Sidelined and Stressed Out

So… I’m sidelined. The jury is still out on exactly what’s going on, but I don’t think there’s any question to the fact that I overtrained.

One day, after a few months of triathlon training – swim/bike/run/core workouts – I started getting some knee pain while running. Initially it was a dull pain along the outside of my left knee, and after having to cut a handful of runs short, I somehow convinced myself that “maybe I just need to run through it.” So I pushed through a 5-mile run at sub-8-minute miles, and as I winced to a stop about a half mile from home, I began to fill with regret.

The consensus among trainers and fellow athletes seemed to be IT band issues, and the doctor and PT concurred. So we worked on strengthening my glutes and breaking up some of the knotted muscle fibers that were thought to be a source of the pain. Stretching, foam rolling, PVC pipe rolling, getting in there with a lacrosse ball… and even dry needling.

It wasn’t getting worse, but it wasn’t getting better. I could still swim, strength train and ride my bike, so after initial withdrawals from running I found some peace.

I kept up with swimming and biking, and spent my evenings crawling around the living room doing PT exercises and watching “The Wire” on Netflix. I figured by season three I’d be all fixed up.

Cut to season three…

The knee pain crept up about 20 miles into a weekend bike ride. Knee pain on the bike? This was new. I pushed it for another 10 miles or so, until I was finally able to quite the voice that was saying “maybe you just need to ride through it.” And then I remembered how well that worked out for me last time.

I rolled into a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, where I avoided conversations with strangers and choked back tears behind my scratched Oakleys, and waited for my Knight in a shining white Jetta to arrive.

So here I am. Sidelined. And I have to say it doesn’t feel good.

There’s not happy ending to share quite yet, but I’m 100% positive that there will be. Patience is all.

The moral is: We expect a lot of our bodies, at least I do, and 99% of the time they rise to the occasion. So we ask for more and more until one day it just spins around and says “F*@! YOU,” And for some reason we are surprised.

Don’t be surprised. Do the right things and listen carefully to what your body is telling you, even if it is barely a whisper.

So you think you’re ready to do your first triathlon?

Well then I’d say you are too. It’s just something you know.

The first time I expressed interest (about 2 years ago), it was a false start. I talked about it a little bit – even found one I wanted to do – and did a few “brick workouts” just to prove to myself that I was capable. But then I never registered.

Then in January 2014, the interest resurfaced. And this time I signed up.

I spent the next few months logging slow splits in my Nikes and chasing some fast friends around on bikes. I never so much as dipped a toe in a pool, and my only time spent in the ocean was to recover from sunbathing.

Don’t get me wrong… I was fit… But training wasn’t very specific to triathlon. I was still mostly focused on abs.

Race day came along, and I was pretty much freaking out. I babbled about how nervous I was until I couldn’t even listen to myself talk anymore. And anyone who knows me understands that I have a terribly high threshold for hearing my own voice.

Waiting at the edge of the water, I said to myself, “I’m so nervous,” probably another two or ten times. And finally it was my turn to dive in. So I ran in as deep as I could, then just started swimming. Next thing I knew, I was toweling off my sandy feet and clipping into my pedals.

Somewhere along the sandy bike loop I felt a smile creep over my face, and as I mashed my pedals to the next transition, it didn’t uncurl for a second. I jumped off the bike, switched shoes, and just started running.

And in 1:26:06.7 I went from “I’m so nervous!” to “wow that was awesome.”

Now I’m in love… or maybe addicted… and looking forward to a full season of sprint triathlon. My goal this year? To win.

From “I just want to lose a few pounds” to “I am a triathlete”

I’m sorry I ditched you for a bit, but I had to. I was getting off topic.

The whole point of this blog was to use my own fitness journey to help other people find their fittest selves. But my journey has dramatically evolved, and my blog wasn’t keeping up. It became a challenge to write from the experiences that defined my journey more than a year ago.

When the goal of “fitness” started for me, it was about diet and exercise, abs and thighs, and fitting into my skinny jeans. I stuck with it, and that dream can come true. But I could never have predicted what would happen next.

I became an athlete. And I never even saw it coming.

Two years ago I was struggling to run a 10-minute mile, and one year ago I was running a 5k time that I could be proud of. Seven months ago I participated in my first sprint triathlon, and this year my season is packed and I’m training to win my age group.

It might be easy (in hindsight) to pick out a few training benchmarks, my journey from “I just want to lose a few pounds” to “I am a triathlete” is still a bit of a mystery to me.

