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Invest in Yourself

8 Jan

One of my resolutions for 2013 is to save money.  I am definitely working on being more responsible with my money, but that doesn’t mean I’m stopping spending cash cold turkey.  One thing that I think is a necessity to spend hard earned dough on is fitness.  I think of this as an investment in yourself.

invest in yourself

I have a membership to Colorado Athletic Downtown which is pricey, but close to my office so I know that it is easy to get my butt over there during lunch most days.  The cost difference that I would save by going to a cheaper gym isn’t worth it to me if I never step foot inside it (aka the 24 Hour Fitness by my house that I paid for without ever frequenting).  I’ve learned this lesson and have come to accept that I am paying for great classes and trainers, new equipment, nice amenities (whirlpool, sauna), and prime location.

For me, I get the most benefit (other than a solo run) out of group fitness classes.  Therefore, I am willing to pay for a month subscription to places like Pure Barre or Core Power Yoga if I know they have classes I want to try.  Also, once I shell out money I’m more likely to be committed.

Also, I love to  motivate myself with cute new workout gear.  Each season I’ll head to Nike.com, Lulu, and even Target to stock up on colorful tanks, cute yoga pants, and bright new running shoes.  Being stylish, comfortable, and prepared (for weather) makes me more likely to put on my exercise clothes and actually exercise.  I never feel guilty for these purchases because they’re motivating.

Do you think it’s necessary to spend money on fitness?  Do you save my money by not using expensive gyms or fitness gear?  What other ways do you invest in yourself?

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A beach goal in sight!

16 Nov

Happy Friday!
I can’t believe that November is already going by so fast.  I turned on the radio to Christmas music already, malls are decked out for the holiday season, and I’ve been indulging in the holiday Salted Caramel Mocha at Starbucks a little too often lately.  Yup, I guess it’s that time of the year.  While I do love the holiday season, it’s hard to get motivated when my wardrobe consists of bulky sweaters, stretchy leggings, and huge coats.  Gain a pound here or there?  Add a layer.  Haha, this is definitely not how I want to be approaching this!

What I think I need is a strong dose of motivation.  Annnnnddd, suddenly this week I was given some!  A huge reason to stay motivated, and that is a trip to Cabo, Mexico!  We started an annual beach vacation with a group of close friends last year and promised to do a get away like this each year.  When the planning for the trip started a couple of months ago I wasn’t sure we’d be joining.  There was a big debate about our destination, prices, dates, etc.  Also, I was being reasonable by trying to save money.  But, when the final details were figured out the price was good and I knew we might regret not spending valuable time with our friends.  So, we’re back on board, tickets booked!

Mexico 2012, the annual vacation group

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2012

We are going the first week of February, so that leaves me 12 weeks to get to my goal weight.  I always do so much better with training plans and nutrition when I have an end goal.  I know that being healthy should be an everyday routine, but there’s something about scheduling my weeks for an event that helps me out.

This week went pretty well in terms of activity.  I had a much needed intense cardio session on Monday followed by a relaxing steam room session, cardio and weights Tuesday, missed my workout on Wednesday (boo!), 4 mile run on Thursday, and I have Bodypump today.  As long as I can keep this up through the holidays and eat well then I will be ready to hit the beach in my bikini in February!

CABO Mexcio 2013!

Healthy Small Steps

25 Oct

Recently a friend of mine revealed her “dramatic weight loss” ala Biggest Losers style.  She had been consistently working hard for a long time now, but the before and after pictures are always what make people say, “Whoa! How’d you do it?”.  I kind of laughed because that was my first reaction to the photos too, but then I slowed down and realized that I know how she lost the weight, and you can figure it out too.  It is never because of some fad diet or short-term unachievable regiment.  Weight loss is always the same exact method for everyone.  Here are some key tips that I know helped me along the way and have become common sense knowledge drilled into my brain:

