Category Archives: health and fitness

clean eating, fitness, healthy lifestyle

Why Five Minutes Makes Me a Better Parent

This article originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

It’s overwhelming, this whole motherhood thing. I think back to the days of answering only to myself, and doing things only when I felt like it… I don’t necessarily miss those days, but I’d give a large sum of money for a day or two like that every once in a while.

When I get up in the morning, it’s usually to the sounds of (at least) one of the kids. Often, it’s the jabbering of my youngest, playing happily in his crib, knowing I’ll come and get him soon. Those days are so nice. I can go to the bathroom, wash my face, and drink a little water before I start the diaper change and breakfast hustle. But other days, I hear stomping on the stairs, drawers opening and closing, or even cries of, “He hit me!” or something similar. As you can imagine, that’s not quite as pleasant at start. Some days just begin in a more relaxing way than others.

I find myself, on difficult days, craving a moment to myself. That could be almost any sort of moment… for instance, I love the grocery store. I could take a mile-long grocery list to the store, alone, ideally with a cappuccino, and it would be the perfect hour: super productive, not a waste of time, but relaxing, and also delicious if I ended up with that fancy drink. Just to have that bit of time to myself to regroup is my biggest desire in a hectic day. I suppose that’s how the memes about moms eating chocolate while locked in the bathroom are born. Boy, can I relate.

But actually taking the minute to myself doesn’t happen as much as needing it does. If I end up – for whatever reason – pushing through my need for a break, I’ll just end up back feeling crazed again in another half an hour. If I don’t take the moment I need to center myself, zap my coffee and take a big swig, or sit down and zone out for a minute or five. I’m so driven by productivity and “getting things done so that I can relax later” that I rarely let myself take a few minutes for myself before the to-do list is finished.

I do know one thing, though. I can prevent the feelings of stress and anxiety from getting worse (and sometimes break that cycle entirely, if I’m lucky) by taking that time I need for myself sooner. Need a breather? Take one. Need to just sit down for a few minutes? Do it. Need three minutes to calm your brain and scroll through Instagram? That’s just fine. There are very few things on my “list” that won’t still be there in five minutes – including the kids. A mental break is just as important as a physical one, but sometimes I can’t pull my brain out of the frenzy unless I pull my body out of it, too. Sometimes, I even leave the house… I step out to the back porch, or walk to get the mail. Sunshine and fresh air are an immediate shock to my system when it’s bogged down by detailed-oriented tasks and grabby hands that need me. The way my home is set up, the kids are usually in the room that leads to the porch, and it’s full of windows, so I’m not exactly leaving them unattended. But I’m getting out of the situation enough to hear birds instead of the arguing, or to see sun and trees instead of the pile of laundry I was about to get to. Sometimes, even sitting down with the kids and watching Octonauts is a break. It interrupts their cycle of crazy when I redirect them to something else, and it interrupts my cycle of “can’t slow my roll” when I get in there for a snuggle.

So, if you’re like me, sometimes (often?) wound up tightly, pushing yourself through those moments of anxiety or frustration in the sake of thinking you can handle it – or worse, for the sake of productivity – then give yourself a break. Take that minute, or 5, or 10 that you need. Do whatever you need to do to find the time, sooner rather than later, to let yourself unwind. Drink your coffee while it’s still hot. Sit down to chat or snuggle with your child before you get started on the dishes. Sneak that candy bar in the bathroom! There’s no shame in the game of saving your own sanity. You do something for you, mama, and don’t feel bad about it.

RACE DAY!

Y’all! I finally ran the race! I got up early, ate a healthy breakfast, got there on time, managed to poop beforehand (fellow runners, you know how important that is) and CRUSHED it. My goal was to finish within two and a half hours… and I finished under two hours! My typical pace while training (on my long runs anyway) had been 9:45-10 minutes per mile. Almost exactly in that window. So I figured I’d be slower on those last couple of miles, or need to walk a little bit, or whatever. But y’all, I didn’t walk at all, I didn’t stop to pee, and I only grabbed the Gatorade twice (you know, so I didn’t die). My jitters went away pretty quickly and I got into the flow quicker than I thought. I had my two energy goos (we might talk later about how those things make me gag but they’re super necessary) earlier than normal – one at mile 3ish and one at mile 7ish – which I think was helpful. I usually wait for the first one till mile 5 or 6, so I was afraid it wouldn’t last me till the end. But it did! Can I tell you my favorite part about the whole race?

