Fitness Friday week#4- Why comparing yourself to others is a weakness, not a strength.

 Why you should never compare where you’re at in training to someone else & how to stay focused on your own goals! 

I learned a long time ago in my athletic journey what a losing battle it is to compare your talents to others.
It’s normal to feel eager to beat your competitors and WIN!! 
Competition is healthy and makes you a stronger athlete. It proves you care, but what do you care more about..? 

Being a better athlete at whatever you do should be a goal for sure..
but the only person you need to be concerned about being “better” than is the person you were yesterday, not the athlete you’re Instagram stalking now. 
I know that’s the most cliche phrase, but it’s true isn’t it?? 

A lot of my friends always say,”oh I could never do what you do. I worked out but it’s nothing compared to what you do!” STOP. You are not me and I am not you. We are at various training levels with completely different goals! It’s okay to be where you’re at.

Here’s why comparing yourself to another person is stupid:

1. They are human too, not God. Don’t put anyone on a “pedastool ” (If they can accomplish their goals, so can you)

2. Your goals are not the same

3.They are not YOU

I can’t count the number of time I’ve personally watched other runners who were faster than me and wondered why I wasn’t that “good”. I train the same as them, I eat healthy, I care about my running so much and keep improving too!

But what really set me free to become a truly “better” and less stressed athlete is understanding this-

  • everyone you meet is on their own fitness journey

Not everyone has the same goals as you, so they may be doing specific training or at a certain plateau in their fitness.  Different does not mean BETTER. 

Go ahead and toss that thought in the trash please.

  • Rome wasn’t built in a day..

One of my favorite pro distance runners, an Oiselle athlete- Steph Rothstein said it best here:  

 
She’s right! Hard work and results take time. Looking around at what someone else is doing won’t help you get there any faster. It’s a distraction from how awesome you can be!

Romans 8:37 tells us that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” 

 I think Jesus had it right. We weren’t created to be the same, do the same, or improve at the same time. 

Focus on what you’re given to do now, where you’re at. 

 One of my friends texted me this today when we were chatting and catching up. 

  
    It made my day. It reminded me that I have a plan too; that what I’m doing is just as important as anyone I thought was “better” than me just because I’m not where they’re at or don’t have the same results as someone else.

Every day we have countless choices to make. This is one you should easily be able to decide now.

 Uplift yourself instead of criticizing or comparing yourself to others. 

You’ll reach your goals faster and you’ll be more focused instead of drowning in an endless comparison trap!

You need to have tunnel vision when you feel tempted to compare. Only see your progress and work.

Ever notice that I never  post the exact workouts I do or splits from track workouts? It’s none of anyone’s business what I’m doing frankly. 

And it eliminates some comparison temptation. I do post to motivate and encourage but not out of a selfish boastful platform. My glory goes to the one that gave me my abilities and passion.

The more you focus inward instead of around you, you’ll have the same peace and seeing someone else’s success won’t cripple you or detail you mentally.

Be so good at doing you that what someone else says or does doesn’t even make a sound in your ears. 

Being supportive or proud of someone is great. But don’t idolize them or count yourself out from reaching what you want too. You’re a lot more capable than you think!

Savvy Food Prep & Grocery List!

Nutrition tips for how to grocery shop efficiently, budget frugal, what foods to buy where, and what you should always have in your kitchen!

Buying and eating healthy can be overwhelming when you don’t even know where to start when you get to the grocery store. You want to eat healthy but it’s expensive and you don’t even know what to buy to make your dollars last.

 

I’m here to help!

I know that these tips may not be for everyone that scrolls through my blog and that’s okay. I’m offering some advice and suggestions that I know have helped me fuel my training while poorly adulting for the first year and a half on my own.

I’m a smart shopper and I know some tricks that can help you save a lot of money while you build your pantry and maintain healthy living.
It all starts with making a list. Staying organized and knowing what you need before you hit the store will save time and money.

So I’ve compiled a few lists broken down into simple categories for you(and no it’s not an exact list of everything I go buy at the store each week!). And no you don’t need to go out and buy everything on these lists.

This is just a guideline for some of the types of foods you should have in your healthy/fit kitchen!


