Metabolism and calories – What's the connection (and do I need to worry about it)? Find out here.

What is Metabolism?

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You already know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But, what exactly does this all mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It's how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry YOU would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

●      Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).

●      Allow activities you can't control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).

●      Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together - enter metabolism - you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”. 

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those pesky calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

●      Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).

●      Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).

●      Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work, or creating heat, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate.  One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you're not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.  This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is, the faster things will work and the more calories you'll burn.

But that's not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too! 

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial! 

As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have, the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.  Even when you're not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you. 

The thing is, when people lose weight, their metabolic rate often slows down... which you don't want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they're doing “work”.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently. 

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off. Yahtzee! 

And don't forget the mind-body connection.  There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

And... all that talk about metabolism has me a little hungry! Enjoy this metabolism-boosting, easy recipe tonight! 

**Lean Protein** 

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts:

Serves 4

2 lemons, sliced

1 tablespoon rosemary

1 tablespoon thyme

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

dash salt & pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old

Preheat oven to 425F.  Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper.  Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).

Serve & enjoy!

Coach's Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

Running and Fasting... a 21 Day Journey to Spirituality and ... hunger!

I'm hungry Yo!

Like seriously, I'm hungry. As I type this out, my stomach is growling in protest. And, it's only a little after 5 o'clock...in the morning! Thank you LORD for coffee! It's my only saving grace!

When Pastor David (Pastor David Stine, Lead Pastor, Metro Church) mentioned we were doing a 21 Day Fast as a church, I must admit, I was a little excited. Both for the spiritual journey it might offer, as well as the nutrition protocol experience.

Being a nutrition coach, I love testing various, different nutrition protocols. I have faith in my standard tried and true method of eating mostly whole, fresh, minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and/or beans and legumes and that's always where I start for beginners. Everything else is irrelevant until we get the basics down. But, there are times, when a little extra "push" is needed. When a client has the basics down and is still not seeing the results they want. That's when I reach for a non-standard protocol. And, intermittent fasting is one such protocol I keep in my arsenal. But we will chat about that in a bit. First, let me start with the spiritual journey. 

I have known about God for most of my life.

But, I certainly didn't "know" God. My background centered around my parents making me go to Sunday School and Church service when I was younger (though they didn't attend with me). That was about it. As a family, we didn't practice regular bible readings, prayers at mealtimes or take part in any religious discussions around the dinner table. 

Throughout my early adult life I wasn't involved in church and I didn't actively practice any religion. I was pretty much indifferent to it all. Agnostic. I assumed the things that happened in life were simply due to circumstances, luck, hard work (or lack thereof) and coincidence. My belief stayed that way until my late 30's, when I met my husband, Ken. 

Ken slowly started to share with me how he thought God was active in my life. He introduced me to "mini" prayers at meal times and to Joel Osteen. Although I was still a skeptic at large, I listened. I noticed. I observed. I became aware that things started to turn in my favor when Ken told me he prayed about our circumstances: Zara (my now 4 year old) was accepted into the daycare near my work right as my maternity leave was ending (though she was on a long waiting list). My early retirement from the Air Force was approved - this would allow us to live together as a family instead of Ken living in DC and me living near St. Louis MO (though it was clearly an exception to policy that people told me would never be approved). My house sold within weeks of being put on the market (though it wasn't a seller's market and many other houses in my neighborhood had been on the market for months and they were not selling). Ken received a promotion at work (though a few months earlier, there didn't seem to be any position open to promote to).

Could all these things merely be coincidence?

Then, one Sunday morning, out of the blue, Ken asked me "Do you want to go to church today?" I laughed and said "Where?" He mentioned that someone he was in school with (he and I are both currently working toward our second graduate degree in Leadership and Management) had told him about the church she attended and invited us to attend as well. It was this "new" type of church. Non denominational. Loud music. And, there was even a Starbucks on site. What?! Starbucks. That's all you had to say. "Sure. Let's go." I replied. And, I guess you could say, the rest is history. We loved the church, the environment, the atmosphere, and the children's ministry. We've never felt so welcomed and at home in any other church. And, after attending for about 6 months, we became members. 

