are older.” Twice a week I run at 5, not because I want to but because it’s the only time I can fit it in. It’s kindof horrible. But I’m realizing life is not slowing down anytime soon, and tomorrow has a way of turning into never. There is only today.

A few years ago I emailed running coach, Jason Fitzgerald of strengthrunning.com, to ask if he knew if their women in their 40s were running faster than women in their 20s and 30s, or if I was making this up. We couldn’t come up with any scientific answers except anecdotally. In our 20s and young 30s, women tend to be in the pregnancy and child rearing years, taking them out of the competition stage. But what I love about that, is that many are coming back to run or starting to run for the first time in their later 30s or early 40s. Next time you’re at a race, check the stats – women in their 40s and 50s are getting after it.

I write this post as an anthem to YOU! To women. Your life is not over at 20, at 30, not 40 or 70. Not by a long shot. Your knees might creak a bit more (stretch your butt!) and you might need more of a warm-up than you did at 14. You may get sidelined for awhile. You might even need a knee or hip replacement and you might have battled a cancer scare, but I tell you what, I know a lot of women who can walk and run and bike farther and faster than many many kids. It’s not because they’re the “lucky ones.” It’s not all that mysterious. It’s because they’re putting in a little bit of time, a little bit of dedication to use that amazing body of theirs.

Love you girls. Use that smokin’ hot body of yours 🙂 If you love it, it will love you back. Guaranteed.

Okay. Now go schedule something. Put it on the calendar. Make your friend sign up too and you’ve got an accountability buddy instead of a wish. Go get it.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. -Henry David Thoreau

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The Strong Mommy = Smokin’ Hot

As I type this I can barely feel my quads. It hurts to walk up stairs. Trying to get down the stairs? It’s more like a slide.

I’ve just spent half a week with these guys:IMG_2417

The best thing about working with high schoolers? They keep you young. You can do handstands on the wall.

This week was called “Project Period,” where each student finds a project they want to participate in. Me and this guy named Superman did “The Ultimate Training Program.”

But Superman is still moving.IMG_2440

Here is our group. Not counting me, there was one girl. We were BFFs. I’ll call her Awesome.

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Day One: A Lot of Squats.

Superman had us to “The Cindy” from Crossfit. It looks like this:

Cindy
Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can:
5 Pull-ups
10 Push-ups
15 Squats

Cindy must be one good-lookin’ chick.

Just a 20 minute workout? It’s a killer!

Day Two:

15 mile run and “The Fran”

“Fran”
21 Thrusters
21 Pull-ups

Repeat three times, but drop reps to 15 and then 9. DYING.

After Fran? Eat a Cinnamon Roll.cinn

Preferably with a giant knife. Divided four ways. The only time it’s allowed.

We did these like a Crossfit competition, paired up and recording our times. IMG_2469

We did a lot of pull-ups. When I was nine years old, I could actually do three pull-ups. Now I can’t even do one without assistance. Don’t feel bad, girls. We just need to work out upper bodies out.

You see, if I learned anything this week it’s this: Go towards the thing that is hard – not away! Not good at something? You just  need to practice.

I need a lot of practice at that pull-up. For modification, I did jump pull-ups which means I jumped up off a box so I was never hanging.IMG_2427

Here’s Superman showing us another sit-up variation. This one is great (feet tucked under than bar, butt slightly off bench) because it gets a full range of motion.

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How you fight. Boys EAT this stuff up!

I didn’t fight. I took the picture.IMG_2422

What would you do if someone put you in a headlock? I’m still not sure. I need lessons.

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Boys.

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The girl comes to join us. Sorry for the blur. My arms were jello.

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My kicks. Just in case you wanted to know.

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Here was Day Three Competition. Oh. My. My. My.

Burpees? Hard!

Wall Walks? I wasn’t so good at that. In fact, let’s just forget I mentioned it.

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I used chalk for the first time. And it wasn’t for writing on sidewalks.

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Day Four: Fight Gone Bad. That’s really what it was called!

Oh, it was bad. Real bad.IMG_2599

Wall Med Ball Throws, Squat/DeadLift/Press, Box Jumps, Push Press, Row.

Do each one for one minute. Count how many total reps. One minute rest. Repeat THREE TIMES.

The expression “sucking wind”? Yes.