Fruits and Veggies

  • Apples
  • Kiwis
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Pomegranate
  • Lemons
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cucumber
  • Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet potato
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Squash
  • Eggplant
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Onions
  • Zucchini

Dairy/Non Dairy alternatives

  • Almond milk, coconut or soy milk
  • Skim milk
  • Greek yogurt or lowfat/nonfat yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Low fat cream cheese
  • Butter or vegan butter spread

Juices

  • Orange juice
  • Tart cherry juice (or make your own with chia)
  • Gatorade
  • Apple juice
  • V8

Beans/legumes

  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Pento beans
  • Green beans
  • White beans
  • Edamame
  • Peanuts
  • Quinoa(it’s really a high protein veggie but I’m sticking it here bc you’ll see it on this isle or with the rice)

Fats,sauces &spreads

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Spreads & sauces
  • Hummus
  • Peanut butter
  • Nutella
  • Coconut oil peanut spread
  • Almond butter
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pasta sauces
  • Low fat dressings for salad
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • Hot sauce

Nuts, grains & breads & pasta 

  • Brazil nuts,almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds,
  • Chia seeds & flax
  • Brown rice
  • Basmati & jasmine rice
  • Oats
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole grain bagels


    Protein

  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Tilapia
  • Shrimp
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Shellfish
  • Any deli/lunch meats

Teas,powders extras 

  • Green tea bags
  • Matcha powder(raw green tea powder! It’s amazing and what I got hooked on this year in my smoothies and lattes at Starbucks!)
  • Instant coffee powder
  • Honey
  • Brown sugar
  • Protein bars
  • Granola
  • Cereal bars
  • Organic Jelly or jams
  • Crackers/healthy salty snacks

WATER!!!!!!! I don’t like tap water..fluoride*cough*cough*

 You can buy 24 pack or a gallon of purified drinking water for under a dollar at most stores.


Avoid

  • Anything with high fructose corn syrup(I do not purchase anything with this in it)
  • Trans fat
  • Sodas
  • Sugary juices
  • Candy or fattening snacks w/ low nutrition
  • Processed foods
  • Canned foods
  • Red meat(I know some of you eat that and it’s okay! I just don’t eat beef or pork so I don’t buy it)
  • White bread
  • Cottage cheese or high fat butters/spreads
  • Sweets!!! A little desert every now and then is okay but loading up on candy and ice cream isn’t!

I typically go grocery shopping once every week-week and a half. Normally I only need to restock each week or so on my meats,produce and any short-term perishables like fruits,fresh veggies or milk and cheeses.

Most of your grains, pastas, breads, oats, snacks & dried foods will last two or more weeks depending on what you buy and expiration dates.

 I like to buy my meats FRESH and cook them the day I eat them(I’m mainly talking about fish/chicken/frozen meats for dinner). 

Now, I know that many people that food prep LOVE to make all of their meals on Sunday and have them all lined up and ready to roll in the fridge for the week.

I’m the same way EXCEPT– for my dinner meats, I make those the day of or have left over meat the next day for dinner at most.

 

I normally do my food prep on Sunday’s too- my breakfast smoothie bags, morning meals, snacks, fruit baggies, lunch bowls, sandwiches, pastas, salads, & cut veggies and fruits all put in their containers and sealed up(on a normal, good week!)

 BUT-something about stale,dry chicken and broccoli for dinner each night just rubes me the wrong way..I like variety and switching it up every now and then makes me happy.

That may work for some or that may not. Take it or leave it folks. Do what you will eat so you don’t get bored or waste food. 

My grocery store hit list-what’s best to buy where?

Aldi

Gold mine for the following:

Sweet potato chips

Veggie straws

Black bean/blue corn chips

Dried fruits

Nuts(they have this amazing can of mixed nuts you can buy for less than $3 filled with Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts ect. Basically all the good ones & good for you)

Apple sauce & fruit snacks

Peanut butter

Almond/soy milk

Pastas,quinoa, pasta sauces

Frozen fruit for smoothies

Basically any little fueling/healthy snacks or dried foods.

Wouldn’t recommend meats,dairy or produce here.


Publix

Where shopping truly is a pleasure.

I buy all of my deli meats here and cheeses. It’s the best quality and you can get lucky with specials in pricing each week. Publix is great for frozen or fresh meats too you can make the day of or stick in the freezer. Also, if you go to the seafood counter- you can get a piece of fish steamed right there for you, buy it, go home and just prepare your sides and have the protein part ready to go! It’s awesome.

