My (Wedding) Health Goals

Folks, it’s crunch time. It was easy talking about my hopes and dreams for hitting the gym back in August, but at the turn of the new year, I knew I had to set real goals I could stick to day in and day out.

Before I go into the details, let me first say that I honestly have just one end goal in mind: to look and feel my absolute best when I take that anticipated walk down the aisle toward my future hubby. Does that mean shedding a couple pounds? Sort of. It mainly means feeling tight, toned and confident in my dress and emotionally energized and refreshed.

I’m actually not regularly stepping on a scale in these next few months. I’m mainly going on how I feel in my clothes and what I see when I look in the mirror, because as we know, the scale only tells part of the story. My skinniest has not always equaled my most toned in the past. But there are real goals I’m working toward every day. Here are a few of them.

Countdown to 200 miles
Countdown to 200 miles

I’m doing the Tone It Up bridal challenge. In other words, in the four months leading up to my wedding, I want to run 200 miles. That’s right—about 50 a month/12.5 a week/1.8 a day. I’m not going to drive myself bonkers trying to meet that exact number, but I’m going to do everything in my power to get damn close. This will help hold me accountable during my workouts and give me that extra nudge when I want to get off the treadmill. I thrive from checking things off of lists, so this worksheet is just begging to be crossed off!

I’m cutting carbs. Not cutting out carbs (no one wants to get on that rollercoaster ride), but rather cutting down on them. This means more green veggies, fruits, and lean proteins. Replacing a carb-y snack with Greek yogurt. Removing sugary creamer from my morning coffee. Backing away from the cookies at night and replacing them with peanut butter and granola. Of course there have been cheat meals and weak moments, but we’ve been on this “diet” since the new year—as the home’s chef, whatever I cook, Nick eats— and the both of us feel great. It’s crazy what some diet tweaks can do for your energy levels.

The gym and I are seeing each other 4x a week. I’ve always been dedicated to working out, but it’s time to bring out the big guns. Doing the same old 2-3 workouts a week isn’t going to help me get where I want to be. It’s also not going to get me to 200 miles, so I’m upping my workouts to at least four times a week. Five when my schedule allows. I’m of course running but doing more strength training as well to get the sculpted arms and back I’m craving.

See? Nothing too crazy. I’ve had goals like this before, but I’m really holding myself to this one. Between the pictures that will be taken and the honeymoon bikini that will be waiting for me the day after, I haven’t been having motivation issues. I just close my eyes and imagine how I want to feel for all the celebrations, starting with my shower and bachelorette party in April.

Honeymoon dreamin'
Honeymoon dreamin’

What fitness goals do you have for 2015?

My Gym Plan, Bridal Style

Source: Free People Blog
Source: Free People Blog

 

I’ve had a lot of these moments lately, so it’s not a surprise this quote spoke to me when I saw it earlier this week, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Between getting engaged, having my sister move away, moving my home and starting to plan a wedding, these past few months have been emotional. Between the tears of joy and often overwhelming moments, I find myself panicking and wondering if I’m truly living in the moment as much as I can. I know I will look back on this year (and next year) as some of the sweetest, most poignant times. And I don’t want to waste one minute.

One of the best parts about being in this great limbo (a few months after an engagement with still many months ahead before the wedding), is that I still have time to plan, envision, dream, scheme and … workout!

But first, let me take a selfie
But first, let me take a selfie

Despite the crazy summer (there’s always excuses to skip workouts!), I’ve been trying my hardest to get a head start on “bridal bootcamping” and keep up with my fitness. Bottom line–I don’t want to wake up on New Year’s Day after binge eating my way through the holidays with a lot of work ahead of me to get wedding ready. So I’m starting now!

  • I joined the YMCA. The first day in our new town, Nick and I signed up at our local YMCA. I canceled my membership at Planet Fitness, and I have to say that I think the extra monthly fee is completely worth it! The workout equipment at our Y is top-notch and the classes are great. If you’re thinking of joining, definitely request a walk through and ask what the best price is that they can offer you–they worked with us to give us something very reasonable!
  • I’m still running with my running buddy. Even though we’re now about 25 minutes away from one another, my running partner and I are committing to maintaining our weekly runs. I know it will get harder as winter approaches, but it’s really helping to keep me on track. Running is always more fun with a good girlfriend and good gossip!
  • I’m cooking a lot more. It might be a combination of now being out in the burbs away from the great restaurants and wanting to save money, but I’m making homemade food a lot more often and have committed to making our lunches and dinners from whole, fresh ingredients. Our wallet and waistlines are thanking us–it’s a win win. On the menu this week: these peanut noodles!
  • I’m in a walking challenge. My company is challenging all of us to hook ourselves to a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. It sounds crazy, but even being a runner, it’s extremely hard to get that step count per day! I may not be meeting that goal all the time, but it’s definitely making me more conscious of my activity level.