Community.

Lots of runners just did their thing. Or they ran with people they’d probably been training with. Or they just rambled on (that Led Zeppelin song was on my playlist, by the way) through those miles without much thought for anything. Or maybe they were thinking a lot. Who knows. I myself was jamming to my music, praising God because the rain held off, and praying that my knees wouldn’t die at mile 10 like they sometimes seem to want to do. But I was near this one guy the whole race, who I found out at mile 11 had just turned 30, and just proposed to his girlfriend/fiancee (who was also running the race) and so his friends were stationed every couple of miles with signs and shouts of congratulations/happy birthday. It was actually quite a contagious amount of fun, and so I got caught up in the happy. He was also acting as my “pacer” because he was going a little faster than I usually went on my training runs, but not so fast that it was unreasonable to keep up with him. So anyway, at mile 11, his buddy come on and started running with him, realized I was close by, and started telling me that story.

Another gal who I realized was going our same pace was close by as well, and she noticed I was starting to fade, but trying my darnedest to keep up with them. So she started looking over her shoulder for me, and saying, “Come on! One more mile! You can do it! Last hill!” every time I fell a few paces behind. I had my own built-in cheering section, y’all. Runners know how to do life together.

I did most of my training alone, and so I expected to race alone. But I didn’t. I raced with hundreds of strangers, all of whom were pretty cool. It was neat to see everyone’s style: some raced in tutus, some in basically nothing at all, some decked out in shirts that had their running troupe’s name or a scripture that resonated with them. Some, like me, had jackets tied around their waists because it was freezing when we started. Some had iPod earbuds, or huge Beats By Dre (is that what they’re called?) that I don’t think I could’ve worn for the whole time.

OH! I almost forgot my other favorite thing. At mile 5, and again at mile 10, there was a bagpiper! WHO DOES THAT?! If you are reading this and happen to play the bagpipes, please attend the next race nearest you, so that the people can enjoy your pipes. Seriously. It was awesome.

Because I ran way faster than I thought, I finished earlier than I told Hubby I would. I told him about 2:15, and I finished at 1:56. Crazy. So naturally he and the kids were parking and hadn’t made it to the finish line yet… but they did hang around for the donut truck, taco truck, and beer vendors. Every race I run is gonna be a beer run now, by the way. I finished tenth in my gender/age group, which made me really proud. It’s not award-getting, but I was REALLY stoked to have done as well as I did. I definitely will be racing again, and hoping just to get the same time. I know that was a PR for the books, so I won’t set my standards TOO high.

I’m just so proud that I had to share with y’all. Thanks for reading, and for all the encouragement I got along the way. Half-marathon, you were pretty good to me. See you again soon. Real soon? Maybe in the fall.

Running More. And More. 

So. As you know, I’m training for a half marathon. The one I had originally chosen is apparently very hilly, and also it’s a little soon for me to feel great about running it. So I’m still training, but I think I’m doing a different race. Last week, I did some speed work (sprints in the wind are basically the worst) and this past week, my goal was to get really good rest. It’s not going well. Every member of our family is suffering from a “mini cold”. It’s not that big of a deal during the day, but when we lay down, the mucus is out of control, and no one is sleeping that well.

Evidence of my “windy” miles.

Naturally, I’m more tired than usual since babes are waking and I’m not getting quality sleep because of it. But I’m pushing through! I got 4.25 miles in yesterday afternoon while everyone napped. I’ve still been eating pretty well, and I’ve had less coffee than normal this week (I subbed it for green tea, which has HUGE health benefits). Today was definitely a cheat day-St. Patrick’s Day meant Hubby was playing a lot, coupled with me trying to work a lot but also trying to see him play- it was a lot of on the go. I only had one “real” meal today, at 3pm no less. But at least it was healthy?

Post-workout selfie with D since he came along Tuesday morning.

So here is my accountability. I am up to almost 8 miles, with a hopeful 8 miles in either tomorrow or Sunday (likely whichever isn’t freezing cold). I’ve been trying SO HARD to keep up with my workouts and good food, so hopefully the last five miles in the training will come easily! Wish me luck!

10 Thoughts I Have On a Long Run

 

Every time I run in the morning, my steps “goal” is achieved in short order.