But... I digress... back to the 21 Day Fast.

The church-wide, 21-Day Fast began Sunday, January 15th. Paster David's intent for this fast was simple: When we fast and pray at the beginning of the year, we release the principle found in Matthew 6:33:

"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.''

He encouraged the church to set the course for 2017 by devoting the first few days of the year to prayer and hearing from God! And, not only that... it got better! He also announced that his newest book "Hearing from GOD: 5 Steps to Knowing His Will for Your Life" would be released at the same time. This book included a 40 day challenge for how we, as followers, can position ourselves to hear from God!

This was for ME! Exactly for me!

I had struggled in this area of my faith. I desperately wanted to know God's purpose for me, but I struggled to hear His voice. How could all this be coming at a time when I so desperately needed it? Coincidence? Nah... 

coffee.jpg

And, so it began. My husband and I started our 21 Day Fast on Monday, January 16th. And, we decided to fast breakfast. The idea is to give up something and replace that something with prayer and scripture. So, by giving up breakfast, I afforded myself an hour to prayer and scripture in the early AM. About that only time in my life when I get peace and quiet... and, coffee! Yes! Coffee! Since we get up bright and early at 3:50AM (yes, you read that right!), we break our fast at around 11:00. Sometimes 11:30, sometimes 12:00.

And, now, we enter day 10!

And, honestly, it hasn't been that bad. Of course, I'm hungry, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my prayer and scripture time. And, more importantly, I have heard from God. He's directed me in so many important aspects of my life. From the direction of my coaching business, to a particular book on my bookshelf that needed a revisit to having people speak directly to me and reaffirm that I am on doing His will. I've asked a question or struggled with a problem early in the morning, only to find the answer given to me via a passage in a book I felt called to pick up later that night.

I encourage you, if you are struggling to hear from God, check out this book. Block off some quiet time and listen for His guidance. 

So... on to the running part. How does fasting affect my running? 

Well, as it turns out, I am smack in the middle of half-marathon training for a race that I have pretty high goals for. And, yes, more than once I have laced up my sneakers with a belly that begged for nourishment. Although I normally do train fasted (i.e. I don't eat prior to running...), I guess the deficit of calories is catching up to me. I wake up really hungry and run hungry. However, besides being hungry, only twice has fasting had an impact on my running. And, it turns out, it was totally my fault. I had let my carb intake drop too low. So, once I adjusted that, I was back on track. And, hey, I've even lost a couple of pounds, though I totally wasn't trying to. 

What does my running schedule look like during this fasting period? 

Monday - Legs and Core

Tuesday - 1 x 60 minutes at 7:52 pace; finish with 6 x 20 second strides

Wednesday - Legs and Core

Thursday - Easy Run - 7 miles at 8:44

Friday - 2 Mile warm up; 7 x 3:00 @ 6:41 pace with 2:00 recovery between; 1.5 mile cool down

Saturday - Easy Run - 6 miles @ 8:44

Sunday - Long Run - 1 x 11 miles @ 8:44 pace; finish with 6 x 20 second strides 

As you can see, I am logging some more intense workouts. And, again, other than an oversight on my carb intake for a couple of days, I haven't had any problems maintaining speed or endurance. Side note: I don't add Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) to my diet during my fast. 

As with anything, your mileage may vary.

My biggest piece of advice: Monitor your macro intake. Since you are cutting out an entire meal, and maybe even a snack, you might notice a decline in endurance and energy levels if you don't make up for those calories. 

Will fasting for breakfast guarantee weight loss?

No. As always, that's more of a scientific equation. Calories in must always be less than calories out to lose weight. Is it used to reduce body fat in certain nutrition protocols. Yes, but that is something that requires some pretty specific tweaking and personalization. 

If you are looking for a spiritual journey to push you past your normal limits, this is one I recommend! 

In fact, I like the extra time and mental clarity that I have in the morning so much, I am going to extend my breakfast fast to 40 days (although I will break fast early on my half-marathon race day - 18 February). 

