Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What a year. I’m grateful for the life I’ve been given, the incredible people in my life (especially the guy by my side), and the opportunities & adversities I have face this year. I prepared myself for 2013, choosing the word COURAGE as my one little word. I had no idea the ways it would present itself to me.

I took a bit of a hiatus from writing my thoughts in this medium, popping in and out only in moments (really 47 posts for the ENTIRE year??). I had to take a few months to process some very personal things. Rather than spewing my most personal thoughts on the interwebs (like really, who wants to read all of that? who needs to read all of that? I’m not that important.), I took some time to write them the old fashioned way, pen and paper, and loads of self-conversations while running. I probably could have published some of it on here, but it boiled down to a simple concept. I have been blessed with a gift. Rather than use words as weapons to destroy (no matter how vindicated or justified I’d feel in spewing so much snark), I’d rather use words to motivate or uplift (because who wants to hold onto that negativity? I have certainly felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders when I finally released some of my demons. Too much baggage, gah!). Instead of sharing what I saw as my own truth, I opted to contain it so as to not hurt others and myself. It took a great deal of courage for me to come to that decision, especially when I felt like I was being attacked. Then again, when you are in the thick of things, it is easy to latch onto the smallest of things and run with it until you are positively insane. We’ve all been there, consumed by madness! In any case, I wanted to say thank you to all of my friends and family who lifted me up. Many of you reading this had no idea that the tiniest bits of things you’ve posted online, texted me, emailed, written, tiny gestures…meant so very much to me when I was feeling quite low. If you feel compelled to share exciting news or come across a phrase that motivates/inspires you, then share it. You have no idea the ripples you create in doing just that!

I had the courage to embrace my imperfections. I began to appreciate that I was a broken pot, used to water the plants along the side of the road. I hadn’t really understood my own rippling effect, until I was forced to push pause on my life an reflect. I’m gonna own that as a major win. I’m also going to celebrate that I kept on keeping on.

These were the goals I’d set forth and nearly accomplished them all. (We didn’t go camping and I flew on aerial silks instead of a trapeze):

These are my major accomplishments for the year:
  1. I jumped out of a plane and lived.
  2. I ran a half marathon and amazed myself with my finish time. (I even amazed myself with my 5K improvements.)
  3. I saw my eldest off to her first day of school.
  4. I also witnessed her happily read her first several books to me.
  5. I also cried a great many tears of joy after she completed her first 5K with an average pace of 12 minute miles (she’s 5!!!).
  6. I witnessed our youngest master potty training and running her first mile in a race with a 13 minute mile pace (outstanding! She’s 2!).
  7. I also saw her vocabulary expand exponentially. She also knows how to flip off of the ottoman, jump on one foot, dance whenever music is playing, and sings along to the radio.
  8. I went to a great number of concerts, even scoring a media pass to document the experience.
  9. I had a year’s worth of dates with my Beloved (at least one a month). Several of them were overnight dates, too!
  10. I visited California 3 times, dug my toes in the sand, climbed a mountain (twice), and sat under the redwoods breathing it all in.
  11. I got a new car!
  12. I hosted my very own 5K for my birthday (and will be doing it again in 2014).
  13. I survived the health scare of my fractured vertebrae and venous cavernous malformation.
  14. I let go of personal aches, made peace with my past, and found myself better for it.
  15. I began a type of art therapy for myself by incorporating devotions/scripture in a journal.
  16. I drank a lot of coffee. ha ha!
  17. I worked out a lot with my Beloved.
  18. I started to incorporate skills from my professional life and began a new project that will hopefully launch next year.
  19. I had SO MUCH TIME with my bests!!! It wasn’t weeks on end, but hours, certainly, and such good quality hours, too!
  20. I ate a lot of really good food!
  21. I tried to grow a garden, which basically amounted to basil.
  22. I held two new babies birthed by my friends (even helping one of them through pre-labor).
  23. I stood next to my nephew/godson as he was Confirmed this year.
  24. I had my first ever facial…which is big because I don’t like anyone touching my face.
  25. Embraced gluten-free cooking/baking and have had much success!

Cheers to 2014! Looking forward to it!

Happy 1st Anniversary: Samantha & Roy

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Last Winter Solstice, a small group of friends and some family members gathered in an intimate chapel to celebrate life, love, and happiness. My husband and I were there to capture these moments. It was our gift to the bride and groom, my sister and her new husband. Happy first anniversary, Samantha & Roy!



