Make the Investment In Yourself

Christmas/Hanukah shopping is in full-swing, if not at critical mass, and people are dropping serious dough on the ones they love before the holidays officially start on Wednesday. In our family, we do a Secret Santa among the “kids” in my family because I am one of 5 and when you add in the significant others/spouses, it just gets ridiculous. So, besides coming up with a fabulous gift for JB, coordinating for our parents, getting the one Secret Santa gift and trying to stop myself from shopping even more for my fat little angle baby niece, Christmas shopping is pretty easy for me.

Shopping for others is easy for me.

Thoughtful presents for parents/loved ones? I got you covered! By the way, how is it possible the Post Office is so broke with all the presents and cards I'm mailing?

Investing in myself is not always so easy-breezy.

JB wants a tree for five days? Sure, we'll get a tree!

I have such a hard time spending on myself. Why is that?

Why can we find and spend on everyone else but ourselves? Some of it is <insert religion> guilt (Catholics/Jews, you feel me on this one), but the same could be said for any other type of religion/parenting/upbringing that encourage you to think only of others and never yourself. It’s not all a bad thing, mind you, and I don’t mean to rag on Catholicism or Judaism but it’s just something I personally struggle to find the balance between.

As a runner, I pride myself in being able to just lace up my shoes and run out the door, no fancy equipment required.

Got shoes? Can run!

But then I get an awesome new gadget for my birthday and my running is that much more enjoyable and I can tailor my workouts even more to the goals I have. Why did I wait so long to get my Garmin when I am absolutely at that place in my running career where pace/tempo/time matters to me?

My Garmin was a total life-saver in Philly!

I’m getting a lot better at investing in myself (ahem, NYU), thanks to JB and some very encouraging friends. Because, when you break things down, what are the cost equivalents for your health vs. other stuff?

  • $30 = Flywheel class or 3 drinks at a bar (~1 night out for most of us)
  • $90 = new pair of Brooks Defyance shoes or 1 dinner out (you know: drinks, dinner, dessert, tip…it adds up)
  • $20 = copay to see me favorite chiropractor or 1 movie with a snack
  • $76 = 1 month gym membership for winter treadmill running or going out for lunch once (or twice) a week for a month
  • $85 = lululemon run: inspire crops that last FOREVER and never chafe or 1 haircut I could honestly skip because my hair is always a mess pulled back in the winter
  • $12 = 1 yoga class at Laughing Lotus or 1 cheap-o manicure (tip not included)
  • $100= marathon race entry or Starbucks coffee 5 days a week (thank goodness I don’t drink coffee!)

This is what goes through my head when I’m budgeting every month for my fitness. As I get older and as my disease starts to make itself known in my everyday life, I am now more aware than ever how important it is for me to take good care of myself and make the investment in my physical health FIRST.

Cross training is a must. Flywheel class > boozy night on the town

Drinking, eating out, going to the movies and gorging on unhealthy snacks, these things don’t usually make me feel better. There’s a time and a place for them, but when they become the priority, I know I’ve lost my grip on what’s important in my life. My health, my happiness, my well-being have to come first. For me, that means I make lunch so I can afford Flywheel, yoga and a gym membership during the winter. My toenails are pretty bare throughout the winter so I can get those new pair of running shoes that I need. I invest in the right running clothes that will last because that just makes good sense.

And your time. Your time is so valuable and scarce. How do you spend it? What gets top priority?

Like I said, there’s a balance. But if you find yourself making time for your favorite sitcom or to catch up on your TiVo and not for your daily workout, don’t you think it’s something to re-evaluate? I do.

What do you give up so you can be the best, healthiest you? What aren’t you willing to give up? Tell me about it in the comments!

Now go out and run!

 

 

…By New Year’s Day 2012

Confession: I hate New Year’s resolutions. I have never set one. I don’t like the idea that there’s one day of the year when people are supposed to start something. I get that some people need the start date to start anything, but I am going to propose something radical.

Start today.

Start now.