Share with me, how do you connect with God or the Universe? What spiritual journey are you on? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

Happy Trails! 

Val

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret to Staying Young...

Eat slowly?

Where’s the super secret nutrition tip that will magically burn fat and turn back the hands of time? This is too easy!

WAIT... before you go... hear me out on this one! 

My entire adult life (until I became aware and made this change) I've scarfed down my food. Like seriously! I ate embarrassingly fast. The hungrier I was, the faster I ate. 

How I adopted this unattractive habit I'm unsure; but, I'm most confident it was during my time in basic training. I remember being yelled at over and over: "eat faster Eaton"! By the time my training was over, I was a pro. I could shove down an entire plate of food in less than five minutes. When my mother picked me up from basic training, we stopped at a fast food restaurant on the way home from the airport. I distinctly remember her staring at me, most likely in disgust, as I passionately crammed food into my mouth.

From that point on, food was always something that I did quickly, usually while multi-tasking. Eating breakfast in the car on the way to work. Eating lunch at my desk while answering email. Eating dinner in front of the T.V. 

It wasn't until I really dove into nutrition coaching that I fully understood the importance of slowing down, enjoying my food and being aware and in the moment. 

Why slow eating? 

Slow eating does some important things:

Slow eating creates mindfulness. Mindfulness creates awareness.

Many people eat poorly simply because they’re unaware — of how to eat well, of what poor (or good) eating feels like, of how their body responds to different food choices.

Most of my clients who want to eat less (in order to lose fat) almost always rely on external measures such as calorie counting, “points,” or eating strict portions. Of course, these usually fail in the long run.

Been there, done that, right?!

But, when I challenge my clients to adopt the habit of slow eating and listening to and acknowledging body cues, they become aware of when they’ve over-eaten. No points to track, no calories to count.

Slow eating attunes you to flavors, textures, and smells of food.

You become more aware of holistic food quality. Junk food tastes like crap when you eat it slowly. It’s disappointing — even downright disgusting. And, your body doesn't recognize it... nor, know what to do with it once it enters our digestion system. Real food, on the other hand, often tastes even better, sweeter. 

Slowly, what begins to happen intuitively is that WE seek out better choices, simply because of increased awareness.

Slow eating also sends important information to the GI tract and gives satiety hormones time to kick in. Smelling, chewing, tasting and swallowing gives essential data to the whole gastrointestinal system. For instance, the smell that wafts up into our nasal passages via the back of our throat when we chew is a key component of satiety.

If we rush, we don’t smell, taste, or texturally experience our food. In a sense, our bodies don’t notice stuff getting shoved into the pipeline until it’s too late. Have you ever scarfed down a meal and not felt satisfied... simply left reaching for more food to reach satiation? Now you know why! When we eat slowly, our satiety hormones have time to work. You stop eating naturally, earlier.

Slow eating helps with digestion. 

The step-by-step information processing also helps with cueing digestive activity. Our GI tract doesn’t get caught off guard. So you feel better after you eat. (No Tums needed... you're welcome!)

The #1 Success Key for me: Slow eating doesn’t depend on controlling what you eat.

This means you can do it anywhere, any time, with any kind of food — whether that’s a Mother’s Day brunch, a business lunch, dinner at Grandma’s, a Vegas buffet, or S’Mores around a campfire. No matter what’s on your plate or who’s around you, you can eat slowly.

This is key is developing lifelong solutions that WORK for you. So that you can “keep it real” and not feel restricted or deprived, while still making mindful choices. In effect, slow eating makes YOUR body the boss.

This means eventually YOU won’t have to rely on calorie counting, weighing and measuring food, or any other means of external control. You’ll feel much less anxious, and much more self-assured whenever you are around food. 

Just be aware… you may notice things like:

*You don’t love your favorite junk foods as much as you did. (Be prepared for some grief and loss.)

*You are rushing and stressed much of the time. (Be prepared to discuss this in a later lesson.)

*It’s hard to be alone and quiet with yourself. (hint... this is why we are always glued to social media!)

