Chia Seeds are Awesome!

This morning, one of my awesome Ginger Fit & Healthy Facebook fans, asked me about the benefits of Chia Seeds If she is curious, I know others are, too!  So, check out the info and comment below with questions OR if you’re already including chia seeds in your diet, share how you use them.  Have a fit & fun day!  ❤ Jen the Ginger

Why you should add chia seeds to your diet!

Why you should add chia seeds to your diet!

Putting Pain on the Back Burner

if you change the way you look at things the things you look at change

I’m a member of the Ultra Listserv, an email community of ultra runners and those interested in ultra running who come from all over the world, all levels, stripes, weights, speeds, etc.  Since joining the list back in 2007, I’ve learned a lot from the posts and plan to continue learning as time goes on.  The conversations on the UltraList run the gamut (pun intended 🙂 covering everything from nutrition, to particular race courses, studies on endurance sports, training plans, and more.  Recently, there was a conversation on pain tolerance which I found very interesting.  One UltraLister, Gary Cantrell (AKA Lazarus Lake), who happens to be the race director of the infamous Barkley Marathons, had the following to say:

nobody really “tolerates” pain.

“pain” is nothing more than brain data,
and you have to learn to treat it as such.

think of discomfort as something like your car’s “check engine soon” light.
is it thirst? drink.
if it is hunger; eat.
if it is blisters, consider the situation.
if you are near the end, just run on them to shut them up.
if there is a lot of time left, do some foot repair and get the situation under control.
if it is foot pain; maybe try a change of shoes,
or for joint and muscle issues; try to correct your form and reduce the stress.

whatever the discomfort; do what you can,
then put it away in a compartment and don’t think about it.

you wouldn’t stare at your “check engine soon” light for 8 or 10 hours straight.
well, you don’t need to focus on discomfort continuously either.

relegate it to background noise, and go on.

no one is a bigger sissy about pain than me,
but even i was able to learn how to deal with discomfort during ultras.
don’t listen to someone’s overblown depictions of agony,
they amount to little more than adolescent boasting.
i have had the good fortune (bad fortune at the time)
to experience genuine pain a time or two.
trust me, no one would “tolerate” that.


and the key is not to tolerate it,
but to put it on the back burner.
if you can’t remedy it, ignore it.

This really made sense to me.  In all endurance sports there is a level of pain that comes along with it.  All runners know the feeling of burning quads or glutes during and after a long or intense workout.  People handle all the aches and pains that come along with running ultras in different ways, but from personal experience, and reading, I agree with Laz that in most instances, you have to ignore it.

Of course there are exceptions to this “if you can’t remedy it, ignore it” rule.  You have to know your body and know if the pain you’re experiencing is from injury or internal issues that require medical attention.  While those instances of needing medical attention or approaching serious injury do happen, it is most often the case that the body hurts because we’re pushing our limits.   So, if you know you are going to experience pain, how do you prep for it? Can you?

I believe you can.

I think I experienced the highest level of pain I ever have during the Ghost Train Rail Trail (GTRT) 100 last October, but I’m not sure.  How can that be?  I put myself in a place where I did not have room for pain. GTRT was my first 100 attempt, and I was hell-bent on finishing and giving it my all.  I really wanted to finish in under 24 hours.  And, in order to do so, there were many things I had to focus on – nutrition – was I eating and drinking enough; pace – was I going too fast or too slow; maintaining a positive attitude;  not losing my footing in the dark and with tired legs; taking care of my feet – did I need to change socks/shoes/apply more bodyglide to feet; did I want to change into long sleeves/shortsleeves; making sure I knew what I needed when I hit the aid stations.  I had a mental checklist.  When I completed the checklist, I started it all over again.

The checklist allowed me to realize discomforts and make a plan for attending to them.  I couldn’t do anything about it at that moment,  I put it on the back burner focusing on what was in my control.  I did my best to keep it there until I could do something to remedy it. 

My awesome Ghost Train Rail Trail crew and pacers!  Love them and wouldn't have been able to do it without them.

My awesome Ghost Train Rail Trail crew and pacers! Love them and wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.

Near the end, of GTRT I knew I was in pain because my breathing was loud.  I was “breathing through the pain”, as they say.  Still, I wasn’t focused on it.  Instead, at this point in the race I always had an amazing pacer with me who would talk and keep my mind focused.  If at anytime I began to really feel the pain despite their efforts, I just recited my simple, yet effective mantra which I have with me and ready to whip out during tough points in any race.