Fitness Buddy: 5 Keys to Helping Your Partner Train for the NYC Triathlon

Thursday, December 12, 2013

If you are like me, you may possibly yo-yo between fitness routines. Usually, when I have a scheduled race with an actual goal in mind, I commit to the race, then the training tapers off and I get back to being a lug until a few months pass by, my pansa gets a bit large, my clothes get a bit tight, and I rush off to find another race. Vicious cycle.
But I am quite competitive, especially against myself. I also like having support and someone who will cheer for me. It’s fun to feel strong, look your best, and you can’t beat those endorphins!
Early last month, my Beloved came to me and told me what he wanted for his 40th birthday. You can imagine my surprise, because he NEVER asks for anything, let alone that far in advance of his birthday (it is in May). He told me he wanted to do the NYC Triathlon. Not only that, but he wanted to commit to raise $3000 for the Semper Fi Fund.
So, in that moment, I beamed with pride and dedicated myself to help him train for the race. Here’s the breakdown:
1500m swim – .93 mile open water swim in the Hudson River
40k bike – 24.85 miles along Manhattan’s West Side highway
10k run – 6.2 miles of running through Central Park
With that in mind, here are 5 keys to help your partner train for any event, but in my case, the NYC Triathlon.
  1. Meal Planning
  2. Train with Your Partner
  3. Keep them accountable
  4. Encourage your partner
  5. Education
1. Meal Planning…DIET, DIET, DIET
No hormones, no additives, no preservatives, organic (as much as possible), natural…to you, it may sound like EXPENSIVE, but to me, you can’t put a price on your health.
You may have heard that phrase that abs are made in the kitchen. It’s true. Diet contributes 100% to your fitness. Put crap into your body, and you will see the results. I did the vegetarian diet before with great success. However, I have since altered my stance and have become a flexitarian. Freshly caught wild fish (not farm raised), grass fed beef, free range/vegetarian fed poultry, and other local sources are what I aim for. Pay now for better food or pay later for your health-related costs. Plus, not everything HAS to be overpriced! Ethnic foods are more than affordable and quite flavorful!
The Method: Each week on Saturday, I spend about half an hour meal planning. I jot down each day’s meals on our weekly meal plan page. Alongside it is my grocery list, where I check off or list what we will need for each meal.  On Sundays, we go grocery shopping for the week. The weekly meal plan, then lives on the front of the fridge. Sunday nights, we may do some meal prep.
Getting the Goods: We shop at Market Street, Trader Joe’s, and HMart. Market Street for veggies, fish, beef, cheeses, and dried goods. Trader Joes’s for eggs, more veggies, almond/soy milk (Both of our daughters have an allergy to milk--yes, even hormone-free milk--, so we have gone to more soy and almond milk. The evidence of the dairy issue presents itself with certain cheeses, but not Greek yogurt.), gluten-free flour,  canned San Marzano tomatoes, and on occasion flowers (yes, just checking to see if you were still paying attention!)
In the late evenings when I want a snack (especially after a workout), we will make ourselves a juice. This is so much better than nachos, cereal, or even a Twinkie (yes, I’m giving you a side-eye Tracy Anderson because not only do I think the juice has some nutritional value, you have me wanting a Twinkie in the worst way). Also, you still have to be sure you get your fiber!

Daily Routine: Breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, juice
2. Train with Your Partner
Creativity lends itself better with twos, and I believe the same could be said when training. Otherwise, why else would all of the group fitness options be made available if people didn’t enjoy the camaraderie. But this isn’t just exercise, it is actual training. Every single day we grind. Every workout is thought out with the idea that we will be better than what we were yesterday and we will keep pushing forward to reach the goals.
“Different physical tasks require different physical adaptations; running 26.2 miles is obviously a different task than squatting 700 pounds, and the two efforts require completely different physical adaptations. If a program of physical activity is not designed to get you stronger or faster or better conditioned by producing a specific stress to which a specific desirable adaptation can occur, you don't get to call it training. It is just exercise.”—Mark Rippetoe
Daily Routine:  This requires that we run together, we lift weights together, we stretch/yoga/meditate together, we cycle together, and we swim together. We also recover together.
3. Keep Them Accountable
Two facts: I am not a great swimmer. I am an even worse cyclist.  When he has to bike or swim, that’s when I mostly focus on myself for things that will not cause bodily harm to me. When he is biking, I am out running. When he is swimming, I’m doing plyometrics or a cardio activity. In both instances, I’m doing something during the time he is doing something. The buddy is putting in the time, so must you! On those days where neither of us feels like doing anything, it is up to me to remind him why he started this journey. If I’m ever in doubt of myself, I just need to lean to my online friends and they do a great job of motivating me and keeping me accountable. I can’t escape it, thus he can’t escape it. It’s a good problem to have. Also, when in doubt, revisit this video:

4. Encourage Your Partner
Be a cheerleader. Cheer yourself for sticking by their side, but also scream your lungs out when you can. Be there for the slumps. Be there for the gains. Either way, give encouragement. If you can be there on race day, make signs, wear the cheesy shirt, and get others to yell with you.

5. Education
Research training plans. Establish a baseline, then grow from there. Learn all you can about preventing injury, things to prepare for the event, and training in conditions that will be present on race day. Also, learn the route. If you are going to be on location to cheer them on, come up with points along the way and communicate those places with your partner. It is so much easier for them to spot you, than it is for you to spot them!
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