So... how do you get started? Check out these tips! 

• Put your fork down between bites.
• Relax. 
• Breathe. 
• Take a few extra moments before you pick the fork up again.
• Set a timer if needed — start with 15 minutes per meal as a basic goal. Work up to 20 or even (gasp) 30.
• Chew a few more times than you think you need to.
• Enjoy and savor each bite. 
• If you’re eating something delicious, take pleasure in it. Notice smells, flavors, and textures.
• Eat mindfully without distractions such as TV, smartphones, or the computer. (Pleasant conversation with friends and family is, of course, welcome.)

So, let's hear it! Comment below with how long it takes you to consume your evening meal... or, breakfast meal (hopefully you aren't consuming this meal in the car, on your way to work...)

Happy Trails! 
Val

 

 

I run for Wine! The Road to Temecula

I love wine! I do. Almost as much as running.

And, luckily, my running allows me to partake in the drinking of the wine! #winningatlife

Being a wine lover, I often find races centered around vineyards. One of my favorite series to run is the Diva series. This year, I am taking an adventure out to San Diego to run DIVA Temecula. Located in the beautiful wine country, about an hour outside of San Diego.

This race comes at a point in my life where running was becoming boring for me. Not fun. It was hard for me to motivate myself past 30 minutes on the treadmill. I felt sluggish running. I had lost my running mojo. I had started to think maybe I was getting too old. Maybe I needed a new sport. Maybe I had seen my best days as a runner.  Being stuck in a place of discontentment, I did what many people do... I searched for a new training plan. Something different. Something that I had not tried or done before. Something that would motivate me, help me get refocused. 

I stumbled across Heart Rate Training. 

This was a totally new world for me. I measured my workouts based on minutes, not miles. On heart rate, not pace. And, I was encouraged to run really, really slow miles.

Like seriously, slow miles

It was uncomfortable, at best. I was logging a LOT of minutes on the treadmill, but I wasn't seeing any great results. The voice inside my head (perhaps my EGO) kept telling me... this shit is crazy. You are not making any progress. Go back to training the way you know works--speed work, tempo runs, hard effort. Training the way that got you into the Boston Marathon. 

But, I stayed the course. Thinking I hadn't quite given it enough time. Maybe it was too early to see results. Maybe the PR that I was looking to earn was just on the other side of next week's training. 

And, then, it happened. I put the training to the test. I ran two half-marathons, a couple of weeks apart. Half-marathons that I had trained for. I had put a lot of time into. And, I ended up with times that were 11 minutes OVER my PR of 1:35. At that point, I realized my ego was right. Slow runs will not make you a fast runner. 

There was only one thing left to do. Take matters into my own hands. 

Refocus and create my own half marathon training plan, using the runs and techniques that I know will net me the results I want.  

So, here we are! This is Week 7 of my training plan and I am feeling GREAT! The quick turnover is back in my legs, my body is getting lean again and I feel invincible (of course, a bi-weekly trip to the chiropractor doesn't hurt!!). I did a "test" run on New Year's Eve (Ringing in the Hope in Ashburn, VA) and my training plan was validated! Though a 10K has never been my best race, I finished with a 7:09 overall pace and a negative split. My final mile was 6:53! Can you SAY YES?!

I had been vindicated!

So, how did I get there?

Here are my SECRETS to SUCCESS in building out my training plans. These are the runs you MUST have:

Threshold (or tempo) Run: This is my favorite run. Threshold or tempo runs are comfortably hard runs of about 3-4 miles each (longer for longer distance events) or 5-15 minutes each, with 1 to 3 minutes of rest between the runs. Intensity should be about 86 - 88% of max effort. 

Long Run: Long runs serve one purpose: they give you the strength you need to race fast. To that I say Giddy Up! 

Speed Work...aka... Intervals, Fartleks, Reps: Typically, HARD running. A pace that you can only maintain for about 10-15 minutes in a serious race. Most effective if they involve runs of 3 to 5 minutes each (think... 800 or 1600s) with jog recoveries of similar duration. 