And with that, I’m off to go for a walk. Have a great week!

What are some of your favorite healthy habits?

My Top 5 CLE Spots & Week 4 Check-In

Hey everyone! It’s been a busy week so far, and it’s only halfway through! Above all, I’m so happy that the sun was shining yesterday. Even though it was quite chilly in the evening, I got out for a 3-miler, and it was so worth it! I saw my turkey neighbor again, but she kept her distance and all was good. Maybe we’ve come to a mutual understanding: You leave me alone, I don’t scream so loud your ears ring for days.

Last week’s training was a little bit lighter. I did an hour of yoga on Monday and Thursday, followed by a 2-miler Saturday. This weekend, we’re stepping it up with a 5-miler, and I’m so excited. We’re halfway through the training schedule!

That said, has everyone visited www.thisiscle.com?  I may be behind the curve, but I recently stumbled upon it and was so inspired. I love my city, and it’s great to see a website that is dedicated to our great home. A local blogger posted her five favorite places in Cleveland, so it got me thinking about my top five. Here goes nothing! In no particular order…

  1. Jacob’s Field. I don’t care if it’s now technically Progressive Field, it’s still “The Jake” to me. I have nothing but fun memories there, and let’s be honest: dollar hot dogs, ice cold beer and baking in the sun watching the Indians is a combo that can’t be beat. Sigh. I can’t wait for summer.

    The hottest Indians game EVER (July 4, 2012)
    The hottest Indians game EVER (July 4, 2012)
  2. Lakewood Park. Living so close to this Cleveland gem is truly a blessing. The park is beautiful, and the views of downtown and the lake are breathtaking—especially in the winter. Some of my favorite nights include strolls through the park watching the sunset.
  3. East 4th Street. Every time I go to East 4th, I’m reminded how cool this city is. Great restaurants, a comedy club and wine on tap (hellloooo, Greenhouse Tavern). I’m always guaranteed a fun night and a good crowd.
  4. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Ever year since I was little, my family would go to the zoo. I never realized how great the Cleveland zoo was until I visited others—we have one of the best! My little tip: Go on a day that’s not a scorcher. Your nose will thank you.
  5. Tartine. This little wine bar/restaurant is one of my favorite romantic spots. I have very sweet memories there, and how can you not? The lighting is dim, the patio has cute little lights and flowers all over. Not many know about this place, but you can always count on wonderful house wine and food.

Ta-ta for now! Have a great week.

What are your top five spots in Cleveland? 

Wild Turkeys and My 10 Miler Check-In: Week 3

This past week was (technically) week three of my 10-miler training program. Here’s a brief summary of my workouts:

Monday: 1 hour yoga flow class

Wednesday: 3-mile run at the gym

Thursday: 1 hour yoga flow class

Saturday: Ran 4 miles

As you can see, I don’t follow the training program exactly and never have. I mainly use Hal Higdon to structure my weekend mileage. First of all, I don’t have the time or interest in working out six times a week. I also like to mix up my workouts and find I run better when I do a mix of strength training with my cardio. So, I do what feels good for me and try my hardest to follow the weekend run pattern.

This week’s lessons:

Sports bras are a must. Not that I didn’t know this already, but when I rushed to yoga after work and realized I hadn’t packed a sports bra, I almost didn’t go. But, knowing my training schedule and wanting to get four workouts in that week, I pressed on. Let’s just say, it was 60 minutes of being uncomfortable. Which is not exactly the state you should be in when trying to find your balance and look out your third eye. I’m packing a couple extra ones in my gym bag so I never forget again.

Wild turkeys exist … in Cleveland. Yes, I’ve seen wild turkeys before. In my grandparents’ backyard on the PA countryside. But on my Saturday 4-miler, my friend and I got chased down by a 4’ wild turkey. We didn’t even realize it until a friendly man driving a Lowe’s truck (I’ll call him our guardian angel) stopped his truck in the middle of the street to flag us down and help us.

I thought Thanksgiving was long gone?  Source: Wikipedia
I thought Thanksgiving was long gone?
Source: Wikipedia

Man, that thing could run. And homie was not looking happy. Supposedly it’s soon to be mating season so they’re extra territorial? I’m just happy we made it out safe without being molested by a turkey. This article says you can “shoo” them away aggressively or spray them with a hose. Good to know for next time.