 

As a busy, part-time working, mostly-SAHM of three, and a fairly recent long-distance runner, I think a lot about random things while running. I do a lot of over-analyzing, some to-do list building, and some praying. I mean, I’m training for a half-marathon and that takes a lot of time of feet hitting pavement. All that considered, here are a few things that go through my head often while I’m out on a long run.

1. Do I know someone close by? I need to pee. Having three kids has pretty much wrecked my bladder. A friend recently recommended Kegels. I told her I thought that was some bullshit.

2. This is my fastest run ever! This is rarely true. Typically it’s just a bare-minimum pace, combined with a train of thought that’s made me feel like time has passed more quickly.

3. This is my slowest run ever! This is more likely than #2. However, it’s also not always true. Sometimes I’m actually running quickly, but the song I am listening to is too slow. I feel like my feet aren’t hitting the pavement quickly enough.

4. Do I need a snack before I run any farther? I have learned that if I haven’t eaten enough calories (or the right calories) before my run – since I often run in the morning – I’m going to get super tired after mile 4 or so. I’ve been packing some light snack options in that tiny pocket in my leggings. You know, something I can eat while running, without feeling the need to vomit afterwards. This is either a milestone of reaching a distance that feels really far for my body, or else a milestone of being 31 and too tired for this mess.

5. Haven’t I heard this song already? I only take my phone with me to listen to music. I use my FitBit for tracking, and make my iPhone an iPod. I don’t have many songs downloaded on there, and so when I put it on shuffle, and run for an hour, it’s actually possible that I start hearing things a second time. But I’m never quite sure… because what if that was yesterday? My memory’s going.

6. But seriously, when do the park bathrooms open? It’s March, it’s not that cold, and I’d like the bathrooms at my neighborhood running park to open up so that I can pee between mile 2 and 3, and again between mile 5 and 6. It’s a thing. I need to pee. All the time. (Let’s just say it’s because I’m super hydrated.)

7. Tomorrow I’m totally running 8 miles. Or however many miles I think is way farther than today. Because today isn’t a good day for it, but tomorrow will be. Right now, I’m a little tired.

8. Please Lord, don’t let me bite the dust. Inevitably, I get super tired on the stretch just before the homestretch. When I’m almost back to my house, I’m all, “Sweet! Just another half mile!” But just before then, I’m all, “Why did I ever let myself run for this many minutes in a row? I clearly am not hydrated or energized enough for this. I made a horrible decision and I’m going to chip my teeth on the sidewalk when I fall.” But I’m definitely not being over-dramatic about the situation.

9. These leggings are totally too big. I usually run in leggings, especially this time of year before it’s too warm. Recently, I’ve been having issues finding leggings that don’t ride up, or slide down, or twist, or keep me too warm, or let too much wind in. I have several different brands, and they’re all fine, but not amazing. Any tips for me, the OCD running queen?

10. I must be crazy to think I can do this. A half-marathon is 13.1 miles. The farthest I’ve gone recently is 7.2 miles. It seems I have a ways to go. I MUST BE CRAZY, Y’ALL.

But hey! Running makes me feel good, look good, and be able to talk like a crazy exercise freak with a lot of other people, including strangers. Cheers to the insane runners!

Currently

It’s that time again… the beginning of yet another month. How is it possible that March is here already? I can’t believe how unseasonably warm it’s been here in NC, and the fact that my allergies are already acting up. But at least I’ve been wearing my Chacos and enjoying some much-needed sunshine! (Well, except for right this second, as it’s beginning to cloud over and look like that rain they’ve forecasted for the evening.)

Anyway, it’s another Currently link-up with Anne in Residence, and this month we’re joined by Carrie at A Stylish Fit as our co-host! Thanks, ladies! Here’s what I’m currently up to…

Watching || This Is Us. I was late to the party, and am still not caught up to the most recent episode, but I’m REALLY enjoying it. It’s fun to see Mandy Moore back around, and I’m loving the dynamics of the triplets as “grown ups”. I still won’t say this is the best show I’ve ever seen, but I truly do enjoy it.


Eating || VERY healthy. As I mentioned last week, I’m doing a fitness challenge and training for a half marathon. This means food as fuel as not as an indulgence, so I’m overhauling my diet to accommodate. For instance, our group is doing “meatless Monday” and so I didn’t have meat at all on Monday! Good thing Hubby is also on board. 