Easy Run: Easy running can have a fair range of intensities from about 60 to 75% of maximum. This is a comfortable, conversational pace...and, can vary daily depending on how you feel! Don't be alarmed if you are up to 20 seconds slower or faster than the specified pace on a given day! 

What does a week of my training look like? 

Here is a sampling: 

Monday: Rest Day (I work legs/glutes)

Tuesday: 2 mile warmup--> Tempo run--> 3 miles @ 7:26 pace--> 3 minute recover--> 2 Miles @ 7:26 pace--> 1 mile cool-down

Wednesday: Rest Day (I work legs/glutes)

Thursday: Easy Run--> 7 miles @ 8:55

Friday: Intervals--> 2 Mile warmup--> 7 x 3:00 intervals @ 6:50 pace--> 2:00 minute recovery between--> 2 mile cool down

Saturday: Easy Run--> 6 Miles @ 8:55 pace

Sunday: Long Run Plus--> 10 Miles at 8:55 pace--> Finish with 6 x 20 second strides

That's it folks. Those are the runs that will net you the time you want.

The bad news: running hard is... HARD! So, I can see why HRT sounds so joyful to so many. 

The good news: It works! If you put in the time, put in the effort, you WILL get the results! 

I am ready for a Post 40 PR! Are you? Comment below with your goal race date and wish list PR! 

Happy Trails! 

Feet don't fail me now! 

Val

 

 

 

 

Be Nutrition Agnostic

Yes, this is food that I actually EAT! 

Yes, this is food that I actually EAT! 

I love food. I mean, really. I do.

I love the taste, the texture, the aroma. The thought of trying a new dish personally crafted by my husband, ordering an old favorite at a place we frequent, or perusing the menu at a fancy restaurant makes my mouth water in great anticipation of the first bite! Truly, eating brings me great excitement. 

So, to be anything other than nutrition agnostic just doesn't fit into my lifestyle! 

When people come to me looking for solutions to their nutrition, they are secretly hoping I will give them a list of "bad" foods. Foods that are NOT to be consumed. Foods that must be avoided at all costs. Sometimes it's red meat, sometimes carbs, sometimes it's gluten, sometimes it's fat. But, regardless of what's ailing them, they are certain the first step that must be taken is restriction, hunger and deprivation. Right? Isn't that what the mainstream media outlets want us to believe?! 

And, then I drop the bombshell: I DON'T focus on food rules, I focus on a client's needs. 

"WHAT?! My needs? What does that have to do with anything?! I just want results!" 

But, here is the problem when we start restricting foods. People focus on the badness of a particular nutrient, rather than on eating high-quality, delicious food mindfully. 

For instance, during the low-fat craze, Americans didn't get healthier, we actually got fatter... how can that be? 

People ended up eating a lot more processed foods. People often felt less satisfied with their meals (because fat releases satiety hormones) and ended up eating more overall. People ate more processed foods and sugars and salt to make up for the missing fat... not to mention an extra dose of chemicals. 

People focused on the nutrient itself, instead of considering their whole diet in a broader context.

The same goes for carbohydrates.

Contrary to the latest fad diets... there is no "correct" amount of carbohydrates that is the same for everyone, all the time.

These factors all play a big role: 

  • how big or small someone is
  • how much lean mass or body fat they have
  • how active they are
  • how intense, long lasting and/or frequent that activity is
  • how old they are
  • intake levels of other macronutrients
  • genetics
  • what foods they like, tolerate and prefer to eat
  • what their overall goals are

Just like fat, carbs often get the brunt of the blame for the obesity epidemic in America. And, while it's true that simple, refined and highly processed carbs have little room in our diet, complex carbs are vital nutrients. 

Complex carbs that come from whole food sources like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains tend to keep us feeling full longer. They also travel with passengers: micronutrients, phytonutrients, fiber and water -- perhaps even some protein and healthy fats. They keep our blood sugar and insulin levels stable, releasing their energy gradually. 

