A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post that compiled some ‘Recent Inspirations.’ The format was different than my usual, and I liked the alternative to coming up with my own original content. So I bring you a second dose of things that are currently inspiring me.
Life Inspiration: Empowering Quotes
I’m sure my fellow graduating seniors can relate to how stressful of a situation it is to be 12 weeks away from the end of our college career without a clue as to where our next chapter will take us. Pinterest has some calming quotes for that!
One more thoughtful reminder before we move on to something more colorful (because I know sometimes those winter blues/hormones/stress/whatever creep in and temporarily cloud our perspective. In reality, we are pretty lucky souls to have a life with so many possibilities. And yes, I have to remind myself this all the time.)
You will never find me in class in a sweatshirt. Nor will you catch me with leggings as pants. In fact, I avoid pants as much as possible because I find dresses and skirts so much more flattering. It takes a little bit of extra time and effort but I believe that putting together an outfit is an important representation of ourselves. Some people joke that only freshmen wake up at 6:30am to “get ready” for their 8am class…..but I’m in my 8th semester of class and I do this twice a week. What we wear and how we present ourselves can impact our attitude and confidence for the day. To me, it’s a worthwhile habit. My style inspiration (if only the weather here would cooperate…..pencil skirts and parkas kinda clash!):
(So many more outfits on my Career Path board!)
Health Inspiration: Nutritious Recipes
Some of the food photography on Pinterest is amazing. They make pictures of granola bars look so fancy! A few recipes I’ve been inspired to add into the weekly rotation:
Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Honey Coconut Apples from Simply Taralynn:
Raw Banana Bread Shake from The First Mess:
And this bouncy workout for a little extra exercise:
The series finale of Parenthood.
The song ‘Pretty Good Day’ by Lonestar.
A winning streak by your school’s basketball team.
Hearing a friend talk about falling in love.
Finding a new running trail.
Seeing some pretty big moments coming up on your calendar.
Earlier this week I mentioned by affinity for Echosmith’s album, and after over-playing ‘Bright’ I’ve decided that this is my new favorite:
Feel free to add your own recent inspirations in the comments section :)
A lot of my internal conversations revolve around goals. I’ve blogged about my fondness of lists and my aspirations for the future and my mind that just won’t shut off. Much of this comes from a deep desire to constantly better myself, continually look for opportunities that will help me with a successful career, and a genuine passion for living a happy life.
Most recently I used this passion to go after an internship that didn’t yet exist —> “You Get What You Work For”
So there are many times I ask myself “How can I improve?” As a student, a friend, an intern, a daughter. But today I’m specifically speaking about improving fitness. Because that is what this blog is all about, isn’t it? You don’t come here to read about another 20-something’s wanderlust and “dreams.”
I’ll give my personal goal as an example for these areas of improvement that can be applied to anyone:
Area of improvement: I WANT TO BE A FASTER RUNNER. (I think that is the goal of every runner. To be faster.)
Unit of Measurement: 3 mile time trial (weekly.) AKA Tempo Tuesdays. I’ve been running the same 3-mile course at 5am for the past 3 Tuesdays and here’s how it’s going:
Week 1: 18:39 // Week 2: 18:45 // Week 3: 18:42
I’m nothing if not consistent! Overall, I’m not unhappy with these times…but they don’t represent the downward trend I am striving for. So, cooling down from my 6:14 average pace this week, I asked myself “HOW can I improve?”
We cannot expect to see improvement in our fitness level if the effort is not put in to justify it.
If something doesn’t change in your your diet, exercise, sleep or mental health, you cannot expect to grow and become more fit.
Nutrition: I love talking about nutrition. You already know this. I do not pretend to know everything or have a perfect diet. But I do believe I make a good balance of clean whole foods, healthy nutritious meals, and splurges here and there. You can read about my typical daily diet here.
Things to consider:
- Are you eating enough before a workout to fuel yourself? Are you eating enough afterwards to recover?
- Are you eating too much, to sabotage your efforts?
- Can you cut back on soda/fried food/processed snack consumption?
- Do you eat breakfast?
- Do you keep a food journal?
- Are you getting a good balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats?
- Do you warm up before each workout? Do you include dynamic stretches before exercise and static stretches after?
- Could your routine benefit from more variety? If you are a cardio junkie (guilty!!) then try scheduling a couple strength-based training sessions into your weekly agenda. If you are camped out in the weight room, try venturing over to the pilates class. Sometimes we hit a plateau in our training and it’s important to incorporate variety into a training program.