So that by New Year’s Day 2012, you have already accomplished something. Instead of:”I will start (insert New Year’s resolution) on January 1, 2012″ try this on for size: “I will be doing/have completed (insert goal) by January 1, 2012.”

It’s much more powerful to have an end goal date than a start goal date. Procrastinators (ie. most of us out there) get this. You will work much harder if you have a deadline than if you have just a starting date and an open timeline.

Why start now?

Why not?

The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year for people young and old. Money, travel, family drama, work, end-of-year job stuff, seasonal depression, holiday food, office parties…the list of potentially nightmare-ish scenarios goes on and on. Why not set a goal during this crazy time and do something good for yourself?

Need more of this

I will…

have run every day since Thanksgiving…(STREAK!)

be taking a yoga class twice a week…

be running 7:30 miles for my long runs…

finish one non-school book…

take one Flywheel class a week…

turn over my wardrobe and clean out my closet…

race hard one race…

By New Year’s Day 2012!

There are a lot more sweaty Flywheel classes in my future!

Not very lofty goals, but goals nonetheless. I challenge you to start now and not wait for midnight on New Year’s Eve to decide to start something. Nothing will ever live up to the moment when Billy Crystal runs up to meet Meg Ryan and tell her he wants to spend the rest of his life with her in When Harry Met Sally.

It’s never that climactic, so let’s stop putting expectations on that one day and do it now. Don’t think to hard about it, just do it.

What are you going to achieve by New Year’s Day 2012? I want to know! Tell me all about it!

Now go out and run!

The Stretch Question

Is it better to stretch before, after or during workouts?

Ahhhh…to stretch or not to stretch, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the minds of fitness addicts everywhere to stretch at all in order to avoid suffering a the slings and arrows of hamstring misfortune.

You can take the girl out of the theater, but you can’t take the theater out of the girl, ya’ll.

Back to the question and my answer.

After or after warm-up, unless it is active stretching. I never stretch before I run.

Two types of stretching: Active and Static. Active stretching is the kind that happens while moving (think yoga) and static is the standing still and stretching. Active stretching involves flexing and extending the muscles while moving in various directions, allowing for increased blood flow and, in turn, further extension of the muscle fibers. Static stretching has its place, but only after your blood flow has been increased via a mile or so warm-up.

Why?

Well, stretching muscles that aren’t “warm” (ie. your blood flow and heart rate haven’t been increased for any period of time–walking doesn’t usually do it) doesn’t allow for increased flexibility. In fact, yanking at “cold” muscles will likely do the opposite of stretching them and they probably won’t lengthen out the way you’d like them to do. Even more of a bummer, the effects are short-lived and don’t increase flexibility beyond a few seconds or minutes at the most.

Static stretching is ok, too, but only under certain circumstances. You want to have started to sweat at least a little bit before you start any kind of stretching. Warm up for a mile or so and then take 10-15 minutes to get your stretch on while your muscles are still warm. I find that after a long, hard run (like the marathon this weekend!), static stretching is really all I have energy for. It MUST be done while you’re still warm, though, and before your muscle fibers have a chance to shorten and adhere to one another post-workout. You have about a 10 minute window where you can get the most benefit out of stretching post-workout.

Active stretching, like in yoga class or in a dance warm-up, involves constant movement in a variety of directions that get your heart rate up and both flex and extend each of your muscles groups over the course of about 15-30 minutes. This can be used as a warm-up to a run or a cool down from a run. For example, running to a yoga class is a great way to get your workout on and then lengthen those muscles long-term. Making this a regular (weekly) part of your fitness routine will provide more flexibility in your muscles and joints and help prevent injury.

In short, stretching is good, but you’ve got to make sure your body is prepared for it. At least, that’s my opinion of how to get a good stretch on.

Now go out and run!

Know Thy Self

As a personal trainer, my job often entails helping individuals lose weight, start a fitness routine, or reach a personal fitness goal, among other things. One of the problems I usually come across (especially in Manhattan!) is that overly-ambitious starter.

You know these people. After a long hiatus from the gym or never having ever worked out before, they come out of the gates full blast, ready for everything. They sign up for a month of boot camp classes, 3 days a week of workouts with me, promise to run 5 days a week and double down with yoga every other day.