BOGO. Need I say more..? Look out for cereals & certain dairy, snacks and other items on your list that could be buy one get one free at publix each week.


Target

Cartwheel. Download the app now and you’ll be penny pinching your way down your list in no time. As if we needed to spend more time in Target getting distracted by all its goodies.

I love buying my veggies and some fruits here. Prices are normally good and it’s on the way home for me most days. I also buy my water, Gatorade and a few snacks here. You can also find some sales here on certain items each week.


Sprouts

Best place for FRESH FRUITS & VEGGIES hands down.


Trader JoesBest place to buy cheapest wine/craft beers

Sushi, salads,cold lunch items, breads, snacks

Frozen meals and veggies, pastas are affordably priced and good quality

Organic snacks and sweets


Walmart

I mainly hate going in this place for obvious reasons- too many humans & only like two registers out of 25 open at a time.

It is pretty great to bulk buy some of the non perishable items and really save money on a budget though. If you can muster up enough patience, this is the best bang for your buck overall. I don’t buy deli meat or produce here.

Alrighty, that wasn’t so bad huh?! 

Shopping for healthy and affordable foods takes a little practice, knowing what sales are happening and what to look for when you go shopping, having a plan and committing to it.

Yes, food prepping does take a little time out of your Sunday-fun day..


BUT it will save you money and time and health in the long run the following weeks when you’re in a hurry, tired and hungry during the day. You’ll be prepared, satisfied and your body will adapt to not craving unhealthy, empty foods that just add calories.

Have fun with it. Eating is supposed to be enjoyed. Play with recipes and find out what you like and switch it up every now and then. Don’t be boringggg and force yourself to eat the.same.meal.every.day.blahhhhh. 

You know your body best. And your body will respond well when you fuel it right. Take care of your temple!! You only have one, treat it with respect and care. 🙂


2017-Prudent..we awaken from the ashes

Driving back to Birmingham Tuesday after a much needed Christmas vacation at home in Georgia , I reflected on my 2016. 

The good, the bad, the ugly, and the ugliest swirled around my thoughts as the rain tapped against my windshield.

 I began to break down in my head some categories of things I felt/experienced in 2016 and how I felt going into a new year with so much to look forward to.

As I stepped out onto the soft gravel, matted down after the shower; I felt like so much stress and weight had been lifted off of me. Joy flooded my legs moving back and forth as my mind toyed with all of the hopeful emotions surrounding the new year and what it means.

What I learned in 2016

  • Trust God. His plans are perfect, they may not be your plans or your timing, but trust Him and you’ll be rewarded.
  • Fear isn’t real. Fear is an irrational emotion. Choosing to not act or go after a dream because you’re afraid you’ll fail or won’t be good enough is robbing yourself and wasting your time.
  • Waiting never gets you there faster. Putting something off won’t make it go away, especially if it’s something important. It just brings anxiety
  • Doing things to please others is good and should be done, but not at the expense of your dignity or your dreams/desires. Don’t live to please someone who doesn’t value you or respect you. Leave them behind, even if you “like” then. Weigh your true pros/cons. If it doesn’t add up, leave and don’t turn back.
  • Good things take time. It took me a year basically to save enough money, have enough time, & to fully commit to my career change to become a personal trainer. Guess what, I got it done. Stay focused and don’t give up it’s important to you, you’ll make it happen sooner or later.
  • Grit. You gotta have some grit and backbone because life won’t always be sunshine and butterflies. When you’re tested, hurt, fail, betrayed, left, depressed or lonely- you need to be strong because sometimes you only have yourself and a God who is that strength. Get back up and don’t cry.
  • Believe in yourself.Sometimes, you’re the only one who does and gets you.  At the end of the day, who are you really trying to please?
  • Be confident in your abilities and never stop growing or learning. Life isn’t meant to be comfortable. That’s called surviving. Do more.
  • Do it yourself. Don’t depend on anyone but yourself to get you where you need to be. People aren’t perfect and neither are you, but you know you’ll be there for yourself.