These energy balls are the best thing ever. I found these on Pinterest and have been making them and eating them as a protein-packed dessert or post-run snack for a couple weeks now. They basically taste like chocolate chip banana bread? And I bet you have all the ingredients in your cabinet right now. I add a scoop of Perfect Fit Protein for an extra punch. Yum!

It was an eventful week, so let’s hope this one is a bit more … subdued. Cheers!

I’m Training for the Cleveland 10-Miler: 8-Week Series

Hello, friends! Today I have a very exciting announcement. In a little under eight weeks, I run my next race: the Cleveland 10 Miler!

That’s right: I’m going back to my roots. Although I’m having fun with yoga, Zumba and HIIT, I feel my best when I’m running. And since (fingers crossed) the weather is going to break soon, I can’t wait to be outside again.

For the next eight weeks, I’ll be loosely following this Hal Higdon plan to prepare and also blogging about my experience! I haven’t run a race since my half marathon in October, so I’m excited to follow a training regime again.

Rounding the corner to finish my first half marathon in 2011
Rounding the corner to finish my first half marathon in 2010

I always feel best when I’m training for a race. It gives me purpose to my weeks, knowing that after work and on the weekends I’ll be moving closer toward my goal. Not to mention that the 2012 Cleveland 10 Miler was my best race I’ve run. My friend and I finished averaging 9:50 miles. Not medal-winning by any means, but a best in my book!

I’ll go more into my personal “best practices” for training throughout the series, but some quick tips I’ve learned in the past include:

  • Focus on “foot time”: This is a tip a runner friend gave to me when I was training for my first half. If you’re scheduled to run six miles one day but can only actually run five, walk the other one mile. Your training is about being on your feet and moving for that distance. So don’t get down on yourself if you have a bad run and can’t complete your mileage at a running pace. You still traveled six miles on foot!
  • Fiber is your friend: I don’t know about you, but I get hungry when I’m training. It actually led to me gaining almost 10 pounds when preparing for my full marathon! Eat food that fills you up so you’re less likely to binge on something unhealthy. My favorite foods while training include bananas, Greek yogurt, beans, whole-grain bread for sandwiches and big spinach salads. You work hard when you train, and the last thing you’d want is for your body not to reflect it!
  • Get the gear: Training for a race is not the time to buy cheap gear. Really invest in good running shoes, a quality sports bra, sweat-wicking shirts and a nice pair of running pants. Your body will thank you when it’s not chafed and blistered.
  •  Take it all in: Always find time to be proud of yourself. A training plan is a time for you to really reflect on how far you’ve come. It’s amazing what you can do this week that you weren’t able to do last week. Be sure to take some time to enjoy the journey and revel in what you’re capable of. You’re amazing, and you’re proving it every day!

This race, I want to concentrate on feeling good and keeping a quick pace. In the past, when I’ve focused on my strength training and incorporated a lot of cross training into my weekly workouts, it’s helped me with my speed. I’ll be doing a mix of running, yoga and HIIT in the next few weeks. And every week, I’ll be giving you updates on my workouts, snacks and everything in between, to get me to April 26. Join me on my journey!

Have a great week, everyone!

I Can do Anything for 20 Minutes: My First HIIT Experience

“I can do anything for [insert timeframe here].”

This is one of the mantras I’ve said over and over again to myself during my all my races. It’s what got me through the last leg of my marathon (“I can do anything for another hour.”) and what I say in any less-than-ideal situations (ie. a long flight or a doctor’s appointment). And so is the theme for HIIT—high-intensity interval training.

HIIT is a growing fitness trend, and after trying my first HIIT workout last night, I can understand why.  I’m sure many of you have done it already, but I’m new to the scene. And I have to say, after completing this routine, I’m hooked. Side note: To get a full workout in, I’d pair this video with a 30-minute run or do these circuits twice through.

I’m the type of person that if I don’t leave a workout drenched in sweat and out of breath, I don’t feel like I made good use of my time. I blame it on being a runner. HIIT gets your heart pounding right away. You give it your absolute all for a certain period of time (usually 30 seconds or less) and then take a quick break before doing it all again. Because these high-intensity intervals are paired with quick breaks, it’s good for your ticker.

Here's a HIIT workout I plan to try later this week.  Source: popsugar.com
Here’s a HIIT workout I plan to try later this week.
Source: popsugar.com

Why else do I love it so much?

I can do it in my apartment. Guys, this weather is starting to wear on my gym motivation. And after a long day at work and an even longer commute home, the last thing I want to go is leave my home again to fight the cold and snow. Plus, there’s usually no equipment involved with HIIT—just your body weight. But that doesn’t mean it’s not VERY challenging (can you say tricep pushups with a kick-back?)!