What’s so great about these workouts? They are SHORT. Who has all day to workout? No one that I know! You don’t need a lot.

But you do need somethin’.IMG_2609

Get it girl! This is the Squat/Deadlift

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Brynne became the photographer. I was smiling at first.

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Yeah, that didn’t last long.

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I was really there to make the smoothie. Recovery drinks, you know!

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So fun. So tired.

And now? Shower. Lay on couch. Eat.

Girls, listen. We need to be strong. So many women avoid strength training because they’re scared, intimidated or just lazy (sorry!). But then we have kids and can’t pick them up.

We’re so weak it hurts to put away the groceries. Our backs hurt because our core is weak and flabby.

Forget the scale. Get strong because it makes you FEEL GOOD. Because it helps you rock children, chase your son, ride your bike with your daughter.

Being strong is sexy.

I heard it right from Calvin’s mouth, a teenage boy. “Strong is just smokin’ hot.”

So there you go. Cindy, Fran, Fight Gone Bad.

YOU be the Superwoman.

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My "Pretty Run Fasters" and a Marathon Check List

I’ve had this giddy, expectant feeling for days, like waiting for a baby to be born.  In 1:17:56 I will step off the start line and run the Hartford marathon. Which truly will be a laborous.

To say I’m nervous is not quite the word.  A little sweaty, clammy.  A little twitchy.

Last week I felt unstoppable and healthy.  This week I keep expecting to trip and break my ankle.  What’s that tickle in my throat?  Oh my gosh, am I’m getting the flu?  I’m feeling fairly hypochondriac so please don’t sneeze on me today.

After all the long miles, will it all come together?  I’m hoping for the perfect race. 

A marathon check-list:

Ask and Ye Shall Receive:  Runner’s World is a great place to start, but I’ve been asking many marathoners how to actually run a marathon.  My running buddy, Maryn, and Coach Brian are full of gems and words of wisdom that will surely save me many mistakes.

Sleep:  

I have to pick up my race packet the night before so I am going up a day early and spending the night at a hopefully-good(!) hotel.  Non-smoking.  I will bring my own pillow, soft and warm pajamas, and ear plugs just in case my race buddies are…less quiet at night time than I am.













Clothing:
Check the weather! I’ll definitely be wearing shorts and short sleeve shirt or tank for this race.  

I’ll lay out clothes the night before and gaze at them fondly…

Must wear warm clothes until the very last minute to keep muscles warm!

Most comfortable sports bra and socks.  And of course, must not forget to pack the shoes!

Directions:  Even though I’ve driven to Hartford (several times) I’m so sure I can manage to get lost that I’m printing out directions and turning on GPS.  This is one of my biggest race stressors.  My husband cannot understand how my internal GPS can be so bad.  It’s really bad.

Tunes:  I like music when I’m running a long distance so I made a very special marathon playlis that now includes some Glee, Aerosmith, Carrie Underwood, Matt Nathanson, Katy Perry – and more! Ipod is fully charged.

The Watch:  Can’t run without it.  Watch is fully charged.  It’s very unnerving to turn on your watch right before a race only discover you forgot to charge it….err. Been there.  Don’t wear a watch?  Lucky you. I don’t run that free and easy.

A Goal:  
Perhaps I shouldn’t have, but I did.  I began to dream of qualifying for Boston. I have to run a 3:40 to qualify. And. Boston competition is so fierce, that that still might not get me in.  Coach Brian says to shoot for 3:37. A 3:35 will mean I have to run 8:12 mile splits. I have not done this, um, ever, for 26.2 miles.  I don’t know what to expect, but I’m going to give it a shot.  Hartford has pacers with big signs you can find before the race.  If you stay with your pacer, they’ll get you across the finish line. Dream big, right?








Pacing:  If I’d been more on the ball, I would have ordered a pace tattoo.  Now I’ll be writing pace markers on my arm with a sharpie – miles 6, 13, 18, and 22.

Beauty:  Hair elastic. Stretchy hair headband.  Face lotion with SPF.  I happen to like a Trader Joe’s variety.  I also rub conditioner on the ends of my hair before tying it up in a messy bun b/c sweat and salt make it so dry and my poor color…running is hard on hair! If I were brave I’d go grey naturally.  I could probably be a beautiful white by the time I was 50.  But I’m not brave that way. Boo.

