Fitness Friday: I ate a salad this week

October 10th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (5 Comments)

Workout Wrap Up

Saturday: 8 miles

Sunday: 15 miles

Monday: REST

Tuesday: 5k

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: 6 miles

Friday: Jillian Michaels Extreme Shed and Shred

It’s strange to look back on my week and feel like it’s low mileage compared to what it should be one month out from marathon #3. I realized this week that marathon #4 (Rock N Roll New Orleans) is also only 3.5 months away so I think I’m going to plan on PRing at that course and running Pensacola next month for fun.

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Strength training will be my priority for a few weeks as I’ve let it totally slide. I read a study recently that showed moderate strength training 2x a week was most beneficial for runners performance (as opposed to strength training more times a week or at vigorous levels.) So, that’s my goal. I was able to start eating a teeeeny bit better this week. I had a salad! And kombucha! I win all the healthy blogger points.

 2014-10-08 11.51.10I still ate mostly carby cheesy delicious meals. Like this picnic lunch I had in the car Monday before class.

2014-10-06 11.45.49I tried to make healthier choices grocery shopping at Publix after class Wednesday night. Aside from the chips (which I ate for dinner that night with bean dip) I was quite pleased with myself. The only reason I picked up the Suja juice was because it was BOGO. I’m not a huge fan of juice (I’d rather drink my calories) but I felt like I could do with the extra greens.

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So – progress is being made this week. And I’m happy. For the first time in weeks I felt light. Not stress free (and my TMJ is still killing me) but I just felt like I was able to breathe, and I felt like myself again. It was nice.

Now I just need to avoid hitting up both Cheeburger Cheeburger AND Mellow Mushroom this weekend. No more going out 2-3 times a week! Life can be so cruel.

What are you doing this weekend?
Have you ever been stuck in a rut where you felt like you weren’t yourself? How did you snap out of it?

My Stress Relief Toolkit

October 9th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (11 Comments)

Stress Relief Toolkit

I’m happy to say that in the last two days I’ve practiced yoga, and had a salad with kombucha for lunch. Small things, but little choices like that every day will end up having big results.

After I wrote my Yoga & Meditation Make You Awesome at Life post I started to dig around my house for my go-to stress relief items. While I did go out and buy one new Yoga DVD (Yoga for Stress Relief and Flexibility) I had a lot of stuff on hand already that I’m going to try to incorporate into my new ‘don’t give yourself a nervous breakdown’ plan. After trying the DVD once I was really impressed and it definitely helped work out some tension I always carry in my upper back that triggers TMJ flare-ups.

YogaI had a few readers recommend some great online yoga websites. Check out this youtube channel for quick yoga sequences. It’s a 30 day  challenge so there are 30 videos ranging from 13-20 minutes. Jen also suggested yogaglo.com and yogadownload.com which are pay sites but you can get hundreds of yoga videos for the cost of one DVD.

As for books I had three that I immediately pulled off my shelf to re-read.

Books

Breath by Breath. This book is great for someone who may already have a slight background in meditation (nothing sophisticated but it doesn’t go over any basics of meditation.) The entire book focuses on breath, which may sound boring but it’s amazing how much breathing can affect your emotions. Whenever I’m stressed/anxious I can always tell first physically because my breathing becomes very shallow. When I’m having a panic attack the only thing that can calm me down is breathing techniques. If you ever get short of breath from anxiety this is a must read.

Full Catastrophe Living. This is the FIRST book you should read if you are stressed, anxious, depressed, anything. I’m not exaggerating when I say this book changed my life. Clearly it wasn’t a permanent change but I am SO excited to read it again.  Just a few topics from the book: power of breathing, meditation basics & exercises, yoga, mindfulness, responding to stress versus reacting to it, and many different types of stress and how to deal with them.

How to Meditate. This book starts off with a few chapters discussing the very basics of what meditation is so it’s perfect for beginners. The majority of the book gives tons of specific meditation exercises which I love. There are meditations on the mind, visualization meditations (the meditation on tara brought me to tears) and analytic meditations (like meditating on love or the impermanence of life.)

Finally, I love to rely on herbs and aromatherapy to help me chill the eff out sometimes (I’ve tried Bach’s rescue remedy and it did nothing for me.)

Stress ReliefStress Relief Bath Salts – A warm bath is already a great way to relax but add in some aromatherapy bath salts and this is a great way to ‘wind down’ after a stressful day. I love this brand but you can always make your own for much cheaper (check out this tutorial I did on making your own bath salts.)

Stress Relief Lotion/Candles – my mom bought this stress relief candle from Bath & Body works (pictured as a lotion above) and she hated the smell and caused her stress. I loved it!

Kava Stress Relief Tea – this stuff is legit. I always have the craziest dreams when I drink this before bed but within minutes of drinking it my body feels more relaxed and it’s way more than just a placebo effect. Make sure you research Kava before drinking it and check that it doesn’t interact with any medical conditions/supplements you may be taking.

What’s in your stress relief toolkit? Ice cream? John Stamos?

A new study shows that people who practice yoga and meditation long term can control a computer with their minds faster and better than people with little or no yoga or meditation experience.

That’s like, futuristic shit y’all.

One of the study’s goals is to lay the foundation for future research to help people who are paralyzed or have brain diseases regain mobility and independence. The power of the mind never ceases to amaze me, and I unfortunately forget that we have so much control over it!

I’ve talked a bit about meditation before on my blog. Thanks to taking a Buddhist Psychology course during my graduate program in Psychology I have a healthy library of  books on the subject. I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking (the secret is a phenomenal book/movie!) and I’ve witnessed first hand how much regular meditation can lower stress levels, improve mood, and just generally make you a better person.

Yet – I never do it.

Same with Yoga. I read some new research on how great it is for you, swear I’ll start doing it again, and it never happens. I have a hundred great excuses. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money for classes. I’m already working out so much. Salem wants to cuddle … 

I’m done making excuses.

Yoga and Meditation

I have a lot going on in my life right now. More than I ever have before in my almost 31 years of existence. My stress levels are dangerous new highs. My TMJ is back, for the first time in my life I’m dealing with insmonia, my eating has been total garbage and I just feel like a second-rate version of myself. A lot of the stress will alleviate once the semester ends and I move to Fort Rucker in December. Until then I need to be more proactive about managing it.

At first I wanted to make this grand ‘life plan’ up. No more gluten! No artificial anything! Yoga and Meditation every single day for a month!

Then – I realized that’s one of my biggest problems. I go all out and I get burned out. So, I’m going to just make some minor tweaks and hope that by not overwhelming myself they are more likely to be long lasting. I’m definitely fighting the urge to go buy a dozen books on the subject, sign up for a month unlimited of yoga, and spend a weeks pay on all healthy, organic foods.

Instead I think I will buy one new yoga DVD (I only have one), maybe pick up a new non-caffeinated tea, and pull out some of my old meditation books to read through. I have an empty journal I’m going to use to start writing in daily again. I used to fill journals up with how much I ate and exercised for the day, but now I’ll just write down a bit about how I’m feeling, and what I was able to do for yoga and/or meditation that day. I certainly hope I can do something every day, but I’m not going to make any rules/promises to myself about what I ‘must’ do and just make an effort to do what I can, when I can, where I can.

Join me?

Resources:

Intro to Meditation from Mayo Clinic

Free Guided Meditations from UCLA

10 Relaxation Tips that Zap Stress Fast

Guided Relaxation Worksheets from University of Michigan

Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief (lots of great resources!)