Get fit · Healthy living · Running

Running Update: What’s New and Next

I ran a marathon in 2014. It was hands-down one of the proudest moments of my life. I worked so hard and overcame so much to get to that finish line, and I know without a doubt that I left a piece of myself at Fort Benning on the Avenue of Flags.

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And then…I stopped running. That piece of me that I left or lost during the marathon training cycle was too big and I couldn’t find it within myself to lace up my shoes and even go for a short jog. So I didn’t. For two and a half years.

During the last few years, I tried a bunch of other activities: spin, yoga, barre, and even an aerial silks class. I loved all of them, and using ClassPass (back when they still had their unlimited option) let me take tons of classes and get back into working out without feeling the pressure to run again.

Recently, I’ve pretty much been purely doing yoga 4-6 times per week. I love power yoga, but I do miss the variety that I got from ClassPass. And then I got the opportunity to get guaranteed entry to the Peachtree Road Race through Northside Hospital.

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My first Peachtree in 2013

The Peachtree is one of my favorite races. It’s definitely not a race where I go for a PR, and I’ve always been able to just run and enjoy myself along the course. That’s why it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start running again. I’m taking it slow right now. Just 3-4 times per week at whatever pace feels easy for somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes. Over the next couple of months, I’m planning to start stepping that up to 30-45 minutes 3 times during the week with a 5-6 mile long run on the weekend. I’ll still incorporate yoga with two power classes during the week, and a gentle/yin/power combo of some kind on the weekends.

I don’t want to push myself too hard and keep myself from learning to love running again. I really want to rediscover my inner fire and inner passion for it, even though I’ll always be a mid-to-back-of-the-packer. I know that the girl that used to run for fun is still in there, and I can’t wait to meet her again.

Have you ever run the Peachtree? What is your favorite race to run every year?

Healthy living

Seven days raw vegan

I went vegetarian in late 2013, and spent the next two and a half years playing with a mostly vegan diet. After attending Asheville’s VegFest last year (it was awesome, and you should absolutely go if you get the chance), I took the plunge and went 100% vegan.

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Eating banh mi at VegFest with my vegan soulmate

Now, I want to experiment with a high-raw diet.

So what exactly is a high-raw diet? According to Google, a high-raw diet is classified as “eating more raw food than cooked food.” I have always felt phenomenal when I have eaten lots of fresh fruits, smoothies, veggies, and salads. I want to see how good I can feel if I really try to make raw fruits and veggies the central part of my diet.

I’m not pledging to go 100% raw for any lengthy period of time; after all, a lot of my blog is about balance. However, I am going to try to go completely raw for one full week (except for a cup of coffee in the morning, because I’m just not willing to give that up).

What’s the point of going totally raw for a week? Mostly, I want to reset my taste buds and see what I like and don’t like about raw recipes and meals. Then, I can reintroduce whole plant foods back into my diet as I see fit.

I know this seems extreme to a lot of people, but I’m really excited to see how I feel, how I budget for this dietary shift, and what it does for my body and my energy.

Have you ever tried a diet other people saw as extreme? Have you ever eaten a raw vegan meal? If you have any good recipes, leave them in the comments!

Get fit · Healthy living

New me, new blog?

Someday I’ll manage to write a blog post more than once every 2-3 years. Hopefully now is that time.

I quit blogging in 2014 because I didn’t feel like I had anything left to say. I had gained weight back, gotten burned out with running, and had no more motivation to eat healthy. I was backsliding, and going back to school and taking on a new job were much bigger priorities in my life than my health. I had no balance in my life, which meant I didn’t feel like I had anything worthwhile to contribute to the blog-o-sphere anymore.

But over the last year, that’s changed. I took newer new job fundraising for an organization that I absolutely love. I joined my local Junior League to make friends, meet mentors, and get more involved in my community. I went vegan, and started regularly working out again. I will finally graduate from college in six weeks. Somewhere along the line, I became a morning person and made yoga an important part of my weekly routine. I’m closing on my first home next week, and have made amazing friends who have become a second family. I went overseas for the first time ever. And I finally started running again.