Fuel:  This is a make or break item.  It’s so important, but since I’ve never run 26.2, I’m not exactly sure what to expect.  I do know, that I must not change anything in my diet between now and then.  Here’s what I packed for pre-race loading:  1 loaf 12 grain bread, 1 jar peanut butter (with knife!), bananas, apples, nuts and pretzels.  This is for the night before, and morning-of breakfast. 

2 hours before race:  I will begin to sip an 18oz water bottle filled with water, 1 Emergen-C, and 1 scoop AC-G3. This is just my personal pre-race fuel preference.

During Race:  I’m going to carry at least 3-4 gels or bloks and take them at miles 6, 12, 18, and possibly 22. I tend to get very hungry during long runs and I’m a little worried about fuel.  Coach Brian tells me I must use caffeine in my gels or bloks – “if you’re not a caffeine person it will make you a rocket.”  I obviously want to be the rocket!  He slipped me some GU in the school parking lot this afternoon. If you saw us make the exchange, that’s what it was.  Really.

Post Fuel:  The race will provide.  Not too worried.  I’ll find food. or kill a bear.

Other items not to forget:
Phone charger
Warm pants to wear until the last minute
Toiletries
Allergy pills (in case hotel isn’t friendly)
Clothes to change into after the marathon
Cash


Luck:  We must not forget luck!

I’m not usually superstitious about anything.  But I’m wearing two bracelets I believe will carry me through: The first is a friendship bracelet Brynne made me.  During one grueling run last month I looked down at it and felt the ghosts of my girls running with me.  I knew then, that I couldn’t take it off until after the marathon.  I just know Brynne’s fiery spirit will stay with me.

The second is a soccer bracelet all my soccer kids signed. Since I can’t be at their soccer jamboree, I’m just taking them with me. Running for something or someone is very inspiring.












A friend ordered a new pair of Newtons for me (discount alert: firemen and police officers can get you a discount on Newton running shoes!).

So now I have shoes, but these are special shoes.  They are called my “pretty run fasters.”

These shoes sat at my friend’s house for a few days until I finally drove by to pick them up.  There are two adorable little girls who live at this house and for days they couldn’t stop looking at my new bright, beautiful running shoes. Mason, the littlest, kept calling them her “pretty run fasters.”  

I thought that was pretty much the best thing I’d ever heard, especially when her mom told me they call Mason, “Masie” which is just too close to “Maisy” to be a coincidence don’t you think???

None of this matters of course, if you haven’t put in the training. But if you’ve trained, got some luck with you, and your “pretty run fasters,” I’ve got to believe we will run the race we were meant to run. 

I also include a prayer… Please God, don’t let me bonk.

Do you have any advice for me?  I would love to hear it.  And now I say farewell – See you at the finish line!
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A Year of Living Without

I’ve been mulling this idea for over a month now, debating whether or not I really wanted to do it.

It’s called A Year of Living Without, or:  How I Made Room for Life.  I got the idea from Leo of Zen Habits who is also having a year of living without.  

This is where I give up one thing I enjoy each month and replace it with something else.

You can see why I wouldn’t want to do this, right?  Who really wants to give up Nashville?

But I’ve always been intrigued with the concept of self-mastery.  Can we truly master ourselves and our “natural” and human impulses?  Of course we can.

I also long to simplify life, to banish the clutter in my head, and truly live with what is most important.  I am convinced that living without something I want for a whole month will give me greater self-discipline in areas I want to “master”: parenting, spirituality, running, and writing.

Leo has different things he’s giving up, but I tweaked the list for my benefit.

12 Things I Will Live Without:

1.  July:  Nail Biting.  July was last month, I know, but I was still deciding whether or not to accept the challenge.  I did it. I went a whole month without biting my nails.  To do this, I had to know what the triggers are.  The trigger is the small jagged edge of a nail.  When I start feeling it, I bring my finger to my mouth.  STOP.  Replacement Habit:  Instead of biting I cut my nails, used a file my mother always keeps in her car, or just refrained from biting.  Is this a habit I want to break permanently?  YES.

2.  August:  Television.  I don’t watch any t.v. during the day.  The vice is at night when all the kids are finally in bed, and I sit down and watch a show with my husband.  It’s a lovely time, a mindless activity we both enjoy doing.  Gregor thinks this is stupid to give up 🙂 but I want to see how easy or hard it is. Note I’m not giving up movies.  Replacement Habit:  Read a book.