What I’m leaving behind 

  • Stress,anxiety,worry, fear- that I’m not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, won’t have enough money, impress the right people, please everyone, do what God has planned for me. I know I will still have things that cause those emotions but I’m going to react and handle them differently by completely trusting what God has for me through prayer and just being joyful throughout everything.
  • “Too busy” for family, for friends, for being kind and taking time to show that every #Onematters I regret that I was too busy this year for some of my friends and family who needed me or people I could have impacted more if I slowed down a little.
  • Negativity!!! Not gonna invite it or entertain it. That’s that.
  • Excuses– for anything. Own it.
  • Putting myself second for any man or friend that doesn’t value me and treat me with the same level of respect and dignity.
  • Debt. I don’t have much & I am poor right now but once I start having a more stable income and actually saving money, I want to make sure I invest it in the right places.
  • People. Anyone that doesn’t have the same heart for being a light to others, any unhealthy human leach.
  • Doubt. Of myself or my faith.

What I’m taking with me to 2017

  • Faith in ChristI’m not perfect but I serve a God who sees past that and loves me the same every day. I need to be closer to His word and to spend more time in prayer & the word to become more like Him & show other people I interact with His love and joy he’s blessed me with. 
  • JOYI’m going to be joyful when I wake up, if I’m sick, if I’m well, if I’m at work, running, running late, sad. I know there will be struggles again but I’ll remain joyful and know that I can still be used to shine light and love despite my circumstances.
  • Being presentactually being engaged in conversation with people when I’m with them. Not being impatient or flaky with friends, family, clients, or anyone I’m with. I want people to know they matter and to bless them. That means being there for them! 
  • LaughterI want to LOL and smile more than ever this year and have fun and enjoy life no matter what this year brings 
  • NEW CAREER!!!! Did I mention I just got a job as a personal trainer at the YMCA greystone campus?! Woohooo!!! I’m so incredibly extatic and I’m going to devote all of myself to being the best personal trainer I can be for my clients and constantly keep learning and growing! 
  • New FriendshipsI’ve made so many new, inspiring friends this year and I am so blessed! I can’t wait to plant more seeds and strengthen bonds I’ve made this year and make new ones. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. 
  • Serving I know my new career is a way for me to serve others and I want to be more of a servant leader in all aspects of my life. I really want to make this year more about others and less about Lauren. Putting myself second for someone else to grow and be blessed is actually winning. 
  • Openness– to learn more, to say yes and go out and have some fun(not crazy drunk fun) but to new experiences and to travel and learn more about people.
  • RUNNINGduh. But really, who knows where running will lead me this year..hopefully heathy!! & currently flirting with the idea of bumping up to the half marathon race this year competitively!!!

Okay, I know that was a lot . But 2016 was undoudbtedly the most difficult year for me on all levels. That’s set me up for a very pivotal, exciting and hopeful 2017.

I’m stronger, wiser, more patient, more obedient in my faith and more proud to be a female than I ever have been.

No, I don’t have a husband or any children to brag about  yet-but I’m content with that for now.

I’m not lonely or bitter or searching at all actually right now. I honestly feel that at this point in my life right now that God is using me to do other things with the gifts I have.

I know and trust that when God’s ready for me to be with someone who loves Him more than me and values my heart above my flesh, I’ll know.

Right now, if 2017 goes without a single date I don’t think I could be much happier. lol but seriously..

 I know some people can’t fathom that or cringe at the thought! but you can’t be happy with anyone if you’re unhappy alone. & I’m pretty happy with my life going into the New Year now! Dating just isn a goal for me right now.:)

Back to the female comment

In 2016, I became surrounded by a lot of new female friends and coworkers(more than ever) because other than teammates in college, I have a lot of guy friends.

No, I’m not a hoe. Chill. I just grew up with all brothers and I’m sarcastic and kind of a “bro” and not a “typical female” as some say.

Anyways, I’m excited to be surrounded and inspired by so many incredible women lately. I am certainly a proud feminist and I have a feeling that for some reason 2017 will be a great year for women!