The point is… well there are two. The first is that if I want to continue to inspire people with my own experience, I have to share the challenges and successes that I am closest t0 – the ones I am living right now. And while they aren’t about finding motivation to go to the gym or to sticking to a low-calorie meal plan, they are still about breaking out of my comfort zone to reach new goals and set new limits.

The second is that I couldn’t have predicted my path, and neither should you. So think about what you want to achieve in the near future, create a plan, and get it. Let fantasy inspire you only if it doesn’t limit you. Embrace learning and discomfort, and don’t fear setbacks. Be honest with yourself and what you want. Don’t do it for anyone else, and don’t not do it because of anyone else.

 

Resolution #FitPlace – A Little Boost of Inspiration for Training

Finding inspiration to get fit is different for everyone. And for each of us, we’ll find that it needs to evolve along with our physical fitness and the psychological changes that come with it.

I look back at some of the things that used to provide me with inspiration to get fit and reach my goals, and can see how much I have changed. In most cases, the images and words that I used to fuel my motivation are anything but irrelevant. They have just become so much a part of me and my thought process, that I’ve been able to adapt new mantras to help me work toward my new goals.

Right now, it’s no longer about inspiration to get fit for me, but inspiration to get better and train harder. I’ve been training with some events in mind, and have recently outlined my goals for the triathlon season. Currently my trainers and I are working on a plan, but having competed before there are a few things I know I’ll need to be successful. So a few pieces of inspiration have recently hit home for me.

One thing I know is that I’ll need to be able to push it when I feel like I’ve got nothing left:

“The most critical decision is made when you feel like giving up.”
Recently, I’ve been practicing for these moments as part of my training. When I get to the toughest part of the workout – the last set, or the last mile – I get hyper-focused, and push it. I find all of the energy I can, and instead of simply avoiding the feeling to give up, I practice making a decision to go harder.

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And another thing I know is that I need to believe in myself. 

“You have to believe in yourself when noone else does. That makes you a winner right there.”
 – Venus Williams
I love this quote, and it’s not because I lack support, but because believing you can do something is really the secret to achievement. Of course, you have to be willing to put in the work, but without the belief, you’ve got nothing. I’m grateful for all of the support I have, and for all of the people who believe in me. But if I let that belief make me, then it can break me too. I need to believe in myself.

Take Action: Think about what you’ve chosen as inspiration to get fit. Is it still relevant? Has it worked up until this point to keep you moving when you felt like quitting?

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Resolution #FitPlace – Living a Healthy Lifestyle: Breaking it Down to Build it up

I think part of the challenge to finding our paths to “Living a Healthy Lifestyle” is that the phrase has lost its essence in our consciousness.

Phrases get so heavily stuffed into our vernacular that we grow numb to them, or lose an understanding of their true meaning.

Quick – what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about living a healthy lifestyle?

If you imagine yourself bangin’ out bicycle crunches in front of your TV while the sun streams in on your smiling face and suddenly spacious living room… well, that’s not your healthy lifestyle. That’s an infomercial.

If you imagine yourself slipping into a red dress, turning to the mirror, and sliding your hands down your waist and hips with a smile… think again. That’s not you either. That’s a cereal commercial.

If you picture yourself in cargo shorts, hiking boots and a sleek ponytail, sitting on a rock to overlook the valley and crunch on a granola bar… well, you get the picture.

So let’s think about it again. What does living a healthy lifestyle mean to you?

This is important, because the ability to visualize yourself having reached your goals will help you attain them. It all goes back to the question – how will you get there if you don’t know where you’re going?

To help get the juices flowing, let’s think about what the term actually means.

Living
You are here – now – and time doesn’t stop for you to reach your goals. And whether or not you are fit and healthy, the responsibilities and the logistics of your life still exist. The whole point is to improve your life, not pause it.

Healthy
Healthy isn’t just about what is physically healthy, but what is emotionally healthy. You have to treat your body and mind well. One can’t be fit without the other.

Lifestyle
Remember to think about this as part of the goal. We aren’t racing toward a finish line. We are developing the habit of making choices, and they need to be as enjoyable and sustainable as possible until they become part of ourselves.

Living a Healthy Lifestyle. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act but a habit. Finding Your Fit Place.

Take Action: Visualize yourself living a healthy lifestyle, and do it today.

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Resolution #FitPlace – Prepare Healthy Meals for the Week

Sunday gives us a great opportunity to get ready for Monday, and one of the things we can do is prepare healthy meals for the week.

