My First 5k

A few weeks ago, I ran my first 5k. I hate running, I have always hated running, but I wish I was a runner. I made the unfortunate mistake of mentioning this to a runner friend of mine. He has been on me for the last two months about getting out and running and to sign up for a 5k. In an effort to make him leave me alone, I finally signed up and began running several days per week. I prefer to run on a treadmill because it’s easier, but I knew the 5k was going to be outside. Therefore, while training I ran outside one or two days per week. Another two or three days per week, I would run on the treadmill. On the other days, I either walked, did the elliptical, or rested. I loved having low impact days because I have an old knee injury that would sometimes nag at me. Rest days were also very important, especially in the beginning or when I upped my mileage. My muscles were definitely sore. To recover and build my muscles, I made sleep a priority. The body needs to recharge, so giving myself some rest was vital.

I preferred to run in the mornings, so whatever I ate for dinner the night before was my fuel. I stayed away from fried foods and simple carbs which made me feel heavy and a little sick. I also didn’t eat just a boring lettuce salad. If I did, I wouldn’t have enough calories to go as far as I needed to. Delicious complex carbs and protein is what I stuck with. I also included healthy plant fats and vegetables. On the off chance I didn’t get enough food, or the right food, the night before, I would grab a bit of fruit for some energy. A few grapes or a glass of orange juice gave me enough energy for the run.

On my first run I couldn’t do .6 miles without burning out. But I ran 3.1 miles in 33:33. I was very nervous on race day. I arrived early to give myself plenty of time to work myself into a tizzy then calm down and focus on the task at hand. I picked up my packet, got my t-shirt, and pinned my on bib. When pinning, I read the instructions. Mine said it had to be on the front of the body, facing out, right side up. I warmed up using dynamic stretching and smiled at all the cute kids and dogs running around. I also recommend you check out the tents and jam to the music being played to help get you hyped. I didn’t, but I was there alone and too embarrassed to let loose.

When it comes to lining up, I chose the middle. I’m not an expert runner, nor am I complete beginner. I kept my muscles loose so when the race started, my legs were ready. Like most first timers, I went too fast in the beginning and I didn’t rehydrate at the station. I would say those are my two biggest mistakes. Another observation of myself and my personality that I will take into my next race, is I don’t determine the weather or the trail. There were small hills and it was very windy. I let these environmental factors slow me down, when I should have persevered. I was pleased to see the finish line and I pushed myself to finish strong. Tip: when you finish it is good to walk around a bit to let your muscles cool down. Oh and a tip I didn’t know I needed was to remember where you park. I walked around for about as long as my race because I couldn’t find my car in the parking garage.

After the race and I returned home, I ate…a lot…of carbs. I enjoyed my race and I was very proud of myself. I’m also pleased to say my running accountability partner was proud of me, too. So proud in fact, I have just signed up for my first 10k at his insistence. I’m nervous because it’s longer, in the city, and there will be a lot of people there. But I’m going to start training tomorrow and will be ready come race day!

I Hate Running

I want to be a fit chick, but I hate to run. Is it a prerequisite for all fit chicks to be marathon running, yogis? I have the yoga thing, but the running is such a drag! I’ve always wished I were a runner, runners have such great legs. I have…had dancers legs. They’re fine but they tend to be a bit more bulky and less lean. I’d like to have lean, strong legs. So I’ve decided to try running. A couple people at work are runners and they swear by it! They love it, and run several days a week, one runs everyday. After talking with one of them, he said the running isn’t so much fun but the feeling afterward is what you run for. The high you get from all that endorphin rich blood in the brain, I guess is worth the torture. He is pushing me to do a 5k in a couple weeks, but I’m not ready. I can’t run 3 straight miles. I can run 1 straight mile, which I am very proud of. I found this running article that said if you followed their plan for 30 days you would fall in love with running after two weeks. I made it the two weeks–I still hate running. I am surprised by my improvements though. On my first day I was able to run .6 miles, by day seven I was able to run a full mile. I say run, I mean a REALLY slow jog, like turtles on beach slow. Slow and steady wins the race right? I looked at the 5k times from last year for the race my co-worker recommended, and people were finishing them in less than 30 minutes. It takes me 12 minutes to do one mile! I don’t yet have my confidence, and I haven’t been running in a few days. I’m calling it the weather, but I think it’s more my loathing attitude toward the activity.

I guess sometimes you gotta do what you don’t wanna do, right?

Christian Yogi

For the past year or so I have been on a journey of health and fitness. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and realized I was not treating my body with the level of respect it deserves, being a masterpiece of the Father, temple of the Holy Spirit, and worth the Son’s death on a cross. So I began watching what I eat and going to the gym regularly. I have definitely seen some improvements, and I think at the end of time, when I have to give my accounting for what I have done with God’s resources, I hope he finds me a good steward of my body. But this post isn’t really about my entire fitness story, it is about a relatively new aspect of my fitness journey: yoga. I know you are probably thinking, “Can Catholics do yoga?” Well I haven’t read anything that says no, I’ve checked the Scriptures, Catechism, and Vatican writings. I haven’t found anything that says a Catholic cannot do yoga. What I have found is a quote from Pope Francis saying that yoga, among other things, does not lead us to God. My question for that statement is, does my morning commute lead me to God?