3.  September: Raising My Voice.  I purposely chose this one for September for two reasons:  School is starting.  Coaching begins.  I don’t yell a lot, but I raise my voice a lot…Calling for a kid upstairs, outside, downstairs, hurry up, we’re late, dribble, shoot.  Can I really not raise my voice while parenting and coaching soccer?  A soccer field is a huge space.  Can I be so effective with my body language and whistle that I won’t need to raise my voice?  Replacement Habit: Lower my voice, be commanding in action.  This one will be hard.

4.  October:  Email before Noon.  I admit, the first thing I like to do when I get up, before anyone else is awake, is check my email.  And since I have it on my phone, it’s even easier.  Instead of praying or meditating or writing or reading, or thinking about the day, I check my in-box.  I feel slightly addicted to email and want to be free of the pull for awhile, see if it helps me accomplish more.  I think I’ll be twitchy for days.  Replacement Habit:  Write a novel.

5.  November:  Late Nights.  My goal is to be in bed before 10 p.m.  I can function pretty well on 7 hours, but 8 is even better.  I have a feeling that being in bed before 10 p.m. will do wonders for my happiness and energy factor, but this one will also be hard, especially as it’s close to the holidays.  Replacement Habit: Sleep and reading in bed (dreamy!)

6.  December:  Gossip.  I don’t feel I’m a huge gossip, but I admit I like a juicy tidbit here and there. Especially where my husband and I work at a school, there is always so much good gossip!  I’d like my name and my house though, to be a place where other people feel their name is safe.  If you want to gossip with me this month, be advised I may listen and smile politely, but you will have to wait for January for me to contribute. Kidding.  Maybe I can break the habit all together. Replacement Habit:  Change the subject, read a book, comment on the weather 🙂

7.  January:  Candy.  Oh dear, this was hard for me to put on the list.  When I’m writing in the afternoon, I love to snack on Junior Mints.  I love a good chocolate bar.  Sometimes those Starbursts just really hit the spot.  I’m giving it up this month, right after the Christmas holiday.  There could be serious withdrawal, be advised.  Replacement Habit:  Fruit?

8.  February:  Fast Food.  I live far from civilization; there are no fast food places in my town except a pizza place.  I’m defining fast food as take-out.  Fast food is a vice when I am coming home from the orthodontist with a child, or am tired and hungry after hitting Target.  Too bad for Mama.  No greasy french fries this month.  Replacement Habit:  Keep driving!  Grocery store.

9.  March:  Soda.  I rarely drink soda, but again, it’s the afternoon witching hour when I’m tired and a Diet Coke over ice just reaaaalllly hits the spot.  The caffeine and the taste are such a pick-me-up.  I indulge only 1-2 times per week, but it’s a treat I enjoy.  Replacement Habit:  water over ice, juice

10.  April:  Sitting for Longer than 30 minutes.  I do tons of sitting while writing and reading.  I hunch over.  My posture is worsening.  Every 30 minutes I will get up and move.  This should energize and help me not be so stiff. Replacement Habit:  Stand while writing, stretch, push-ups, walking

11.  May:  Red Meat.  I purposely put “red meat” and not just meat because I still want to eat chicken and even though I know that dairy, eggs, beans and dark, leafy greens will give me sufficient protein, I like a little chicken, fish, or pork at dinner time.  A little meat is also a healthy habit, not something I need to make many changes with.  Perhaps someday I’ll be able to try being a vegetarian, but this is not yet that time.  Replacement Habit:  More beans at dinnertime

12. June:  Buying New Things.  Is there really anything I need to buy?  I’ll buy food and shop for the family, but I won’t buy anything new like clothes, shoes, or hair products 🙂 for the entire month.  We shall live by the law of frugality. Replacement Habit:  Purge more, have a yard sale, enjoy what I already have

13.  July:  The Internet.  My husband says there’s no way this is possible, but it will be easier to give up the internet in July rather than during the school year because it’s summer time.  I will write posts (I think?) but no blog reading, people.com (yikes!), or CNN articles.  I think this will be a hard one, especially if I’m doing any sort of research for an article I’m assigned.  Replacement Habit: Write a book, read more, talk to my kids and family

I purposely chose Actions rather than Feelings.  For instance, making the goal to quit feeling badly after a writing rejection really isn’t something I can control.  I chose things that I can control and are within my power.  I cannot control someone else’s action, only my reaction.