  • Consistency is key.  Plan to do the same thing over and over and over.  Whether you are planning on weight training, running, hiking, dancing…anything, you will have to keep at it.  Sure, there will be days that it’s tough to fit in exercise, and that’s okay because if you are making an effort to workout more days than you don’t workout a week then you’re on the right track.
  • Small choices add up to big changes.  Think of all the food related decisions you make in a day.  This morning I had coffee, like I do everyday.  About a year ago I realized how many empty calories were being consumed by this daily habit before I had even finished checking my email.  Since then I have nixed creamer and any sweeteners, I prefer my coffee just black now and it has zero calories!  Now I try to apply this method to every food choice I make…if I am going to have a sandwich on bread then I can cut out the cheese, save some calories, and still enjoy my lunch.  Cut out fattening salad dressings, skip sour cream, butter, mayo…all of these small sacrifices can end up paying off big time.
  • Have some fun!  Working out doesn’t have to be a dreaded activity or else you will never do it.  Find something that you enjoy doing and run with it (literally for me 🙂 ).
  • Grab a friend, having a moral support system goes such a long way.  Find someone, whether it is your friend, significant other, or someone you meet online (of course blogging is great for this!  And when I first started reading health blogs Spark People was a great motivator for me).  Tell people you’re goals and appreciate when they hold you accountable.  My mom has been such a great cheerleader for me, she will text me when she’s on a run to say “Have you gotten in your cardio today?” and just knowing that someone else is rooting for me makes it so much harder to skip out.
  • Mix it up a bit.  This goes along with having fun.  Don’t do something that is stale to you, if you’re burnt out on running add some fun Zumba classes or a weight lifting routine that you tore out of a magazine and have been meaning to tackle…
  • Don’t beat yourself up.  This is a huge one for me because sometimes it’s easy to give up if you are not seeing results fast enough or are just plain exhausted.  As long as you are able to move forward and know that there is always a new day to improve, you will get there.

What are your stand by fitness tips?  How do you overcome the plateau when you’re tired/bored with a workout?

“Project 37”

17 Sep

Happy Monday, hope everyone had a great weekend!  This weekend I had a few end of summer BBQs and got a lot of errand running done.  It was nice to hang out with friends and feel a little bit accomplished too!  Fall weather gets me in the mood for baking, so my kitchen got some lovin’ this weekend.  My new issue of Cooking Light arrived and inspired me to use my ripe bananas to bake this chocolate hazelnut banana bread.

YUM!  Bring on fall baking

I also love that the cooler weather has started if only for the reason that it feels great to run outside again.  After months of pounding my mileage on the treadmill I can finally get outside for my workouts without feeling like I am going to suffer some form of heat exhaustion.

I decided on a new short-term goal for myself which I am appropriately calling “project 37” because it will take 37 days to complete.  I am going to work out every single day from now until my birthday.  It doesn’t have to be a huge deal, it can be a quick run, bike ride, yoga class, hike…you name it.  This idea came to me when I was reading fellow Denver blogger Betsy at 365 Days, 365 Workouts.  This blog is dedicated to Betsy working out every single day for an entire year (including her wedding day!).  I admire the dedication and it motivated me to re-energize my fitness routine too.  Thanks, Betsy!

I just want to push myself a little bit more physically and stop making excuses like “I am tired/hungry/bored” after work and prove that I can use my time more effectively to fit in a workout a day.  I’ve also been stuck at this weight for a while now, so I want to kick-start my weight loss again.

Oh, do you think these have anything to do with not losing any weight this week? No, they’re my favorite!

Day 1 (Saturday 9/15): Run 3.5 miles- outside

Day 2 (Sunday 9/16): Run 3.0 miles- outside

See, here’s me running my 3 miles at the lake! Go, go, go.

Ok, wish me luck on this!

Julie

I run…

12 Sep

I run…

To get lost for a while and clear my mind

To get in touch with nature

To listen to new songs on my playlist

For Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food

So I can eat chocolate chip cookies

To forget work problems

For an extra cocktail

To re-energize

For skinny jeans

So I can buy cute new running shoes

To be faster and stronger than I was yesterday

I’ve gotten the itch to lace up my running shoes more often lately. I think I can contribute that to the cooler weather, there’s nothing like a cool weather run right before it gets dark.  I told you that I won’t be able to participate in the Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon like I was planning, so I’ve packed my calendar with some other awesome races in the next month or so.

September 29: Color Me Rad 5K similar to the Color Run that I ran this spring, Color Me Rad is a fun run that has an explosion of color every 1K or so, and you cross the finish line looking like your entire body was dipped in a tie dye project.  Fun!