It is my opinion, that you get what you put into things. If I spend my morning commute praying a Rosary, contemplating that days readings, or doing an examination of conscience, then I have just baptized my morning commute. I’ve turned it from something dead and uneventful, and turned it into a spiritual expression and devotion to God. In the same way, yoga practiced without Christ in one’s heart, is a waste of an hour. I use the word baptize purposefully. We are all dead to sin before we are baptized. But by God’s grace we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and then are able to draw into deeper relationship with our Father in Heaven. Does that mean we were not touched by God before we were baptized? No, all things in existence only exist because God allows it to. God is omnipotent and omnipresent, EVERYTHING is touched by God. We just have to find him.

That is a Catholic practice, finding God in all people and circumstances. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and the Church teaches the way we do that is by seeing that our neighbor is also made in the image of God. The Church is against the death penalty no matter how heinous the crime, because who are we to deny someone the opportunity of repentance and reconciliation? Because of this, I baptize my yoga practice. Where Buddhist yogis use “om” as a mantra, being the sound that started the universe, I have “Jesus, I trust in you,” the words of St. Faustina. Where Hindu yogis meditate to clear their mind, I meditate to drill down on the great m
ysteries of our faith like the incarnation.

I never want to avoid something because someone says it isn’t from God, I’d rather find God in it. I love Harry Potter, sorcery is strongly against all Christian teachings. Yet I watch it because I find my Lord in a young man willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his friends. Rather than locking ourselves in our beautiful stained-glass towers, maybe we should see what other people are doing and show them how Christ has been trying to touch them through it. God is everywhere, including yoga, we just have to find him.

Gym vs. Studio Yoga

For about a month now, I have been going to yoga several times per week at my local yoga studio.  I love it! It has done amazing things for my mind and body. I think yoga is such a beautiful practice and experience in self-aceptance. When I first started yoga, I was surprised to see it was like a real workout. Many believe yoga to be just a bunch of stretching, but in the studio, my heart gets pumping, I sweat, and I can feel my muscles working. One of the guys at work says yoga is for girls, men shouldn’t do yoga. After the hot yoga class I took, I think yoga is for the strong; and girls are strong. There have always been men in the classes I have taken. The sweat and grunt their way through the difficult poses and work very hard. I certainly admire their commitment to a craft that silly people, like the guy I work with, think is emasculating. Studio yoga can be used as a substitute for the gym. Depending on the class, you can experience: cardio, ab workouts, strength training, and increased flexibility. Not to mention the flood of endorphins you get in the brain after a good workout. My favorite part about the studio yoga is the attention to detail in the atmosphere: electronic candles, smooth music, steam and humidity to achieve a detoxify sweat. Plus the amazing cool washcloths with essential oils to calm us while in corpse pose after a killer workout.

On Sunday, I went to a yoga class, with different friend from work, at her gym. It was nice to get together and do something fun outside of the office. For this class, we were in a gym that definitely serves many purposes. The first thing I noticed was that we wore shoes studio. There are no shoes allowed on the yoga floor in a studio, but because this room served multiple functions, we took our shoes off once we set up our mats. There were punching bags in the way of the side mirrors; this wasn’t a huge deal, but they did get in the way of me checking my form. The music was really cool, it reminded my of History’s Vikings. I don’t know the types of instruments used, but I certainly enjoyed it. Yoga uses the Sanskrit language, which I am not fluent in–duh. So when I do yoga at home, I tend to choose yoga videos or apps that use the English translation of the poses. Example: cat-cow or Marjaryasana-Bitilasana, downward dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, corpse pose or Savasana. Studio yoga uses both the Sanskrit and the English translations while the gym class pretty much only used the English. I liked this a little better because I didn’t have to constantly be looking around or at the instructor about what we were doing. In studio yoga, the teacher demonstrates some moves but also does a lot of walking around to offer “hands-on assist.” I love this hands-on approach because I want to make sure I have the right form in order to reduce injury and expand my practice. Gym yoga didn’t do that, the instructor was at the front of the class exclusively, going through the motions with us. It isn’t my preference, but I know a lot of people would really like that. The type of yoga was similar to a yin yoga in that you get into poses and you stay for awhile, there wasn’t a lot of 1 movement to 1 breath like in more intense yoga practices. It wasn’t exactly yin yoga either, we weren’t in each pose for like 3 minutes. I would say this yoga experience wasn’t not a workout substitute, it was a nice add on to whatever else you are doing on your fitness journey. My final thought was on the demographics of the class. I’m sure this is dependent about the time of day and what day it was, but there was only one man there, that I think was gay. All the rest were women, young women. I would say all of us were between our 20s-30s. At studio yoga, there are only ladies and young ladies, middle aged ladies, young men, and middle aged men. I’ve never seen old men at yoga, I think the oldest I’ve seen was probably in his 50s. The point is, I can see where the guy at work gets the idea of yoga being for girls, if he only sees people doing yoga at the gym.