It’s been a hell of a year. I finally feel like I have something to say again. Not just about health or fitness, but about figuring things out and learning how to be a functional adult. How credit scores and yoga, hiking and public speaking, and smoothies and networking all combine to create a balanced and fulfilling life.

I’m still figuring things out. But I do know I’m ready to write again.

Healthy living

Missing it

Oh, uh, hey there, Internet! Haven’t talked to you in almost a year….

Around this time last year, I found myself really not wanting to blog anymore. And since this whole blogging thing is supposed to be fun, I quit. I put all kinds of completely unrealistic pressure on myself to produce awesome content on an almost daily basis. I also learned that isn’t possible for me.

I’ve been doing a lot of work in the past year on finding balance in my life. I’ve changed jobs, I’ve gone back to school, and I’m still running. Plus, I still try to fit a social life in there somewhere. It’s a lot to juggle.

Recently, however, I’ve gotten the urge to write again. Not all the time. Not about everything. But I do finally miss blogging.

So, I’m back. With lots of new stuff to talk about. So here’s a quick update on what’s new in my life.

School:

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After two and half years away from the classroom, I have finally decided to return to school to finish my Bachelor’s degree in Human Services. I’m starting slowly—I took one easy class over the summer, and I’m just taking two classes this fall. But it’s going really well so far, and I have a new desire to learn and gratitude for my education that wasn’t there before.

Work:

I did it. I left the animal shelter and all of the adorable, sweet, cats and dogs there. Sort of. I still volunteer at both shelter locations for a total of 8-10 hours a week. I have moved on to another nonprofit, this time in cancer research and patient advocacy. In the shelter, I worked on the operations side, so to work on the fundraising side of a nonprofit is definitely a new and exciting experience.

Running:

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I ran my second half marathon last November, and my third one in March. I also ran my second Peachtree Road Race and the Race for the Cure this summer. Oh, and I’m training for my first marathon on November 8th in Columbus, GA! Training has had a lot of setbacks, so I’m a little nervous, but I have no doubt that my awesome running partner and I will get through it!

I’ve been on a huge learning curve, trying to adjust to a million changes at one time. But things seem to finally be settling into a rhythm, and I’m inspired to write again.

I don’t know how often I’ll post on here; I just know that I want to blog again. But it’s good to be back.

Healthy living

Accountability and balance

Accountability. It’s not something I’ve had much of recently in regards to my work outs or  my dieting. I’ve been going it alone for about three years now, and I’m used to only having to be accountable to myself. And I accept the lamest excuses in the world.

I know that for me to get everything in, I have to get up early and hit my workout first thing. I know that I need to eat healthfully and focus on the quality of food I’m putting into my body. I know that I need to be making sleep and time for myself a priority. But I’m not.

I feel like I just can’t get it together.

The funny thing is, I’ve recently felt really productive at work. I’ve been sidelined the past week from being under the weather, but other than that, I’m genuinely happy going into work most days right now. Work is not the issue. Letting work tip everything else out of balance? That has become a little bit of an issue.

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This is how I’ve felt recently.

The real issue, however, is me. I let my busy schedule become an excuse for not taking care of myself. I miss sleep, I eat “convenient” meals, and I skip workouts in that name of “me time”. I don’t know about you, but when I sacrifice the YouTube zombie time and actually use my me time to do something good for myself, whether it be running, reading a book, cooking, or spending a few hours with a friend, my life seems to almost effortlessly fall into a natural rhythm.

So why can’t I pull it together and do what I know I need to do? Accountability, man. I’ve got to find ways to remind myself to keep the appointments and promises I make with myself.

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Apparently this is what a balanced life is supposed to look like: energy directed equally to all the important areas of your life. Ahem. Maybe if you gave career half the wheel, social/fun and friends/family/community a quarter, and smushed everything else into the remaining quarter you might have a more accurate representation of what my life looks like right now.

My point in writing this post is to give myself a little more accountability to focus on the neglected areas of my life. I felt awful yesterday, so I went down the the river (less than a mile and a half from my apartment!) and soaked in a little nature. And I snuggled with my foster kitty a whole lot.