Gamma Phi Betas after the Color Run

October 7: Race for the Cure I am looking forward to decking out and pink and supporting the fight against breast cancer.

October 14: Run the ‘Rocks 5K a race at my favorite venue ever, Red Rocks? Yes, please!  And of course, it wouldn’t be a complete Red Rocks experience unless those famous stair climbs were a part of it.  This race benefits the American Lung Association.  I am especially excited because I have talked Ed into joining me and this will be his 1st race experience.

October 27: Denver Gorilla Run this fun run benefits the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund.  The best part of this race is all the participants dress up in gorilla costumes.  Yep, I’ve got a big, hairy gorilla suit being shipped to me.  My company actually is a big sponsor for the event so we have a separate theme for our team as well…more to come on that!

This list might not be the competitive races I was hoping for this fall, but I am looking forward to filling my weekends with some awesome runs around Denver with good company.  What races are you doing this fall, any that I should sign up for?

Julie

Strike a Pose

13 Aug

Welcome back from the weekend, everyone!

Luckily, my Monday is already flying by, how about yours?  This was a great weekend, took Friday off of work to head up to Breckenridge for a good friend’s 35th birthday.  There were about 15 of us that chipped in for a mountain house, food, and booze.  There is something about being up in the fresh mountain air that just makes for a perfect late summer getaway.  While I didn’t get in as much exercise as I wanted to (should have) gotten in, I kept portion sizes in check and sipped on vodka sodas instead of sugary cocktails or carb-heavy beers.  Sometimes that’s just all you can do on a fun weekend, and luckily that is okay when you’re living a healthy balanced life!

Speaking of balanced, today on a whim I decided to drop in a yoga class (level 1 Vinyasa).  There was a period back in college when I had a student pass to Core Power Yoga, which I loved.  I went to classes about 3-4 times a week, but that was my main form of exercise and sculpting.  Well, since that was 3 years ago and my dusty mat hasn’t been used since then, I was a little nervous going into class today.  I know that it is an individual practice and all poses are easily modifiable, but no matter how many group exercise classes I go to I still have that “new kid on the block” feeling when I start.

Once I got moving and breathing I felt completely at ease and I was happy to see that my light stretching after my runs has helped to maintain at least some flexibility and balance!  The teacher was great and it was a fairly easy lunch class.  I am hoping that I can find an hour each Monday to go back.

A main reason that I realize I need to incorporate more core work, and strength training in general, is that lately my lower back has been extremely painful.  There have been several day streaks that even sitting down at my desk is almost unbearable.  My main form of exercising these days is running (either on the treadmill at lunch or outside during the evening) and then I’ll bust out a few quick stretches, sit-ups, and plank.  This is obviously not enough for my core strength, so I am challenging myself to step it up!

Your core muscles surround your trunk and pelvis, including your abs, obliques, and lower back muscles.  By strengthening these muscles you can prevent minor pain and even major injuries.  Some simple tips are to use good posture, limit bed rest (it can do the opposite of resting your body and muscles by stiffening them), icing, and stability exercises (here are some good ones).  My goal for myself is to include core strengthening exercises into my cardio routine and to also incorporate rejuvenating classes like yoga into my weekly schedule.  Hopefully these two things will help to alleviate my back pain and bring more balance into my fitness.

Aside from going back to yoga, I did one other thing that I never thought I would: ate sushi from a street cart.  I was a little apprehensive because, well, we all know the typical stereotypes of street food and adding seafood to the mix sounds downright scary.   But, the buzz around my office about Yatai Sushi has all been very positive.  The chef/owner, Britt, has studied Asian food all over the world for 15+ years.  The food is all made to order and super fresh.  I had a spicy tuna hand roll, shrimp spring roll, and miso soup all for $9.  It was so filling and delicious, you can bet that I will be adding this to my lunch rotation.  If you’re in the downtown Denver area, Yatai is at 17th and California everyday, try it out!

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Namaste!

Julie

Beating Exercise Excuses

3 Aug

Has anyone else been struggling to find the motivation they need to hit the gym?  I know that I am in that boat lately!  The past month or so has been an uphill battle for me to get my butt moving.  Before then, I had a 10K to train for and I was planning on running a 1/2 marahton.  Well, my 10K went well and I met my goal of finishing in under an hour.  Then, I signed up for the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon, only to realize days into my training plan that I have a big wedding planned for the same day.  Once I didn’t have these races to hold me accountable to my running schedules, I allowed myself to become a bit lazy.