 Women empowering other women and promoting equality instead of unjust, oppressive comments or actions is true feminism.(no not men bashing. That’s not what feminism is! I’m sure I’ve already lost the egotistical shovanist a few paragraphs ago anyways)

My Goals for 2017

  • Grow/excell in my new personal trainer career & be the best I can be for my clients! Learn more each day
  • Become financially stable & save money & no debt!
  • Be a better servant leader in my community
  • Empower women
  • Spend more time growing in my faith in Christ and acting on that
  • Be a better listener and supporter of my friends and family
  • Be more patient & show everyone they matter
  • Bump up to the half marathon in my running career and get to the next competitive level! Handle more pain..
  • Break 17 in the 5K!
  • PR for my road 10K!!
  • Stay healthy running!!!(injury free)
  • Learn new recipes and maintain healthy lifestyle
  • Make new friends!! And go out more!
  • Travel and enjoy LIFE
  • Relax and know what rest is!

2016 as my last post detailed- was the hardest year across the board for me as well as many of you too. 

2017 offers us HOPE & excitement for chasing down our dreams and becoming better versions of ourselves. 

Let’s leave any negative emotions, circumstances & people that don’t line up with our visions for this year in 2016.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭17‬ NIV)

I wish everyone of you nothing but courage, happiness and blessings for 2017!!<3

2016-“Bye Felicia” Year.

I think it’s safe to say on everyone’s behalf…what an absolutely braggadocious, dreadful year it has been for many, many reasons. Literally every time we thought it couldn’t get much worse, guess what? It did tenfold.

Across the board, most of my friends, family, and anyone I’ve personally talked to are glad to have made it to see the light of the hopefully approaching year 2017. Seriously, the glimmer of 2017 can’t come soon enough. We need it like yesterday.

This year has been the most incredulous struggle for us all. Starting from the joke of a political race we had that painfully dragged on this year and ultimately got us NO WHERE headed into 2017, to the constant worry of freaking WWIII starting around the globe between crisis rising in Syria, ISIS threats, China being sketchy AF and Russia-well being Russia. And of course here in America, we’ve had our own dramatic problems exploding so much over the top this year that it feels like we can barely stand each other anymore!

And nothing is safe to have an opinion on anymore or a civil disagreement because someone will no doubt, be offended beyond the point of reconciliation(on either side).

I know that things could not have gotten much worse and I checked out mentally early on this year. 

I hate to sound so jaded or like a careless, typical millenial but I’ve just gotten tired of alllll of the BULL SH*T. And in the midst of all of the political, global BS I actually had my own personal tsunami wave of crashing BS to deal with. “Wave after wave”, as it felt this entire year.

Here’s a link to remind yourself of all of the world’s problems too:

2016 year recap in photos from USA Today

There has been more complacency, lack of regard for human life, lack of genuine kindness toward others, killing, racism, sexism, selfishness, and overall corrupt human behavior from across the globe shoved into one year..More than I think we could handle.

Now I’m not saying we all need to have a pity party or cry or freak out and keep spreading negativity and hate. NO.

Let’s Be Better. Let’s do something. Do something where you’re at NOW with what you have and your heart. Kindness, empathy, compassion, selflessness, love?? Those things are all free and guess what?

YOU ALREADY HAVE THEM. You choose to use those tools everyday. Don’t wait to start waking up on the right side of the bed on January 1st in a week. Start NOW!

Set up positive habits and a loving mindset wherever you are now!

Even if 2016 is almost done going down in flames for you; it is for most of us and that’s okay. Don’t burn with it. Watch your problems fade and move on, focus on the good you’ve been blessed with and carry it into 2017.

I don’t know about y’all but 2016 has been the most “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” kind of year in my young-adulting/millenial life so far:

  • I left my “safe” 8-5PM fulltime/salaried but underpaid job- huge risk. Uncertainty for income going foreward, what would I do now? More time to train and RUN? Yay!! What will society/my family/friends think or say about me?! *gasp* doesn’t fit the mold.
  • I got sponsored by Skechers Performance & started training more and truly devoting myself to my Running..then I got INJURED for the first time ever(like seriously take time off injured.) Depressed, out for over 6 weeks, scratched races, setback in spring/summer training.
  • Finally accepted being single and not needing/wanting to talk to my ex who I was hung up on for the longest time. It hurt to accept that sometimes people won’t respond the way you do or love you or treat you the same just because you do. And it’s not right to respond with negativity or hate, that’s immaturity. Move on & be happy(is it better to settle and have anyone at all just to be..? Not for me sorry.) 
  • I started to change careers and really believe all of the encouragement I got to become a personal trainer to help others believe in themselves too and to help them train their bodies and reach their goals!(so incredibly excited and it took me almost a whole year to get certified and pass my exam between running 50-65miles a week, being a poor adult, and working my butt OFF but I did it and landed my new job I start in January at the YMCA! Praise God)
  • I moved into a new, nice apartment with my best friend Kyle!(easiest decision of the year, hardest financially on me working the majority of the year part time!! While I invested my time into my training and prepping myself for my personal trainer career)
  • I fell and hit my head, passed out, got a concussion and lost my memory on my first long run the day after moving into my new apartment in the summer. Welcome home bitch!
  • Oh and this waste of time guy I was “talking to” for like 2 weeks in the summer-lied to me and said we never dated after I lost my memory and was concussed. Real f*ck boy. 2016 was full of those and fake friends too. 
  • I became the poorest I’ve ever been.literally paycheck to paycheck, struggling the most and having anxiety not because I’m bad with my money but I just don’t have a lot right now but I know with my new career I’ll be fine. This year was really hard on me financially learned a lot and grew up and faced new responsibilities. Sink or swim!
  • Ive had more car trouble in the span of 2 weeks thank anyone I know. I’ve had to buy a new tire. Bought a new battery after being stranded at work. Not one human offered to help me at the summit as they went about shopping. Cheers mankind thanks. Then a week later, discovered a tiny nail in my left rear tire. Had to buy new breaks and get all of this fixed Christmas week before coming home to see my family in Georgia. 
  • Regretfully lost touch with some close friends and found out the hard way who is actually there for me. Really hurt by some friends who totally dropped the ball on me but I grew up from that real quick this year.

I know I just highlighted a lot of what may seem like negative experiences from my 2016 and I’m not saying that the whole year was bad and I didn’t have any blessings. Of course I did and I’m even more thankful and hopeful going into 2017 for that. 

Because of the immense amount of stress, uncertainty, fear, physical pain, relationship turmoil, emotional struggle and change I went through this year; I’m more confident and assured of what I’m doing now and ready to go after 2017 with everything I got!

God has a great way of showing us that we are capable of much more than we feel. Just when I felt like I couldn’t take much more this year, something would happen that would challenge me, frighten me, piss me off or just flat out depress me.

I often just sat there not knowing what to pray or even feel like talking to God. But I know He knows my heart.

Then, I would remember every time before when I thought it was too much. God always made a way for me and strengthened me.

I was tested in so many ways this year and made the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been. But that’s how God grows us and we’re almost there. We have a few more days left in 2016. Let’s turn it around and make them count.

How do I control my breathing during exercise?(especially RUNNING!)

I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback lately on my #FitnessFriday posts, so thank you to all of my followers/readers/subscribers!!! 🙂 Y’all are making this such a joy for me and I can’t wait to have a full archive here for you.

For this week, the topic we will tackle is- BREATHING!!

Breathing is an extremely interesting because it’s controlled involuntarily while we sleep(thank God!) and a voluntarily while we do daily activities. It turns out that breathing while exercising isn’t as easy as breathing while you’re sitting there reading this now.


Last week, I was chatting with a friend of mine who wanted to start incorporating more running in his training. He mentioned that it was really difficult for him to manage his breathing and that he felt that really uncomfortable “burn” in his throat we’ve all had the displeasure of feeling before.

  • What’s the right/wrong way to breathe?

  • Why is breathing so hard when we run?

  • How can I adjust my breathing during exercise and does it get easier?

First, let’s talk about the importance of breathing when you run/or lift.

Breathing is just as important as any other bio mechanics you focus on when you run because it can effect your performance. If you have irregular or strained breathing, your body will respond by tightening up and throwing off your whole rythm during the run. If you’re stressed and don’t breathe evenly, you’ll tire yourself out and may have to stop the run completely. Hyperventilation or anxiety can be results of improper breathing as well.


So what’s the right way to breathe??

A lot of newer runners tend to breathe panicked and tighten their fists too much and cause stress on the body which hurts the breathing. Others only breathe through their nose when they run and just overthink the process little too much. Breathing is absolutely more difficult the less fit you are too.

Posture also directly effects breathing because if you don’t remain upright and with a stable core and fluid movements, you won’t get the amount of oxygen you need. If you’re hunched over, the oxygen will have a harder time entering the respiratory system and reaching the lungs and supplying blood to the muscles being used.