Things I’m Already Living Without:
Coffee
Alcohol
Tea
Smoking
Debt.  Except for our home.
Brussel Sprouts

I’ve never had any of these things, so this isn’t hard to live without.


Things I Wanted to Put on the List But Didn’t Want to Give Up:
Processed Food.  I don’t eat a ton of it, but almost every morning I make a smoothie and have a peanut butter sandwich on high quality, multi-grain bread.  I like it, it makes me feel good, and I don’t want to have to make bread so often.  I wimped out.  
White Sugar
White Rice
Goldfish crackers and boxed brownie mixes?  Not so willing to give up!
Social Media.  This would be the easiest on the list to give up since I’m not all that active, but it would be hard to completely disconnect
iPhone.  Especially now that I have a teenager with a phone who texts me all the time with schedules and rides, it would be hard to live without

Things I Wanted to Put on the List and Want to Give Up:
I seriously considered cooking and cleaning, but worried my home would be condemned within hours.  Still, “refusing to clean up after others” may be an eye-opening experience for everyone.

Why Am I Doing This?
To Master myself. I think it’s false that we can’t live without.  I also believe that too much of this good, but extra “stuff” keeps us from some of the best stuff, like our families.

So, here’s to a year without.  If you care to join me, I would sure love your company!  I would also love to hear your comments on what would be hard for you to give up, or what you would give up instead of what I have listed.  Good luck!

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier – not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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Fit Tip Monday: Quad Stretch

Miles Run: 4
Indecision Stress: High

The question?  To train for a marathon or not.  That is the question.  After Boston this year, I was psyched and ready to go.  But looking at training schedules makes me question.  My mind starts freaking out that I just can’t do everything I want to do right this very minute.

Marathon training requires dedication.  Life revolves getting the training runs in, the long run every single weekend (often 2-3 hours of running), eating, fuel choices, early bed-times.  Do I want to commit to that right now?  And committing to that means letting go of what else?

Life is SO busy right now with kids, writing goals, sports nutrition job opp. for the fall, garden, house, church/volunteer, my hair…well, that could use some one-on-one time, too…

Tell me, are you in this land of indecision?  The time to plan for a marathon is now, brown cow.  Counsel me.

And now back to the fit tip.  

While you run and walk and train and stretch, here’s a little tip when stretching your quadriceps.  Made up of four muscles, and covering the largest bone in your body (the femur) the quad is often strained and not stretched properly.  This can pull your out of alignment and make all sorts of connecting muscles and joints hurt (knees, hamstrings, back…)

Let us go to one quad stretch and some reeeeaaally good photography skills:
Correct.  When you stretch your quad, you should use the same ARM and same LEG.  Right hand reaches down and grabs Right foot.  

Then you can verrrrry slowly pull that foot out; you will feel a slight difference in the muscles being stretched.  Balancing that picture with the camera was no easy feat, ya know.

Incorrect.  Bad.  Why?  I cringe when my kids do this.  It doesn’t hurt them now, but if you pull your leg and knee out in all different directions, you are putting a tremendous amount of strain on the knee joint.

And you only have one pair of knees.

Knees are not to be taken for granted.  When you hit your 30’s you’ll be glad you were nice to them.  Preserve cartilage!  Stretch correctly.  Avoid unnecessary strain.

Same arm, same leg.  10-20 seconds.

The end.

Happy Monday!

p.s.  trying to follow husband around taking pictures of him stretching for the blog has not been incredibly successful.  If you’d like to volunteer your services, please be in touch 🙂

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Fit Tip Monday: Lazy Lump to 5k

I couldn’t just write, “Couch to 5k” – that’s been done!  So I borrowed one of my mother’s favorite phrases:  Lazy lump.  If I could count the number of times I heard “lazy lump” growing up…”Now, don’t be a lazy lump” or “Get off your lazy lump and practice the piano!”  You see the loving environment in which I grew up?  Everything I am I owe to my angel mother.

Do you have dreams of running a 5k this summer?  
Alright then, it’s time to start training. 