That’s a lot of working out, even for a seasoned veteran. But no, the overly-ambitious starter is gung-ho and ready to go.

And a three weeks later, they drop right off my radar and are never to be heard from again.

You see, these people don’t know themselves at all. Not their fitness selves, anyway. You have to start with the truth about you, about your schedule, about your goals and about what you’re ready to commit to in the fitness world. Without honest answers to the following questions, you will not have a successful fitness routine.

  1. What do I like to do for exercise?
  2. What do I need to do for exercise?
  3. How many days a week and hours a day can I commit to working out?
  4. Do I prefer to work out alone or in groups?
  5. What are my fitness goals?

I guide people through these questions and then we come up with a fitness routine that they can stick to in the long run, not the short term. I also find that they are far more successful if I start slowly and add on as we go along. Usually, every 3-4 weeks I try to make a change to their fitness routine. I add a class, provide a really challenging high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout in our sessions, or change their cardio routine just enough to keep them challenged.

The point is, you can’t expect your life to change overnight. If you have a new baby, you’re probably not going to be able to work out at the same intensity or for the same amount of time that you did pre-baby. You’re tired. Give yourself a break. Maybe workout twice a day for only 25 minutes each so that you aren’t trying to squeeze a full 45-50 minute workout in when you’re also breastfeeding. Do you hate to run? Don’t do it. Swim, walk, cycle. Does working out in a class setting deter you from going to the gym? Get your sweat on one-on-one with a trainer or grab PX90 videos and do it at home.

Know thy self and work with what you got. Set yourself up for success, not failure.

Now go out and run!

Fitness News Fridays

Hey everybody! Today I am meeting up with one of my fabulous lululemon athletica friends to work on my personal goals. JB got me started on setting goals a few years ago (we have them listed on a legal notepad on our desk and we check them off as we complete them one by one) and I have learned to love it. I used to hate it because I was afraid of failing. But, as we all know, failure is just another opportunity to succeed disguised as a really crappy day.

In honor of today being a goal-setting day, I decided to check one thing off of my goal list this morning: Barry’s Bootcamp. One of my favorite New Yorker things to do is try new workouts in the city and Barry’s has been on my list since it opened in Chelsea a few months ago. I took a class with the very fabulous Keoni Hudoba this morning and had a BLAST! We did a Full Body class that alternated between treadmill intervals and light weight-training. I love this kind of workout and I love it even more doing it with a whole class full of people. Group suffering! I highly recommend you try it out if you find yourself in NYC. I will definitely be adding it to my workout routine.

But there’s more than that happening in the health and fitness world this week! Here’s what you might have missed:

  • Deena Kastor has some words of encouragement for you. She’s just the best.
  • It’s always sad when a young person dies, especially when it’s from a sports-related injury. The question I ask myself is: Football is a rough sport. Don’t the athletes and their parents take some responsibility for playing/letting their child play a rough sport and risking injury? My baby brother, The Golden Child, played football in college and I love the sport. It’s a tough discussion to have in light of this and many other tragedies.
  • Don’t feel bad. I can’t do a head stand either. Probably for all of these reasons and more.
  • What’s the “BEST” exercise? Whatever one you will do consistently, I say.
  • Kourage Athletics is a company owned and operated by Kenyans making running clothes. Pretty cool.
  • The CDC and FDA want to give food “star” like movies or restaurants based on nutrition to make choosing good for you food a no-brainer. Thoughts?
  • Is there a “genetically determined level of preferred energy expenditure?” this study asks.

…And finally, if you missed them, here are two reviews of our BRICK workout from last weekend. I, for one, am glad these gals had a good enough time to write about it 🙂 Thanks, ladies! If you missed our workout last weekend, we’re on for a second one by popular demand on Saturday, October 29th. Come on down!

Happy Friday, everyone! Is anyone racing this weekend or all we all tapering? I have a 20 miler on Sunday so look for me all over Manhattan if you’re out for a run. The weather is perfect and there’s no better time of year to lace up your kicks and…

…go out and run!