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It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Healthy living

Green eyed monsters

It’s so easy to want what other people have.

The body, the house, the car, the husband, the half marathon time, the blog readership, the money, etc. I used to get very stuck in a cycle of “if I can get this, then everything will be perfect.”

Anyone else ever go there?

I get stuck in that cycle far less these days, but it’s still so tempting to compare myself to other people. Especially other women. Why do I do that?

Why is it so easy to focus on everything positive about her and focus on everything negative about me?

I can look at a picture of myself, like it, then keep looking at it until I loathe it.

I’m my own biggest critic. And that leads to me giving up rather than trying because, frankly, I’m terrified of failing. It’s so much easier to blame it on something else in my life. To say that if I had more money, or more time, then everything in my life would just effortlessly fall into place.

Guess what? Time and money are two things I’m not getting more of any time soon.

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Harsh, but probably true.

It really comes down to not wanting to fail. I’m still really, really terrified of failure. Completely petrified.

But each failure is a learning lesson. I’m starting to drill that into my head. Missed my runs this week because I couldn’t drag my butt out of bed? I learned that I only get up when I put my phone on the other side of the room so I have to physically get up. Ate like crap the last two days? Remember to pack lunch the night before. Unhappy with my home décor? I’ve been procrastinating on cheap decorating ideas.

It’s the simple things. These are the things the women I envy do. Most of them work out at 5 am. Most of them have busy lives with jobs, kids, significant others, school, and a bazillion other things. Maybe, just maybe, I can use them as inspiration instead of envy.

Except for running skirts. I’m always going to envy those of you who can pull running skirts off without looking ridiculous.

Healthy living

The 5 am club

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you know that I am not a morning person. I look at people who get up at 5 am to do stuff with amused skepticism. C’mon, you don’t really feel better when you work out before the sun has even thought about coming up, do you?

Well, given that my schedule is now insanely hectic, I’ve come to the unfortunate realization that I’m going to have to join the 5 am club if I want to keep any kind of balance in my life.

Tuesday morning, I started the painful process of a 5 am wake up call. Shocker: I’m a big baby and it wasn’t that bad. As much as I rag on morning people, I do truly enjoy the early morning hours. I just usually enjoy my bed far more.

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Note the super hot I-just-rolled-out-of-bed selfie.

I hit a 5k before 6:15 am and then spent some time getting myself spiritually fit to face the day.

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I liked it so much, I talked myself into doing it again this morning.

Let’s get something straight. I’m not saying that I am thrilled to get out of bed at the crack of dawn. I’m saying once I get up, it’s actually a pleasant way to start my day. I felt much more prepared to tackle my daily tasks by getting in some time just for me first.

Maybe the “morning people” are onto something.

Get fit · Healthy living

Motivations and affirmations

If you follow my on Instagram (carolinedb88), then you’ve probably noticed I’ve been posting a lot of fitness quotes lately. In part, that’s because I’m bored and like exploring hashtags, but it’s also because I’ve found that these silly little phrases and sayings actually really help me stay inspired and motivated to get my fitness on.

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I’m big on competing with myself and trying to improve on what I’ve previously done. I know a lot of people that count of “kills” or people they’ve passed while they’re racing, but that doesn’t work for me. I really have to focus on a new PR, or lifting a heavier weight than I did yesterday. Otherwise I drive myself crazy getting too competitive.

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I love this. It’s incredibly motivating. I’ve blogged before about how I don’t regret the Old Me at all, but I do want to beat her into the ground. I’ve given up so many times, and this little meme is a great reminder to keep going.

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When the Old Me starts talking, she’s the queen of excuses. All day, every day. It keeps me from realizing my full potential. She spoke up this week and I took two extra days off from working out. I still got in three workouts this week, but that’s not what I want to be doing. I want to hit 5 or 6. And that’s not going to happen if I keep making excuses.

If you haven’t noticed already, my motivators tend to be inwardly focused. I don’t really care about having a body like hottie X, or beating runner Y. I care about being the fittest I can be. If that’s a six pack, cool. If my body’s there now, that’s cool too. I care about harder, better, faster, stronger.

Am I doing everything I can to be the best I can be?