In my other life, I was a part-time Anatomy & Physiology teacher and strength and conditioning coach to high school sports teams.  Really.   One of my friends laughed when I told her what I “did.”  I still can’t figure out how I should have taken that.  So I blinked.

This is me and my soccer team.  We have tight stretch bands around our ankles while we do push-ups.  Great core work, great upper body work.


 Meet Ben, one of “my” basketball boys who went on to play basketball at Brandeis.  Simone is from Camaroon and now plays soccer at Colby-Sawyer.  I love these kids.  And they have such fond memories of my work-outs. See that little girl crying?  That’s why I came home.  And haven’t looked back.  But I still try and do my work-outs.

I still get a lot of questions, which makes me feel important :).  With regards to running, the number one question is, “Can you help me get started?  I don’t know what to do.”

Yes.  I can help you.  


Here is a program I adapted from Runner’s World “Starting Line.”  The only reason it’s adapted is because the rest days are on Sunday and I tweaked some of the run/walk options. 


Would you like to run a 5k (3 miles) this summer but have never run…ever?  This program was created for YOU.

Lazy Lump to 5k Training Program

WEEK

MON

TUES

WED

THURS

FRI

SAT

SUN

1

Run/XT 20 min

Run 10

min Walk 10 min


Walk 20 min

Run

15 min

Walk/XT 20 min

Run/Walk 2 miles

Rest

2

Run 2 miles

Walk/XT 20 min

Walk 20 min or OFF


Run 20 min

Walk/XT 20 min

Walk/XT 25 min

Rest

3

Run 2.5 miles

Run 20 min

Walk 25 min or OFF


Walk/XT 30 min

Run 25 min

Walk/XT 30 min

Rest

4

Run 3 miles on race course if possible


Run 25 min

Walk 30 min or OFF

Walk/XT 30 min

Run 30 min

Walk/XT 30 min

Rest

5

Run 3.5 miles

Run 30 min

Walk/XT 30 min or OFF
Run 30 min

Walk/XT 30 min

5k Race

Rest

Some other suggestions:
1.  Record your work-outs.  We all need accountability.  I use my planner to record what I do on each day.  When I see I’ve gone days being a lazy lump,  I get movin’!  Even better is to record a few notes on eating, sleeping, and overall feelings.  You’ll start to see a pattern and how life affects your exercise and energy.

2.  Rest means rest.  Really.  If you go hiking with the family – great!  But adjust the day before or after so that you have one complete day of Scrabble/Rest.

3.  XT means “Cross-Train.”  So if you want to ride your bike for 20 min, great.  Roller skate, swim, elliptical trainer are all examples of cross-training.  I encourage you to cross-train that so different muscles are being used.

4. When it says to run “2 miles.”  It’s okay if you have to walk a little.  Walk, catch your breath, then run a little more.  Don’t know how long 2 miles is?  Of course I love my Garmin Watch but I didn’t always have it (Mother’s Day gift!).  I used to drive places so I could see my distance.  And sometimes I just had to rely on time.  

5.  Grab the buddy.  There is no substitute for knowing a friend is waiting and counting on you.

In one week it’s the Boston marathon.  I’m ridiculously excited to watch my training buddy break some hearts on Heartbreak Hill.  I’m ridiculously excited to see top American marathoners Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan run.  This is the first time two rivals have had the same coach.  They are rivals, they are best friends.  Who will bring it?  Even the best have a buddy.

6.  Schedule the 5k NOW.  Pay for the race and you’ll be less likely to bail at the last minute.  I am going to run the Black Fly Blitz on Memorial Day. Now, who’s with me???   

You know why this stuff matters to me?  Because running makes me happy and I think it could make you happier, too.  It’s one of the most bonding things I do with my family.  Americans work hard, but we often eat terribly and don’t move enough.  When I see a child who can’t run because they’ve sat most of their lives and it hurts to breathe, hurts to run, hurts to move – it kills me.  Our bodies are such gifts.

When I read the Runner’s World article on the Kara Goucher and Shalane, I was so fired up.  I thought, “If this can motivate me, excite me, make me want to run right this very second – then maybe I can do that for other people.”  I want to do that for you.  Now let’s all sing, we’re all in this together…  

A person who won’t move has no advantage over a person who can’t move.

Questions/need help?  Email me amym (at) proctornet (dot) com or leave a comment.  I’m here for you, baby.