  • Breathe through your Diaphragm not your chest

Breath through your diaphragm instead of chest because you get more oxygen volume taken to your lungs than short, shallow chest breathes. You can also cause yourself to hyperventilate if you use chest breathing. It does take getting used to at first but, the more you do it the more it becomes innate. Try just sitting and taking three DEEP breathes and hold each for a few seconds and release. Feel the sensation and remember it when you workout.

  • Breathe through your nose and mouth

My friend also asked me whether he should breathe through his nose or mouth on runs. I said, “Well..your mouth is bigger” so you can get more oxygen that way. But really, it’s not like I’m running around with my mouth wide open on runs! On easy runs, you may only want to breathe through your nose if your body isn’t too stressed and you aren’t that fatigued. On hard runs and workouts, you may require deeper breathes and breathe through your mouth to try and gather the most oxygen uptake.

Bottom line here- your body will adapt to it’s own “correct” way through mouth or nose. I think you should do whatever is natural for you and helps your performance as long as you breathe through your diaphragm!! and maintain a relaxed upright position.


Why is breathing hard when we run?

If you’re a new runner or building your training from scratch, it will take longer to adjust to pushing your body during exercise. Breathing may “burn” when you run and you may not feel comfortable trying to find the right way to breathe at first. That “burning” sensation you feel is your body trying to gather all of the oxygen it needs to send to your lungs as you exercise. The burn will take a while to conquer but it won’t always be this hard!

Some people inhale and exhale at wrong  times for their perspective workouts or irregularly. That won’t completely trash your run or workout but think about how much more efficient you’d be if you slowed it down and focused on deeper, controlled breathes..

One of my college teammates(who was actually really talented) would always have labored, short, loud and sporadic breathing. Whenever she would run beside or near me, I was always bothered by it and wondered why? I didn’t want it to effect my breathing either!

She didn’t have any asthma or breathing issues that I knew of either but I think she really just didn’t breathe through her diaphragm smoothly.


How can I adjust breathing during exercise and does it get easier?

Not every run or workout will require the same breathing patterns. But it’s important to not tense up and actually focus on remembering to breathe until it becomes second nature to you. That may seem silly but I’ll explain why it’s more common than not.

Many people in the gym perform what’s called the valsalva maneuver, which is basically holding your breathe when working out. It’s understandable to get fixed on an exercise so much that we forget to inhale and exhale!

The fitter you are, the more you improve breathing by increasing v02max(the max amount of oxygen uptake during exercise). That’s how it becomes easier! If you improve breathing, you improve performance and v02max increases. This can take time at first, but yes it will get easier. I honestly don’t think about my breathing when I run unless it’s during a hard workout and I really need to focus on staying relaxed to hit my times.

Higher intensity workouts will cause breathing to become more taxed as the demand for oxygen increases. Think about a sprint compared to a distance race:

A sprinter’s breathes may be quicker and more intense and a distance runner’s may have more sustained and deeper breathes.

Breathing will not always syc perfectly with body movements too and that’s okay. Sometimes breathes come after specific movements.

Yoga is a great way to learn calming and patterned breathing techniques. If you can improve your breathing, you will lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, improve metabolic benefits and heart rate.

Whether you’re a pro or a newbie, breathing can be difficult at first but it’s certainly a good aspect of training to get right so you can improve!

 

 

 

What’s a foam roller…

..and how do I use it?

“Myofascial release”- basically a slow, gentle massage technique is used to relax the muscle fascia and help to break up tight muscle fibers.

 

Foam rolling is a self-induced myofascial release form that you can do yourself without any massage cream or lotion. You don’t need to be a seasoned athlete or medical professional to alleviate muscle tension and help your muscles feel better!

I started foam rolling and practicing self massage on my body during high school when I was an athlete and still continue to do it all the time as a post collegiate Runner.

You can use a foam roller, “stick”(rolling sticks/you can buy at running stores, Academy, or most sports stores and maybe even Wal Mart) or various sports balls like baseballs, lacrosse balls, golf balls(I’ll devote another post just for IP!). Most gyms have them sitting near the stretch mats or core area.

Foam rolling is meant to be done to only point of tightness or until you feel a little release after, not PAIN! You will feel it when you hit a knot or trigger point on one of your muscles when rolling. This helps the blood flow throughout your body and crunches all the sore tissues.