What are some quotes you use to motivate yourself?

Is you competition focused on other people or on yourself?

Get fit · Healthy living · Recipe time

Clean(er) eating

I’ve mentioned before that I’m focusing on eating a cleaner, mostly vegetarian diet. I hear it over and over again: “abs may by formed in the gym, but they’re revealed in the kitchen.” So…Wendy’s is bad for showing my six pack? Who’da thunk it?

However, while I know that fast food is not waistline friendly, I’ve relied pretty heavily on highly processed foods for a long time. They tend to be super cheap and convenient, which was very attractive to a brokey like me.

As I’ve changed my focus from quantity of food to quality of food, though, those processed quickie meals don’t make the cut. I’m pretty tired of having absolutely no idea what I’m putting into my body.

Am I going to eat 100% clean 100% of the time? Hell to the no.

But I’m going to eat as clean as I can as often as I can—even if that just means choosing the apple dippers at McDonald’s that day. Whatever the healthiest option is in the situation I’m in is the option I’ll try to take. And sometimes the healthiest option will be to let myself have a treat. After all, I’m so not about depriving myself anymore.

With that said, I’m trying to get my fridge stocked up with healthy foods to make awesome, easy meals. Both of these meals took me less than 10 minutes to throw together and were pretty darn clean and natural.

Meal A:

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  • 2 whole brown eggs
  • 1 100% whole grain (no white flour!) English muffin
  • 2 tbsp all natural peanut butter
  • 1 large clementine
  • coffee with light creamer and raw sugar

Meal B:

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  • 1 breaded chick’n breast from Gardein
  • 1 medium sweet potato, baked in the microwave
  • 1/2 cup boiled edamame in the shell

Serious deliciousness. Because when I get home late at night, I’m not going to spend forever cooking, I need to have easy, healthy, quick options. Otherwise I’m going to say “screw this, I’m eating Thin Mints.” Talk about not waistline friendly.

What are some of your go-to healthy and easy meals?

I go either with meals like the above, or something that’s been cooking in the crock pot all day.

Do you try to eat clean or do you go for convenience?

Eating disorder recovery has made me focus a lot more on what I’m putting into my body versus how much. It’s a much more balanced way for me to approach my eating.

Get fit · Healthy living

Urban oasis

I didn’t used to like the outdoors. It was too cold, or too hot, or too dirty, or too buggy. Lame. My excuses were lame.

These days I love getting active outdoors. I don’t know when that change happened, but I think that getting more comfortable with who I am has made me feel happier and more whole outdoors. Plus, not being able to see how many calories I was burning while exercising used to be super anxiety producing, and now it’s really liberating. I get to focus on just having fun instead of how much longer I have to work out.

The other day, I took a walk down my road with a friend and discovered a hiking trail that starts less than a mile and a half from my house. So of course I had to go back and explore!

Saturday morning I ate a yummy clean breakfast, then headed out the door to get in touch with the natural world. I was walking just after sunrise and it was absolutely stunning.

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One of the cool things about a new hiking trail is not knowing what to expect. You have no idea what the trail is going to be like, and that’s part of the fun. This trail was straight up a huge hill so I spent the next half a mile or so navigating a series of switchbacks that inevitably led to views like this:

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I suddenly didn’t even feel like I was in the city anymore. Awesome. Although I may be a city girl at heart, I love getting quiet time away from the hustle and bustle.

The harder part of the hike for me was the downhill on the other side of the hill. It was still switchbacks, but I definitely had to watch my step! I nearly faceplanted twice. Yes, I am that graceful. Why do you think I didn’t make it as a ballerina?

However, the slower pace and constant vigilance (thanks, Mad-Eye) paid off when I came off the trail and onto this view.

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Um, is this really tucked away in the middle of Atlanta? I’m not telling where…it’s my secret for now. But seriously, I felt like I was somewhere completely different. I walked halfway around the lake before turning around and heading back to my apartment and reality.

But I found my urban oasis.

Do you prefer the city or the country?

I prefer the city, but I do love to escape for a little while, either to the beach or the mountains. It helps me come back to city life with a new perspective.