I think both experiences are fine. Like with anything in life, you need to know what your goals and abilities are. Obviously, it is easier to get to yoga if you are already at the gym. It is cheaper to go to yoga if you already have a gym membership. That’s actually a really important point to make: studio yoga is not cheap. You are defiantly paying for all the cool perks like cool washcloths with essential oils, hairspray in the bathroom, and a fireplace in the waiting area. I would recommend if you are new to yoga, to check out your gym’s classes and eventually move on to studio yoga, if you would like to really expand a yoga practice.

I hope you enjoyed this post, in the comments below let me know your thoughts on the different types of yoga you have experienced. Have a sparkly day!

My First Pilates Class

I took my first pilates class a couple weeks ago and it kicked my butt! Pilates is all about working what I call, the trunk: abs, back, bum. These muscles serve as the trunk of your body just like the trunk of a tree. They are necessary for you to maintain an upright posture, balance, and keep things running smoothly. I would say they are probably the most important, yet under focused, parts of the body. This is because they don’t look “sexy.” Legs and arms, sure; but how many people are worried about working the muscles in their back? How many people even know they have muscles in their back. Then there are the people that just do cardio and don’t do anything about strength training–that’s a whole other post.

I went to this class at a small studio in the downtown area of my hometown. It was a small business and it was lovely. The owners were there and we super nice and answered all of my questions. I had a lot of questions. For starters, I never liked doing pilates, even at home. I do a lot of YouTube workouts but I hate the pilates ones. It’s because we always start with the Hundreds. The Hundreds SUCK, pardon my language. I’m also used to doing what is called “mat pilates,” which means you don’t need any of the fancy apparatuses designed by Joseph Pilates. This class used what is called a Reformer. I cannot even describe this machine to you, it had strings and pulls and all sorts of moving parts. Luckily, the teacher was amazing and she spent a lot of time with me to help make the adjustments I needed for my workout. It was also a small class, just three of us ladies. This made me feel more comfortable because it was okay for me to mess up and it meant the instructor could supervise my movements, since I’m new the game.

I went into class with so much confidence, not about pilates itself but because I lift weights. I thought I was strong, I was wrong. I worked muscles I thought I worked all the time, but I was definitely sore the next day. It was awesome, I felt it in my tush, my love handles, and I felt it in my lower abs. The place I was most surprised I didn’t feel it was my knee. I danced as a youth and as a result have some kind of arthritis in both my knees, especially my left (base leg for technique). It bothers me most of the time, especially when the weather is bad. It has significantly improved since eliminating animal products from my diet, but I can still feel it when I work out. The day after pilates, I didn’t feel a thing! I was so surprised. When I was doing some research for an e-book I’m working on, I found there are a lot of people who suffer from joint pain that swear by pilates. Regular practice has virtually eliminated their joint discomfort.

All in all I think pilates should be part of a well rounded fitness regimen. You may not need to go every other day like someone with arthritis but I think once a week would be amazing. It’ll kick your butt, and make it sore, but it will be totally worth it!

3 Pre Workout Snacks

We are now in the season of gym memberships, yoga mats, and kettle balls. I’d like to encourage all of you to keep up the great work you are doing to get in shape. To help you continue on your journey, here is a list of my 3 favorite pre-workout snacks:
  1. Bananas: The natural sugar found in bananas will help you sustain your energy level during your workout, plus the potassium does wonders for your blood pressure.
  2. Berries: Vitamin C found in berries is ideal for your muscles to begin strengthening and repairing during your workout.
  3. Bagel: A whole grain bagel has complex carbs that will burn slowly throughout your workout for a sustained energy level.
In the morning, I like to toast a whole grain bagel and smear almond butter. The nut butters give a dash of protein to help your muscles build. Then, drink a berry banana smoothie. Once your nutrition is on point, it’s time to get to they gym!

 

In the comment section, let me know what your favorite workout food is. Also, subscribe because tomorrow I will have a YouTube video about a book review. Thanks for stopping by, and have a sparkly day!

5 Natural Water Infusions

We all know how important water is to our bodies. Because our bodies are mostly water, all its systems run on it. For those who drink more water, they are more fit, have better hair, and more radiant skin, not to mention all of the internal benefits. The problem with drinking water is that it’s so boring! We all want to add things to it, but many additives are packed with chemicals and sugars that are going to eventually make us sick. So what is the alternative? Naturally infuse your water with fruits and herbs! Here are five of my favorites:
  1. Orange and kiwi
  2. Raspberry and mint
  3. Blueberry and lime
  4. Lemon and cucumber (my favorite)
  5. Strawberry and basil
The primary benefit of infused water is that it makes water more delicious, therefore we are more likely to drink it. The secondary benefit is we are taking in more vitamins an nutrients. A balanced diet includes a hefty portion of fruits and these waters are full of antioxidants and vitamin C. With infused water, we can kill two birds with one stone. The results will be a healthier body, smaller waist, and more energy.
In the comments below, let me know what your favorite water infusion is. Also, if you make any of these, tag me on Instagram @TheGenFem. Don’t forget to subscribe, tomorrow’s post will be a YouTube video of my three tips for better skin. Thanks for stopping by, and have a sparkly day!