This is my race and I am strong. 

That’s it.  As long as I didn’t keep looking at the proverbial “check engine” light and focused on the important things that would get me to the finish line safely and as quickly as possible, the pain wasn’t a big part of the experience.  I finished in 23:03:00 which was good enough for a 4th overall and 1st place female finish.  So, my method worked for me.

I guess that’s why, as soon as it was over, I was scouting out another hundred.  I don’t know how many hundreds I’ll attempt.  I figure, I’ll keep running long and focusing on the important things during the race as long as it’s fun.  I have a feeling that will be for quite some time to come.

How do you conquer pain in tough workouts, training runs, or endurance events?  Do you “compartmentalize” it? Do you use a mantra?  Please share in the comments below.

till we meet on the trails,

jen

PS – Two books that touch on this subject are  Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and Matt Fitzgerald’s Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel. I highly recommend both.

Skiing scares the bejesus out of me…

Skiing scares the bejesus out of me...

And that’s why I did it.

I didn’t grow up skiing. Growing up in Northwestern Kentucky, you may learn to ride four wheeler, deer hunt, and water ski (didn’t learn to do that kind of skiing either) long before even the idea of snow skiing arrives. Not that there weren’t any places to go. I guess folks went to Gatlinburg, and some families flew to Colorado during Christmas break, but we couldn’t afford family vacations like that. So, like most Kentuckians, snow skiing was just something that looked cool, but not really on the radar due to lack of accessibility.

Then, when I was 13 or 14 and given the opportunity to go night skiing with my youth group at a place about 6 hours north. It was a tiny ski mountain (using the word ‘mountain’ loosely here) called Paoli Peaks. I was super excited. I can recall the feelings of fear and fearlessness battling it out as I stared down the slopes, each one a bit bigger than the last. I also remember how fantastic it was to shove the fear aside and zig and zag down one of their “black” slopes (which is totally a green slope) and make it to the bottom still standing. Over the course of about four years, I ended up going there with my youth group one or two more times. And that was the extent of my skiing experience.

Last February, Ken and I went to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. It was a lot different than Paoli! With the guidance of our friend, Jamie, I was able to get better and better with each run. Jamie is a great skier, teacher, and very patient. He stayed with me, helped me up, and gave me pointers when I needed them. So, all-in-all last year’s skiing trip was a success and a lot of fun (Even busting my butt getting off the ski lift was fun in retrospect :).

With that ski trip in the books, I wasn’t all that scared about hitting the slopes in Stowe, Vermont this past Monday. While I was confident I would remember enough to get down the slopes safely, I didn’t realize exactly what I had gotten myself into until the only way off the mountain was down on my own to skis. As I looked down, at what appeared to be the slope without end, I could feel every muscle in my body tighten up and my heart pounding in chest. This was it – fear and fearlessness battling it out again. I took a deep breath, and began the journey downward, all the while talking to myself.

“Nice and easy, Jen. Just relax.”, became my mantra for the day. I progressed from just skiing greens on the first run (which seemed to go on forever), to greens and blues, and then, to all blues. I couldn’t believe I was skiing and not crashing regularly! I was still scared each time I looked down those steep slopes. I could regularly see and feel icy spots where the 30+mph windgusts had blown away the few inches of fresh snow. I often wobbled a bit, which would be followed by my cutting up the slope hard to slow down, or even come to a complete stop to regain my sense of control. My heart still pounded, and I was still scared. But, I took in the beauty, and really tried to experience the mountain. My fear was real, but I kept at it because, I don’t bow to my fears, that’s just not me. I conquer them.

At the end of about 4 hours of skiing, I had fallen an average of once per hour, which I thought was good. I also, conquered my fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it, I’d get hurt, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Ken. None of that was true. Now, I’m hoping for some more good snow and a free day to hit the slopes again because there are many more slopes and fear for me to slay.
****
I am stronger and braver than I think. And you are, too. Each time you conquer a fear, and do something that scares you, you’ll be bit more confident, hold your head higher, and be more ready to take on the next challenge.
Do something today that scares you!

What scares you? What fears have you conquered?