It’s quick. In the summer when I want to go outside and run, I want to dedicate most of my time toward that, not lifting weights at the gym. So this workout is the perfect supplement to the cardio I love to do so I can still get strength training in my weekly routine. Which leads me to…

It builds muscle. One of my goals is to not necessarily lose a ton of weight, but to tighten up. But I’ve always struggled with building muscle, because frankly, it’s not as fun to me as some cardio (running, spinning, etc.). I want buns of steel, ya catch my drift? HIIT is the perfect combination of cardio and strength training.

So I’m off in search of other HIIT workouts to fill my schedule. Have you tried HIIT? If so, what workout is your favorite?

Right now, I’m in the process of building a “30 before 30” list with some of my friends. I’ll be sharing some of my to-do’s next week … stay tuned!

Zumba and 20 Questions

Last week, I tried my first Zumba class. I have to admit that in the past, I really had no desire to try one and often laughed at the thought of a bunch of women dancing around and saying they got a good workout in. But when my friend’s friend said she was going, and I was still experiencing Vegas jet lag, I decided to give it a go.

Source: Unknown
Source: Unknown

Phew. Zumba is NOT for the faint of heart. My utmost respect for everyone who is a dedicated Zumba-thoner. You guys rock! I left an hour later sweaty, sore and out of breath. My calves and arms burned for days! I recommend it for a fun workout that goes by in a flash. I took my first class at The Movement Factory, but there are plenty of places around CLE that offer it.

Now onto something … well, pointless.

Since it’s Wednesday and we’re halfway through the week (can you taste the Friday happy hour cocktails?!), I saw this quiz and thought it would be a fun exercise. Feel free to answer the questions on your own blog, with your friends or by yourself. Quizzes are fun—they remind me of when I was 15 and asked my girlfriends questions at my mom’s house on a Friday night. 🙂

  1. What is your favorite indulgence?
    Although I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, anyone who knows me will tell you my weakness is cookies. Any cookie. At any time. Nick bought me cookie dough Oreos and rice krispie Oreos as a surprise earlier this week, and it brought a little tear to my eye. God bless that man.
  2. What is your favorite cocktail?
    It’s simple, yet satisfying: a vodka soda with a lemon.
  3. The clothing item you can’t live without?
    Besides the obvious, I can’t live without scarves. They jazz up a boring outfit when I don’t have time to think about what I want to wear.
  4. Your favorite workout song?
    Right now, it’s Holy Grail. Love me some J.T. and Jay-Z.
  5. Favorite way to sweat?
    Well, my favorite way to workout is running. 🙂
  6. Your favorite color?
    Bright kelly green. It’s so energizing!
  7. Where did you grow up?
    A small suburb outside Cleveland.
  8.  What is your favorite TV show?
    I’m guilty of watching trashy TV, like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Millionaire Matchmaker. Oh, and Toned Up!
  9. What was your first job?
    I was a sales associate at J.C. Penney. It taught me … how crazy people are.
  10. What was the name of your first pet?
    My first pet was a kitty, and his name was Mickey. He had black fur with a white bib and white paws. He was beautiful. I truly believe my childhood was that much better with the animals I grew up with. They were like my family members!
  11. What’s the one thing you refuse to share?
    My cookies. Mine.
  12. If you had to move to another country, where would you go?
    Switzerland. It was surprisingly, out of the countries I’ve visited in Europe, the cleanest and most naturally beautiful. I could see myself living in Lucerne and occasionally yodeling in the mountains.
  13. What is your favorite confidence booster?
    Red lipstick. Bam! It instantly gives you power.

    Source: Unknown
    Source: Unknown
  14. If you were a jungle animal, what would you be?
    A jaguar. MEOW!
  15. Waffles or pancakes?
    Although I don’t have a waffle maker, I’d pick waffles. Something about fluffy, slightly crunchy waffles with some butter and tons of syrup…
  16. Your best piece of dating advice?
    Ha! I’m certainly no expert, but in my 10+ years of experience, I’d say to be honest with yourself. You know what you want and how you feel deep down. Go with that.
  17. The one item you always have on you?
    Lip gloss.
  18. Favorite weekend indulgence?
    A glass (or two) of wine. Coffee at noon. Eating cereal in front of the TV. Sleeping in. Oh wait, was I only supposed to pick one?
  19. If you were a food, what would you be?
    A chocolate chip cookie. Really, it all comes back to cookies.
  20. Think of your life as a movie. What’s the title?
    Get it, Girl!

A final thought: If you get a chance, read this Women’s Health Magazine article on 15 Fitness Habits You Need to Establish in Your 20s. Lots of great advice (I need to follow the one about stretching!). Have a great rest of the week! ♡