This sounds easy enough, right? But I’ve been doing this for years, and I’ve wasted way too much food to know that being able to prepare healthy meals for the week is anything but easy.

How do you know what you want to eat on Thursday? …it’s like 5 days away…. And how do you know that what you want to eat on Thursday is going to keep until Thursday?

Well.. you don’t. And even as you practice and learn, it’s still a challenge. So I’ve got a few recommendations.

Some Guidelines: How to Prepare Healthy Meals for the Week

1. Make sure they lend themselves to variety. For example, I just made a big pot of lentils. I can heat them with more broth to make lentil soup, or make some quinoa and eat them with a nice big scoop on top. I also have a great recipe for lentil burgers.

2. Think about what will keep well. Some foods don’t do well as leftovers, and basically we are making a week’s worth of leftovers.

3. Cook what you can, prepare everything else. For example, reheated turkey burgers aren’t really the best, but if I mix the meat with the seasoning, make the patties, freeze them, and pull them out as I need them, then I am a few steps ahead of the game. And I won’t be eating dry turkey burgers.

4. Be economical. A little brown rice in the trash on Friday isn’t going to break the bank, but if you are buying organic fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meats and expensive grains, then you probably don’t want that stuff to end up getting wasted.

5. Don’t get too ambitious with your portions. Sure, you might only want to eat 1/2 a sweet potato with your grilled chicken, but trust me – that is much easier to do on paper. If that’s your plan, then fine, but make sure you are prepared so you don’t end up eating 1/2 a box of Lucky Charms because meal plan was too stingy. A couple extra sweet potatoes won’t kill you. (Don’t overcommit, remember?)

6. Pick foods you like. Remember to balance satiety and the ability to control portions with overall “healthiness” of the meal. If plain grilled chicken is a chore for you to eat, then think about what you can prepare that you will enjoy. A few extra calories with the healthy meal is much better than all of the extra calories you will consume if you are left dissatisfied and hungry after the meal.

Try referencing my post about selecting your nutrition for a little more info about how to select foods and create a meal plan that works for you.

Take Action: This about your preparedness to eat healthy in the upcoming week.

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Asian Salad with Thai Peanut Butter Dressing. Finding Your Fit Place.

Asian Salad with Thai Peanut Butter Dressing

This Asian salad recipe with homemade thai peanut butter dressing is easy to make, and the ingredients are easy to find.

It was inspired by a few recipes I found, including this Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Dressing from Bobbly Flay on The Food Network, and this Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing from Once Upon a Chef, but my version is gluten-free, vegan, and has no added sugar. I also mixed in a few more fruits/vegetables to add some sweetness and flavor in a healthier way.

Asian Salad with Thai Peanut Butter Dressing

Thai Peanut Dressing Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce (make sure it is gluten-free if you want the recipe to be gluten-free!)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • handful of fresh cilantro
  • dried chili flakes to taste
  • salt to taste
  • garlic powder to taste

Salad Ingredients

  • 2 cups butter lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 asian pear, chopped
  • 2 oz. (2 servings) rice noodles, prepared

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients for dressing in a blender, blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Toss lettuce, cabbage and carrots with half of the dressing and place in a large bowl.
  3. Pour noodles, bell pepper and Asian pear on top of lettuce mixture, and pour remaining dressing over the top. Garnish with a little more cilantro, lime wedges and some sugar snap peas.
  4. Enjoy!

For those of you following Resolution #FitPlace, I thought this would be a nice break from the motivational coaching! Don’t forget about the importance of loving your food. Good nutrition can be as interesting as you make it. Get creative!

 

Turn weekend weight gain into weekend weight loss. Finding Your Fit Place.

Resolution #FitPlace – How to turn Weekend Weight Gain into Weekend Weight Loss

Turning weekend weight gain into weekend weight loss is mostly about changing your perspective, and a little bit about planning.

Even if your goal isn’t weekend weight loss, and you aren’t concerned with weekend weight gain, these principles can be applied to sticking with any goal during a time that is generally designated for doing whatever we want.

After five days of the same routine, likely governed by the structure of bedtimes, alarm clocks and the 9-5 grind, the weekend provides lots of tempting excuses to stray. And while there is no problem in using this time as an opportunity to relax, it’s important in the early stages of developing new habits not to let this throw you off.

The point is, whatever you do this weekend, let it be something that will help you reach your goals. Whether that means resting up so you can go hard on Monday, or sticking to plan you you don’t feel bad on Monday… well that’s up to you.