In ~103 Days the Journey Begins

In about 103 days Ken and I will begin our journey to San Antonio, Texas! That’s right, we are departing from the grand Northeast for the big ol’ state of Texas. We are excited about all that awaits us but are definitely going to miss a lot of folks here (I’m especially going to miss all of my Trail Animals Running Club peeps). On our way to TX we are will be making a pit stop in Virginia. We will get to see some good friends who live there (and relax in their hot tub if we’re lucky!) but that’s not the only reason we will be stopping. We will be stopping for a few days so I can run the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 ultra marathon. This will be my second 100 mile race and I’m excited and nervous and I really, really want to kick ass!

Hoping to earn one of these guys in just 103 days at the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100

Hoping to earn one of these guys in just 103 days at the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100

Serious training for the race started last week. In the coming weeks, training is going to be tough: 4-5 days a week of hard training on the bike (long rides and intervals) along with stair workouts, a bit of elliptical, lots of circuit workouts and strength training, Bikram yoga, incline power walking on the treadmill + 1-2 days a week of long, hilly runs + active rest, heat/icing, foam rolling and stretching.  I also have to reign in my nutrition a bit and get my weight down a few pounds because I don’t want to be carrying extra weight for 100+ miles of crazy elevation change.  So, I will probably be using MyFitnessPal again to log all of my food.  I don’t enjoy doing this, but it’s just too easy for me to eat all day since I work from home.  Logging it helps me stay aware of my food intake and reminds me to slow down and consider if I truly am hungry.  Usually I’m not, so I will just sip on some water or hot tea instead.

Here,s the elevation profile. I definitely have my work cut out for me.

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I hope to do better than I have in the past updating my blog with info on my training and also my health coaching practice and my move from working in social media to the health and wellness sector. Exciting times, these are!!!

Small Steps to a Healthier You

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While at the grocery, you should spend 75% of your time in the perimeters of the store and the bulk of that time in the produce aisle. Image Credit: marycrimmins.com

For most people, leading a healthy life doesn’t start at the gym; it starts at the grocery store.  Making the decision to eat more real foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs quality meats and fish) and fewer processed, chemical-filled items that merely act like food (they lack nutrients and instead fill you up with calories and stuff that leads to inflammation, high-blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) is what changes lives.  When a person begins eating a diet full of veggies, fruits, lean meats, healthy fats, fish, etc, their bodies will begin changing and they’ll have a lot more energy and self-confidence to not only get more exercise, but to try new things and live life to the fullest.  

So, my challenge to you is the next time you visit the grocery store, buy one real food and mark a processed food you normally buy off your list.   

One small step at a time, we can lead healthier lives!  

 

1 Week Down: What I Miss Isn’t as Awesome as What I’m Gaining!

I made it through the first week of my Beach Ready 30 Day Challenge.  It was tough.  The week has been full of lots of events that in the past would have led me into the kitchen looking for a distraction in the way of food or a drink (the major event being the anniversary of my mom’s death).  Well, guess what?  The past and the present aren’t all that different.  I still journeyed into the kitchen seeking comfort, only this time I found it by recognizing that I had made a commitment to my body and realized that even if I wasn’t in complete control of the events and situations I was confronting, I was in control of the foods I chose to eat.  So, sometimes I caved but a girls gotta eat, right?

I miss almond butter the most, I don’t miss how it makes me feel.  Plus, it’s a “trigger food”. I can’t have just one spoonful, I must have 10 or more before I put it down. It’s what I moved to when I gave up Nutella.

I had some serious cravings (especially yesterday) but I was smart in how I handled them.  When I really wanted something sweet, I sliced up an apple and doused it with cinnamon (surprisingly delicious and awesome in its simplicity).  When I craved something salty, I sliced a cucumber and sprinkled it with sea salt.  Each of these healthy choices did the trick in curtailing my craving without throwing my daily nutrition plan under the bus.

By making these choices, I learned that I’m a lot stronger than I thought and that’s a great feeling!  Logging everything I eat and drink on MyFitnessPal has helped a lot.  I truly consider what I am eating and if it’s worth the calories and how I’ll feel (like, if I eat too much fruit or drink too much coffee, I crash hard) and I have been taking a lot of joy in cooking awesome meals that are truly healthy.