Simple, refined and highly processed carbs digest quickly but tend to leave us unsatisfied. They've been stripped of nutrients. Their passengers are often high amounts of sodium along with industrial chemicals such as flavorings, trans fat or preservatives. They stimulate our appetite and leave us wanting more. They can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar and insulin levels. 

Before I start restricting foods, removing foods or giving any nutrition protocols my #1 question/research project is this:

Are you eating the right foods, in the right amounts, for the right reasons? 

Everything else is secondary. 

Before scrutinizing your carbs, proteins or eliminating anything (besides those yucky highly processed, chemically altered, made in a laboratory foods) use this as a checklist: 

  1. How much food are you eating each day? 
    • Are you stuffed or are you satisfied?  
  2. How are you eating each day? 
    • Are you slowing down to taste and enjoy your food mindfully? 
  3. Why are you eating each day?
    • Are you eating when you're truly physically hungry? 
  4. What are you eating each day?
    • Are you eating mostly whole, fresh minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and/or beans and legumes? 

Are you doing #1 and #4 consistently?

Until you get these basics down, the other, more complex "stuff" really doesn't matter.

Remember, diets don't work. Not for the long-term anyway. For results that last, you must be focused on the 4 key items listed above. This is TRULY the way to dieting freedom for life!

Commit to saying NO to diets in 2017!!

Fuel your body, don't food your body!

Happy Trails!

Val

 

 

Running is my Romeo

People often ask me: "WHY - or better - HOW can you get up at 0430 in the morning to run?!" "Are you crazy?" 

And, the answer to that question is probably ... YES! I am a little crazy! But, what I have found over the years is that if I didn't run, I'd be a HELLUVA lot crazier! 

Running has been a constant in my life since I was 20 years old.

It's helped me weather a stressful military career, divorce, child bearing, postpartum depression, a binge-eating habit and HELLOOO... the restlessness of seeing, and saying goodbye to, the big 4-0!

It's the one thing, above all others, that has taught me patience, persistence, dedication, commitment, diligence, self-control, personal efficacy and sacrifice. It's taught me to push past the point of failure. To do more than I thought I could do. To dig deeper. To stop feeling sorry for myself, get off my ASS and get moving. To go one more mile, one more step. It's taught me that the ONLY person who can do this for me is ME.

It's given me hope, faith, self-confidence, a sense of humor, compassion, and a drive so strong Hercules himself can't stop me. 

It has also given me disappointment...

Sprained ankles and scraped up body parts mixed with equal parts of tears, self-loathing and self-pity. It's brought me to my knees when I trained so hard only to see my goals not met. I've hated it, cursed it. Swore it off. Only to come running (pun intended?) back to it the next day, like a true love affair. Running is my Romeo! 

But, back to the CRAZY part. 

When I mention all the things that running has done for me, I can simplify it by saying running has made me resilient. After all, isn't resilience an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity? In other words: Get up. Brush off. Try again. Allow yourself to be disappointed, we deserve that. But, move on. Not only in running, but in life. 

When life hands you that blow. When someone gets a promotion you thought you deserved. When your child won't sleep through the night. When you receive an unexpected diagnosis from the doctor. When you get lemons, not lemonade. My advice: GO RUN! 

Don’t make it a one-night-stand

Don’t just make running a New Year's Resolution. Tap into the benefits it can offer you in your current life. Take time to think about how running helps, or can help, your resilience in the other parts of your life. Does it give you time to reflect? Be mindful of the things around you? Decompress physical stress? Take stock of your day?

Don't see it as just another task that must be marked off your list. See it as something you simply can't live without! It's a necessity, not a luxury. 

Start a love affair with it.

Date it. Seek it out. Be curious about it. Do it somewhere new. Try new positions with it. Fall in love with it. Take selfies with it. Buy new clothes to meet it in. Give it time, attention. Tell it your dreams. Share with it your frustrations. Make it feel important. If you do, I promise, it will give your more than you ever thought possible. 

And, on that note, my lover is calling me. Until next time...

Feet Don't Fail Me now! 

Wishing your happy thoughts and fast feet, 

Val