How to turn weekend weight gain into weekend weight loss (or at least not lose your momentum):

  1. It starts with the week leading up to it! (Hmmm…) Don’t treat the week like a sprint. Plain and simple. If you give Monday through Thursday all you’ve got, then you won’t have anything left on Friday night.
  2. Get out of the “good” and “bad” mentality. Sometimes you might be moving more quickly in the direction of your goals than others, and if that happens to be during the week then that is just great. But remember that being relaxed about your diet and exercise on the weekend isn’t “bad,” and it doesn’t mean that you’ve messed up in some way. Make a conscious decision to enjoy it… or don’t.
  3. Don’t look to Monday like it’s some sort of magical willpower day. Sure, maybe you can refocus on Monday, but wouldn’t you rather spend the day building momentum instead of trying to reverse it? Trust me. Tuesday will be better.
  4. Don’t fear the weekend for its challenges. Embrace it for its opportunities.
  5. Plan activities. This is really about finding new and exciting things to look forward to on the weekend and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. This will help keep you active, but just as important, it will help nurture a desire to evolve.
  6. Plan ahead. Some things you just can’t say “no” to – a birthday party, dinner, drinks, etc. Get the workout in so you don’t feel guilty indulging… or decide ahead of time that certain things just aren’t worth it. Whatever you do, be prepared. I’ve got wine-time scheduled after work with two of my best friends, so I’m taking today as my rest day from the gym. Again, this goes back to the first point – a good weekend starts with a good week. I trained M-Th and have a swim and strength training scheduled Saturday.

How to turn weekend weight gain into weekend weight loss. Finding Your Fit Place.

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Resolution #FitPlace – Inspiration to Eat Healthy

As a followup to yesterday’s post containing inspiration to exercise, today I’ve got some inspiration to eat healthy.

Finding inspiration to eat healthy isn’t quite as easy – sometimes quotes or images tow the line between promoting healthy eating and starvation. Sure, sometimes you will be hungry, but the pain should be mostly psychological, not physical.

A little discomfort from hunger is just something you’ll have to deal with. But if you’re truly hungry then you should probably eat. “No pain no gain” comes in when you are battling brownie urges. Sometimes that hurts pretty bad. But you will get over it. I promise.

Until then – or even just for today – find some inspiration to eat healthy that will support your motivation to stick to plan. Here are a few ideas:

“Your body keeps an accurate journal of what you eat regardless of what you write down.”
This is one of my favorite quotes that I shared in a motivational post a while back.

“You don’t find willpower. You create it.”
I found this on Pinterest, and it is something that I believe is 100% true. The good news? You can create it. There is a great book called The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It that explains how Willpower works like a muscle.

“You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake.”

Inspiration to eat healthy. Finding Your Fit Place. You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake

“I don’t diet. I just eat according to my goals.”

Inspiration to Eat Healthy. Finding Your Fit Place. I don't diet. I just eat according to my goals.

“You want results? Then eat like it.”
This is kind of the bottom line…Inspiration to Eat Healthy. Finding Your Fit Place. You Want Results? Then Eat Like it.

If you’re still having trouble skipping dessert, try reading this post that will teach you how,
Or to learn more about how to incorporate dessert into healthy eating, you can try my approach, but it isn’t for everyone :)

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Resolution #FitPlace – Inspiration to Exercise (Tonight!)

While motivation really has to come from within, inspiration to exercise is much easier to find. There is a wealth of inspirational quotes, images, articles, etc. out there. Just check Pinterest!

This week in Resolution #FitPlace we are making moves – jogging, not sprinting – and I thought some inspiration to exercise tonight might help get rid of any thoughts of skipping your workout. But like I said, try to find something that works for you. Use this as… well… as inspiration…

“Transformation isn’t a future event. It’s a present day activity.”
– Jillian Michaels

“The only thing standing between you and your goals is that bullshit story you keep telling yourself.”
Pretty straightforward. No excuses tonight!

Inspiration to Exercise. Finding Your Fit Place. The only thing that stands between you and your goals is that bull story you are telling yourself.
“Definition of a really good workout: When you Hate doing it but love finishing it.”
This goes back to the most important thing you need to know about getting fit – it will not be easy.

“Make time for it. Just get it done. Nobody ever got strong or got in shape by thinking about it. They did it.”
– Jim Wendler
… yup. pretty much.

Take Action: Go to the gym!

Need more inspiration to exercise? 
Check out this post about how exercise provides positive reinforcement for itself,
Or this one about how to use the wealth of inspirational quotes out there to your advantage.

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