And you know how the cycle goes, once you start to miss workouts, it suddenly becomes easier and easier to keep skipping them.  Which is not good when I am still on the path to reaching my goal weight!  Luckily I have been eating healthy so I haven’t gained any weight back, but it is time to re-energize my workout routine and kick start my loss again.

I have been thinking a lot about what changed in my routine, and I assume that a lot of you probably face the same derailing situations.  So, let’s discuss.

My 5 Main Exercise Excuses of the Summer:

1. It is so damn HOT outside!  I know that the entire country has been experiencing record highs, and my Colorado native body is just not used to temps. reaching 100 degrees.  The heat exhausts me as soon as I walk outside and I feel like my energy just gets sapped.

2.  I have a dinner/date/happy hour/meeting coming up and I don’t have time to shower after working out.  Come on, girls, I know that you have thought this before.  I try to either get in my workouts during my lunch break at work or right after work, but some days I have a packed schedule and I just don’t wan to get sweaty because I know I don’t have a ton of time to shower, fix my makeup, hair, etc.

3.  There is something more fun happening!  Yes, lame excuse, but it happens more often in the summer when there are fun BBQs, picnics, happy hours, dinners, and parties happening.

4.  I’ve missed one workout already, might as well wait until next week to start again…  This same all or nothing thinking can apply to eating habits too.  There are many times that I realize I am negotiating with myself to throw the rest of my workout routine out the window because I missed one run, or had one slip up at lunch.

5.  I am tired after work & deserve to relax.  Well, yes, we all know that sitting at a desk all day ironically can lead to being even more tired.  I am sure we have all experienced that magnetic pull to the couch.

Don’t let yourself be this couch potato!

OK, great, I am sure you all know where I am coming from.  But, what good does complaining do?  Does making excuses help us lose weight or feel like we are working towards a healthy goal?  NO!  Of course not.  I know that, and you know that.  So, it’s time that I confront my excuses face on and make a plan of action to overcome them.

Here’s how I can work around these excuses and find the motivation to workout:

1.  When it’s hot in the summer months, plan to make exercise a part of your routine.  On the weekends if you know it is going to be too warm outside, get up earlier to go on a run or hike while it is still cool enough.  Keep hydrated with water during the day so that your energy stays up.  Also, if you’re like me, my house doesn’t have air conditioning…but the gym does!  Silly things like reminding myself of this fact help give me the push I need.

2.  If you are worried about your hair getting too sweaty at the gym, try incorporating something other than cardio.  A yoga class is perfect for toning muscles and you can still walk of out class looking good (unless, of course, you’re into hot bikram yoga)!  Also, using Twistband hair ties helps when you work out because they don’t leave a dent in your hair.  Now, when I know that I have big plans after the gym I can just rinse off in the shower and be on my way.

3.  Make physical activity a priority!  You can do both excercise and the fun stuff, but you’ll feel guilt free (not to mention look hot!) when you do make it to happy hour.  Remember, even 30 minutes of cardio is better than nothing!

4.  This kind of thinking doesn’t even make sense.  Seriously, missing one workout doesn’t give you an excuse to laze around the rest of the week- it should do the opposite and motivate you!  You can always make up a workout by doing a 2x a day, using your lunch hour to walk around the city, or go on a fast paced walk after dinner.  If all else fails, hey, just dust off your sneakers and get back out there the next day.

5.  The great thing about working out, even if you’re tired, is that it will actually give you energy!  What’s better than an instant serotonin boost and energy spike after work so that you can actually enjoy the rest of the evening, not waste time on the couch.

No more excuses!

I am going to keep this post fresh in my brain for those days that I just feel like throwing in the towel.  Remember, achieving your health goals is about a balance of healthy eating as well as healthy physical activity.  Once an old personal trainer told me, “If you’re making an excuse to avoid your workout, commit to at least 10 minutes.  I am willing to bet that after 10 minutes you will change your mind and complete your workout.”  So true, just try it!

Julie