Saying || prayers over my half-marathon training, and my knee. Last night I did something stupid, and got my knee bashed from the side. Naturally, I immediately freaked out thinking I’d torn my meniscus or something crazy, iced it, and took ibuprofen and rested for the rest of the night. This morning, I woke up feeling MUCH better, with a bruise in the place of impact, but there is some residual tightness and soreness I’m trying to rest and ice and anti-inflame again today.

Wearing || work-out attire pretty much all day, every day. I’ve never really been one who likes to do this, but it does help me get the workouts in, motivation-wise. AND there’s no point in showering early, drying my hair, putting on mascara, and dressing nicely when I know I’m going on a run in two hours. It’s going to be easier for me to try to knock out the workouts as early in the day as possible so that I can feel like I “got ready” afterwards. I feel a little more like myself when I’m not dressed like a bum all day.

Posting || a little more very soon, hopefully. My Big Jesus (the site I had been writing for weekly) is relaunching as Everyday Exiles soon, and then I’ll be back to writing a lot more and posting about it. I’ve also been featured on Perfection Pending, and will have another post up on her site this week!

Well, what’s going on with you currently? Leave a comment, or link up with us and share!

When you’re about to get REAL serious about running. 

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve signed up for a fitness challenge and I can’t decide whether I’m so excited I could jump out of my skin, or I’m so nervous I could… um… have to run to the bathroom. Like I’ll be doing in the middle of every workout because CHILDBIRTH KILLS BLADDERS.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you about where I am right now in my fitness journey.

I’ve decided to train for a half marathon. That’s 13.1 miles, in case you’ve somehow never driven behind that annoying person who’s got a sticker on their rear windshield. (And yes, if I am able to complete a half marathon, I will forever be that annoying SUV in front of you with the very same sticker. Because DANG THAT IS FAR.)

When I decided to train, I had been running 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week, plus at least one other weight-based workout per week, and probably some yoga. That was a little less than a month ago. During this month that I’ve thought about really getting my game on and running until my legs fall off, I started back up talking to a running friend of mine, who coincidentally leads a mom’s fitness group here in town called Stroller Strength (here’s the link if you’re local!). Melissa is amazing, encouraging and inspiring, and when I realized it was challenge time (I’ve done three of these babies before) I jumped out of my skin with excitement and anticipation.

There are definitely chemicals released when you work out (Endorphins, I love you.) and I think I released them immediately when I got on board with this challenge. Here are a few things that are involved with the challenge:
1. Friends. I realized that some friends I’d made during my stints with SS in the past were still going, and I’ve already met some new gals I’m excited to get to know. It’s always more fun when you’re not alone, and accountability makes a HUGE difference when you’ve set a fitness goal you’re trying to actually achieve. Melissa also puts us on goal-based teams, so naturally I’m on a running team, and I’m psyched.
2. Food/Exercise/Water/Rest Log. This baby is DETAILED, and we check up on each other’s logs throughout the 9-week challenge. We also have clean eating weeks (cutting out all processed foods) where we cut even more crap out of our diets for a week at a time. It’s magical (and so hard).
3. Extra workouts. This is everything from regular SS class (boot-camp style weights workout), “fun run” together, yoga, Sculpt class (for toning) and running my booty off on my own time until I achieve my goals. When I’m mid-challenge, I shoot for a workout of some sort every day, even if it’s short, even if it’s not strenuous. Get moving, burn calories and build muscle. Every. Single. Day.
4. Meticulous scheduling. I don’t usually work out at the same time every day. I don’t even work out on the same days a week. But this time, I’ve got a few more things going on if I want to make it to lots of classes and get my miles in. Obviously, the farther I run, the longer it takes, so I have to plan longer and longer into my schedule the farther I am able to go. Also, one of the classes is on a morning that I work, so I have committed to making it to the other two classes a week EVERY WEEK to make the most of them. Perk: I can bring the kids to class if I need to. Best thing about SS, ever. I’m gonna have to start sleeping in my workout clothes to save time.

I already feel like I’m in a pretty good place, fitness-wise, because I eat fairly healthy most of the time, I’m already working out regularly, and I’m enjoying this healthy lifestyle instead of being miserable in it like some folks are (shout out to you guys, because it’s tough to do it when you don’t like it). But my goals are steep. They’re things I’ve never done before, and that’s scary. Here goes…

Goal (9 weeks from now): Register for and run (read: survive) a half marathon. I will be adding a little bit about upper body strength to this, because that’s a separate goal that won’t necessarily just come alongside my runner’s training.