Want more Fit Tips?  Click HERE.
Need Some Runner Fuel?  Click HERE.


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Fit Tip Monday: Be Julie Foudy

Do you remember where you were when the women’s national soccer team won the 1999 World Cup?

I do.

Meet Julie Foudy.
Lindsey and I went to hear Julie speak at Dartmouth last week.  If you haven’t heard of Julie Foudy, well then, I just don’t know who you are!

Julie Foudy is of the Mia Hamm days, of the famed 1999 World Cup which I watched when Cope was a newborn and screaming her colicky head off.  It was Julie and her pals that got me through that summer.  Oh, I was so envious of them!  They were just so great.  Their team chemistry was unmatched.

One cannot speak of the golden age of women’s soccer without mentioning Julie Foudy.  At 16, Julie made the national team.  There was no junior national team.  It was her and Mia Hamm (who was 15), Michelle Akers, and Kristine Lilly, among others.
Julie played on the national team from 1987-2004, and was the captain from 1991-retirement.  She graduated from Stanford and was accepted into the Stanford Medical School which she decided not to pursue.  Now she’s a mother to two and a part-time ESPN sports analyst.  A retired midfielder (tough, a tons-of-running position), she’s an activist for women and children, and a champion of Title IX.  

Title IX sometimes gets a bad rap.  Unfortunately, good intentions sometimes have unintended consequences, like minor sports being eliminated.  

However, get this:  In 1972, 300,000 girls were playing sports in high school
Now?  Over 3,000,000!

Why is Julie a consistent advocate for girls and sports?  So women can go to college and play sports.  That’s how it began, when a married couple both applied to law school in the 70’s and the man got in, despite his wife being the better scholar.  So.  They started Title IX together.

Julie is funny, charming, and smart.  She’s feminine and touches her hair a lot 🙂 

She spoke about all the benefits of sports and why her team was so successful.

These were the choices:
1.  As a team, they chose to work their tail’s off.  Mantra:  We will always outwork everyone.  Mia Hamm did drills in the dark, the headlights of her car lighting the way if she missed a work-out.  Michelle Akers had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and would require IV’s in the locker room during half-time.  She also showed up early and stayed late every.single.practice.  Joy Fawcett had three children during her stint on the national team.  She’d get out of the car during traffic jams and run lines!  Kristine Lilly?  Ran in the Boston snow all winter.  Always, there was a wholesome discontent.  WORK HARDER.

2.  As a team, they chose to celebrate others.  Remember that move the defender made 20 plays back?  That move gave Julie the ball who gave it to Mia who scored.  But remember that defender?  Social media is often geared toward self.  TEAM is not about “me,” it’s about “us.”   CELEBRATE THE WHOLE TEAM.

3.  As a team, they chose to be courageous.  Julie told a great story about a journalist who basically told the team they’d never sell enough tickets to play the world cup in big stadiums.  Go smaller!  With trembling fear they said, Watch and See.  They went knocking door to door to sell tickets.  And they filled the seats.  Find the group who celebrates your dreams.  GO BIG AND BE COURAGEOUS.

4.  As a team, they chose to make a difference.  They decided as a group that yes, they were competitive, yes they were out to win, but “We want to leave the game better than we found it.”  And boy did they.  LEAVE IT BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT.

“Success isn’t a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice.”

And of course, how do you define success?
Julie emphasized, you don’t have to be CEO, captain, popular, or a soccer player.  As long as you are passionate, you can get it done.
There are so many ways to lead.  It’s simply caring enough, not listening to those who say, “Use a smaller stadium.”

The most liberating thing is knowing we have that choice.  Julie had a great coach who was never negative.  Instead, he said, “This is what I need from you.”

How does she do it all?  Julie said pressure and time teach us about management.  Decide what you care about.  She said she cares about being a good mom first, athlete and activist second.  “This is what I care about and this is how I’ll spend my time.”  Forget the rest.  Good advice for us all.
The sky’s the limit, right?

Why?

Why does the sky have to be the limit?

Fit Tip Monday:  Be like Julie Foudy.  She may not be playing for the national team anymore, but…she kind of still is.  

Play and run because you love it, play and run because it matters for those coming after you.
I’m going outside now, to kick the soccer ball with my girls and the boy.  