I mentioned a lot about food, and you can find what I have been eating here.  When you see a crazy assortment of fruits and veggies at breakfast, it means I made a “green smoothie” or a salad.  When you see how many cups of coffee I have (a lot!) know that those are actual cups, as in measuring cup.  Also, MyFitnessPal only allows 5 different spaces for meals, so the “Snack” categories are for all foods throughout the day that aren’t a meal and aren’t necessarily eating at once.  I averaged my calorie intake over the past week for this post and found that it was 1702 calories per day.  This is about 400 calories more than my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) or what I burn daily without exercise, but I know that I’m operating in a calorie deficit.  I also know that the calories I’m taking in are quality calories full of the nutrients my body needs.  With the exception of yesterday, I have felt more energized than usual and have found it easier to get out of bed in the morning.  Want to find out your BMR?  I highly recommend it.  You can go here and plug-in some simple data into the calculator to get you started.

Excited about the changes that can occur in just a week!

One thing I haven’t gotten good at recording is the amount of water I’m taking in.  When I get to the recommended 8 glasses, I stop keeping track accurately.  Some days I drink a gallon or more (working out makes me thirsty).

Well, it’s time to hit the gym.  Today I’m hitting the elliptical for cardio and then doing a pushup pyramid.  Would love to make it a burpee pyramid, but gotta take it easy on my foot so no jumping. You can do a pyramid workout with any exercise.  You just start by performing the exercise once, then twice, then three times and so on, until you get to 10.  Then, go back down doing 9, 8, etc.  Check out the image below.  What are your fave workouts?  I’d love to try one out!

Exercise Pyramids are an awesome way to burn some calories and push yourself!

The Cooking Bug & Why Just Showing Up Isn’t Enough

Lately, I have been enjoying my time in the kitchen more than ever before.  In the morning I check out what’s in the fridge and freezer, take out meat or fish to thaw, then type into Google the ingredients I have to work with, and add the word “Paleo”.  This normally yields dozens of awesome recipes.  I quickly look over the first and second page of the results, and save my favorite one or two recipes (If I like elements from multiple recipes, I combine  them).  Then, I don’t have to worry about dinner the rest of the day.

Ken is loving this.  I’ve been cooking nearly every night and he is impressed with how delicious eating healthy can be.  Check out the Quick Paleo Lamb Stir Fry I made last night using my left over grilled lamb from dining out Sunday night at the Turkish restaurant.

Even though it’s fewer than 300 calories, it was really filling and flavorful.   So, even though it’s Summer, the today here in Boston is only in the low 50s and I’m craving a hot soup.  I’m working with chicken tonight and think I’m going to try one of these Paleo soup recipes:  Thai Coconut Chicken Soup , Chicken-Coconut-Lime-Basil Soup, or “Creamy” Chicken Tomato Soup.

Do you have a Paleo recipe I should try?  Post it in the comments or on my Facebook Page.

On a different note, you have probably heard those motivational quotes saying things like, “Getting to the starting line/out the front door/lacing up your shoes is the hardest part,” and I know what they’re getting at, but it’s not true for everyone.  In the last week I have seen so many people who completed “the hardest part” by making it to the gym, getting their workout clothes on, and even climbing onto a machine, but were burning no more calories than they would leisurely tapping their feet while sitting on the sofa watching Seinfeld.  Standing off to the side of the treadmill, and texting does not burn calories.  Sitting on an exercise mat and checking your email doesn’t burn calories either.  If you make the time and take the effort to go to the gym – freaking BE AT THE GYM.  The emails are going to be there when you are done.  Your friend will understand if you text them in an hour.   Do you feel like you aren’t getting enough out of your gym time?  Here are some tips:

* Leave your phone in the locker room/car/at home.  If you want to listen to music, use an iPod.

*Don’t read on the cardio machines.  Opt for an audio book or podcast instead.  Focus on your speed, the effort you are putting into it.

*Make a plan.  Know what you are going to do when you get to the gym and have it written down.  Know what exercises you are doing, in what order, how many reps, sets, etc.  That way you aren’t standing around trying to decide what do to next.  Also, it’s good to be flexible on the order.  If a machine is in use when you need it, go on to the next exercise is possible as to not waste time.

*If possible, arrive at the gym in your workout clothes to avoid crowded locker rooms.  This is a great way to cut down on time if you workout during peak morning/lunch/evening hours.

*If you suck at going to the gym – you are distracted by good-looking people, obnoxious weight lifters, socializing, consider taking your workout outside – run, bike, try a rowing class, rollerblading, or workout at home.

Get in. Get it done. Get out.

Do you have gym productivity tips?  Share them in the comments.