Halfway goal (so 4.5 weeks from now): Survive ten miles. In a row. I know right. That’s WAY more than half a half marathon. (Say THAT five times fast!)

For the past couple of months, my “goals” when I go out to run are to make sure every single mile is under 10 minutes, and to make sure my first two miles are under 9:30 or so. Those are loose goals, and I don’t always keep to them. But today at our baseline weigh-ins/stat recording, my timed mile was 8:31 and my 400m “sprint” was 1:39. I already started faster than I thought I would, but I think that has to do with being on an actual track. I typically run in my neighborhood, which is hilly, so my miles aren’t as accurate. I’m going to have to adjust my perspective on timing when I’m running on a track, apparently.

In other semi-related news, today while grocery shopping at Costco, I happened upon ONE LAST FITBIT Charge 2 in my size. It was destiny. I’ve been looking at those, Garmin running watches, and the Apple Watch, and just hadn’t decided what to get until today. So now that I’ve got a tool to use, I’m going to get used to it (and get it used to me) and be obsessed with it for the next nine weeks at LEAST. You’re welcome.

SO! Now that you’ve gotten a complete update on how I’m working on my fitness (cue the song that will be in your head all day) you can say you’re keeping me accountable. Is anyone else working on their fitness? Tell me your goals! Tell me your process! I’m open to suggestions and can’t wait to hear if you’re committed to a health goal, also!

The Best Ever Pancake Recipe for Moms Who Aren’t Chefs

 I make hot breakfast for my kids almost every single morning. There are very few exceptions – mostly because I set a particular precedent and now they won’t eat cold cereal. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Anyway, because of this fact, I’ve gotten really creative with the breakfasts I make, specifically in the pancake department. I found that I could hide almost anything in a pancake, in a good way. I make a new-fangled pancake batter with some crazy ingredients, I scramble a couple of eggs to go with them, and serve a side of fruit. BOOM! Healthy breakfast, please and thank you.

If you want to know my pancake secrets, here are a few suggestions.

  1. Start with Bisquick (or whatever type pancake mix you prefer). I like Bisquick because it doesn’t have a ton of sugar in it to begin with, but it’s a good base so you don’t have to add things like baking powder or salt. I typically include the ingredients it suggests for pancake-making (a couple of eggs and some milk), then I flavor it with whatever mood I’m in that day.
  2. Add in vanilla extract. I ALWAYS dribble in some vanilla extract to the batter. No excuses not to. I make my own (well, my mom makes it, but I help!) so it’s extra special, but if you’re not a creative guru like my mama, regular vanilla will do.
  3. Get some fruit. Usually, I opt for whatever is overripe/soft/abounding/neglected in our kitchen. Banana works well, but we also like blueberry and strawberry, or a combination of those. Mash it or puree it, and stir it in. Do it before the milk, because it often means you need less milk, because it’s juicy.
  4. Grab some flaxseed. Or chia seed. Or almond flour. Or whatever power powder you have around. Even ginger or turmeric could hide if you have a careful hand. You can likely sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of the powders (or a teaspoon or two of the spices) without it getting noticed by kids or husbands.
  5. If you’re feeling generous, dump in some chocolate chips. Or if you’re like my family, Craisins. Sprinkles could also be fun if you’re celebrating something! Finely-chopped nuts are good, too, if your family is okay with nuts and likes a little crunch (Banana walnut pancakes, I’m looking at you.)
  6. Mix in some peanut butter or cocoa powder for a new spin on flavored pancakes. Peanut butter adds protein, of course, and makes them wonderfully thick and fluffy. Cocoa powder gives them a chocolatey tone without a ton of sugar… although I find that you need to add a little sugar (if you’re using Bisquick especially), honey, or other sweetener to combat the slight bitterness. I typically go for coconut sugar.
  7. Shape them like Mickey Mouse, snowmen, or caterpillars if you’re feeling fancy, and top them with some pure maple syrup. More flavor than “pancake syrup” (sorry, Aunt Jemima) and no artificial ingredients!

Pancakes please kids almost every time you make them, so I hide all sorts of goodies in there and call them healthy. I’ve stopped measuring things entirely and just go by looks. If the batter’s consistency looks like it’ll cook up on a pan, your breakfast won’t fall flat. BA-DUM, TSSS! (My husband told me that would be funny. If you didn’t laugh, it’s his fault.)

In case you’re wondering, this is just another post about my love affair with breakfast food.