Snow?  What snow?

p.s.  another amazing woman featured below…there’s still time to win her book! don’t you love women?  i’m feeling the love this week. 
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Monday Fit Tip: Eucerin

This is more of a save-your-face-in-winter tip.  When it’s wicked cold and the winter wind is whipping at your lovely smooth skin, drying it out and aging it 100 years, show your skin some love!  

When I go out for a run I like to put Eucerin on my face, especially around my eyes and nose and lips. Even when I take a shower afterwards, I can still feel the silky protection.

What else works?  Aquaphor.  Vaseline.  But I only use that in the dark before the sun comes up.  Otherwise it attracts the sun like baby oil on a beach front sunbathing fest.

Treat your face like a baby.  That way, when we’re 82, we’ll look 82 and love it 🙂

And Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!  Dr. King; one of my heroes.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” 
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Fit Tip Monday: Find a Way

Sledding with kids:  A great workout! 

January is a hard month.

It’s cold

It’s slippery

It’s cold and slippery at 5 a.m.

It’s hard to run, let alone exchanging warm fleece for cold shorts

My running buddy is in Houston for a marathon

Because she is amazing

I am alone in the lone and dreary world of cold.

Find a way.

On Saturday I wouldn’t let myself out of it.

And it was a really busy kid day with husband gone.

8 a.m. basketball game

9:45 a.m. basketball game

12 p.m. soccer game

2 p.m. birthday party

3:30 p.m. playdate

3:40 p.m. rendevous to swap kids

4 p.m. birthday party pick-up
5 p.m. birthday party

5:30 dinner with husband on campus so children can see daddy as he has on-campus duty Fri-Sun night

8 p.m. birthday party pick-up

9 p.m. please tell me all the children are in bed

Exercise?  Forgetaboutit!

I go through the above scenario to tell you that I know you’re really busy.

But here is is:  Find a way.  My way was dropping Brynne off at her basketball game a half hour early for warm-ups while I scooted across the street with Paige and got in a half hour of cardio and 3 weight machines.  Paige had her library bag and was asked to very sweetly sit and read while mama got in her fix.

When I got to the gym?  The treadmills were in use.  Drat!  Find a way.  So I got on the elliptical trainer for 15 minutes until the treadmill was free (could she feel my angst?) and ran on the treadmill for 15 minutes.  That’s it, that’s all the time I had unless I wanted to miss all of Brynne’s game, which was not an acceptable alternative. 

I also surmised that I was a little bit happy I only had half an hour and not all day to exercise since I hate the treadmill so dreadfully, which got me thinking that most of our (and I’m talking about me) excuses are because deep down we just don’t want to do something.  

We find time for the things that are important to us. 

Then I sped back to the elementary school with Paige in tow to watch my Brynne play her game.  Who, by the way was mad at me for missing the first quarter.  You know what?  I explained that mama really needed a little bit of exercise, but I came back to watch my girl and gave her a hug.  She nodded.  I also fed her ice-cream for lunch and there – I’m forgiven.

At the game I was in work-out clothes with a hat shoved on my head, probably looked gross and sweaty and you know what?  Tough.

My sister-in-law swaps childcare with her neighbor so she can take turns working out,

Another sister-in-law joined a gym that had childcare even though it was more expensive.

That’s my advice for the week.   Find a way.

And if sledding with kids is the only way to get a work out in?  I suggest suiting up and enjoying the ride! (and the multiple hikes up the hill.)


xoxo.

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Ride Your Bike to Work Day

Friday is the day!  Paige is here to inspire you.  This is how she rides to work.
Helmet?  Basket for treasures?

Tires pumped?  Don’t forget the skirt and pink shoes!

And we are off!

A truck coming down the road is the perfect opportunity to pull over and pose for the camera.  You might want to try this yourself.  Maybe at a red light or stop sign.

This is Paige’s highlight of the day:  When Brynne gets home from school.  Brynne is carrying her fish after show ‘n tell.  What a big hit.  Kids kept asking where she got the fish.  I’m sure their parents love me now.
Last week the whole elementary school was invited to bike to school.  I ran behind a little kindergartener the entire five miles down the rail trail. He kept looking up at me, “Can I stop now?”
Don’t forget to ride!  It’s good for your heart in more ways than one.  Feel like a kid again, flying free.

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