- Are you resting enough? You might even have to CUT BACK on workouts. If you are in the gym and on the treadmill 7 days a week every week then your energy could be depleted faster than it can handle. Rest days are recharge days so schedule them wisely!
*For my goal to improve my 5k time, I am adding a weekly speed workout. 400 meter, 200 meter, and 100 meter sprints at “interval” pace. (All out.) I’m also going to be more diligent about post-workout static stretches!
This only requires one easy question: are you sleeping enough? If you constantly feel fatigued or tired, your body needs more hours of sleep before you can expect it to perform.
How is your attitude? Positive?
Do you look at fitness as a challenge or a chore?
Are you happy with your body, your energy level and your diet?
- Do you believe that your goal is attainable or does doubt cause you to get off track?
Mindset has a lot to do with results. It’s not just some cheesy cliche – the body achieves what the mind believes is as accurate as it is cutesy. Fitness and health should have a positive connotation, not viewed as a laborous chore to suffer through. In the end, it’s up to YOU and your own mind to motivate you to reach the goal.
*Achieving a mindset that is intrinsically motivated is a habit that I have formed over years of being the Straight-A Student, the Scholar Athlete, and the Over Achiever. I don’t work hard for a reward or for attention or any other tangible reason. It just makes me happy.
Assessing the different areas in your life and setting goals is part of lifelong happiness. And of course once you CONQUER a goal, the feelings of pride and accomplishment will only increase your motivation to do better. That is what lights my fire to run.
A little hodgepodge update on my Week #2 of Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Program! I have to say the hardest part is the clean-eating meal plan. The workouts are the fun part…I LOVE my afternoons in the gym.
But this girl has a sweet tooth. As per the clean-eating dietary guidelines, the only sugar my body consumes is from fruits and vegetables. I’ve been processed-food free for 11 days (do I get a pin or something?) and I can attest to the fact that my body is going through (refined) sugar withdrawals.
Last night I craved chocolate SO BADLY that I tried to concoct my own “clean” mug cake…..it turned out very poorly. :(
***My saving grace has been Quest Bars! They are primarily whey protein isolate, nuts, cocoa, stevia, and pre-biotic fiber.
Because we are the generation of convenience, our bodies have been nourished with processed and chemicalized foods for most of our lives. GMOs, preservatives, additives, refined sugars, corn syrups and the infamous red dye #3 have invaded our once-nutritious food products. Clean eating eliminates unnatural products from our diet, which rules out about 80% of the products in today’s grocery store (I made that percentage up but I’m assuming it’s pretty close…).
Our bodies are now hardwired to crave quick carbs (sugar), particularly when we are bored, tired, or stressed. It takes 21 days to make and break a habit….I’m over half way there. No cheating now!! I’m banking on the fact that in 10 more days my body won’t crave chocolate anymore. Wishful thinking, right? ;)
Let’s talk about workouts.
This was too cute not to get a picture of. Kerri and I both write down our strength exercises on post-its that are conveniently stuck to our water bottles. When we hit the gym together the other morning, we noticed that my blue water bottle/pink post-it combo perfectly complimented her pink bottle/blue note. Almost like we planned it right?
Today was only my second time venturing into the leg machines in my campus gym because I tend to avoid the weight room during crowded times. **My leg workouts usually consist of squats, lunges, running, stairs and arc trainer sessions.** Day 11 of the LiveFit program had the leg press, leg curl, leg extension, and calf machines on the menu. After 3 sets on the leg press, I decided to test myself for a set at my max weight. I did 12 reps of 190 pounds. Next week 200! These quads are on fire ;)
Oh I decided to make my hair healthier too! I chopped off a good 6 inches for a new fresh start. I haven’t had any recent picture opportunities so I settled for a selfie. I’m sorry.
Lastly I wanted to mention my kickboxing class because it’s been another source of inspiration for my healthy lifestyle. Kerri and I signed up for the kickboxing PE class so that we would have a guaranteed workout together a couple times a week. Jimmy the istructor is pretty cool but this week we have substitutes. Today, a woman who has been a fitness instructor for 33 years and owns her own fitness studio took over. She was so HAPPY and always smiling at herself in the mirror while she taught. I couldn’t help but smile too! Who knows, maybe that will be me in thirty years :)
And as a firm believer that music is my single most powerful source of workout motivation, I will leave you with the latest and greatest on my iPod:
Love the line “take the curve, you may be stronger than you know.” Told myself that on the Leg Press machine today. Ha!