 

 I normally start sitting on my butt, roll my calves first,then my hamstrings and glutes..then my most favorite release- my back!!

After that, I turn over on my stomach and make sure to get my quads really good since those are pretty much always sore from training.

(A few areas people generally neglect doing that I do-gently roll my shins and feet/ankles on the foam roller).

Also, one of the most common “tight” spots on the body is your IT ban/iliotibial band that causes tension all the way from your hips down the side of your leg to your knee. I’ve had IT ban issues before, especially during track season as we go round and round the same turn.

It’s important to take care of these little aches because they can cause radiating pain and that can build soreness on top of already sore muscles everyday without relief.

Adjustments to foam rolling

Foam rolling does kind of hurt or feel hard to do when you start if you’ve never even heard of a foam roller! LOL.

My dad hates foam rolling. I always ask him how his runs went and when he tells me certain aches and pains I always ask-“did you foam roll?” NO. Always the answer I get.

Believe me, it feels amazing after a long day of work sitting or standing or after a tough and taxing workout. 

Even if you’re not a hard core athlete or don’t work out every day, foam rolling can still greatly benefit you and help you feel more relaxed and less stiff in daily life.
Most people don’t want to do foam rolling not just because it’s uncomfortable at first but because it takes too much time.

Yes- foam rolling requires moderate discomfort, patience and a little time. 

No- it doesn’t take longer than 5-10 min at least and does help your muscle recovery!!

You can foam roll longer if you want to focus on something that’s bothering you with a certain trigger point or you just want to relax and roll slow. And you can pretty much foam roll any part of your body that needs the relief, even your arms!

I’ll be posting a few videos of foam rolling techniques soon(once I find someone to follow me around and document my fitness.. LOL).

So for now, you’ll have to suffer with the simple video and pictures posted in this blog! ;P

I promise I’ll add more to my blog and YouTube channel once it’s up and I have more content in the near future. 🙂

Fitness Friday-Week#1 Dynamic or Static Stretching before exercise..?

 

 When I asked one of my co-workers about her warm up routine she does at the gym the other day…it occurred to me that many people still, simply do not know the proper way to warm up the muscles before exercise.

I had forgotten(being an athlete for over eight years and counting..) that most people still do static stretching and stiff body positions before they start their workouts. This is an old and wrong way of getting the body ready for whatever workout your about to get into. Most people either skip warm up stretches altogether or do a quick, stiff hold of only a few muscle groups before getting started. Both are not wise, for many reasons I’m about to delve into!

I’d like to FIRST tell you why you should do dynamic stretching BEFORE exercise and static AFTER. Then I want to give you some practical exercises of each that you can easily implement into any workout- in the gym or before a run/walk/bike outside.

So, what is Dynamic Stretching?

  

  • Dynamic stretching is essentially any stretch that you do while keeping your body moving as you follow through with a controlled range of motion
  • This type of stretching keeps the muscles elastic/loosened up if you will, also increases core temperature of the muscles- improving performance and reaction time
  • Doing dynamic stretching before exercise gets your body ready by mimicking the type of movement you will do in the workout
  • Since it’s all about controlled movement with the body, dynamic stretching increases proper form while effectively triggering the muscle contractions instead of stiffly elongating the muscle

What exactly is Static Stretching then..?

  

  • Static stretching involves holding a fixed position with a muscle from anywhere from 10-60 second holds. (should be between 15-30 sec. for most of us  but that’s a post for later!)
  • Static stretches elongate the muscles and relieve tightness after movement
  • Most of these stretches are held until point of tightness or discomfort(not pain!)
  • Static stretching is done while the body is at rest, not movement

Why is Dynamic Stretching more effective before?

Dynamic stretching is crucial in prepping the body for any workout because it significantly reduces the chance of an injury occurring. Implementing dynamic drills before your workout will prepare you for the types of body movements you’ll be doing and increases the range of motion you have around joints. It will make each movement you need to do in the workout much easier this way because it’s a similar movement you’ll be performing during exercise.

Think about it- You don’t just stand still in a fixed position for 30 seconds in a workout do you? …No! 

So shouldn’t your warm up correlate to the type of workout your given to do?

Here’s a great article I found on Runner’sWorld.com that gives you an idea of what some of these exercises might look like:  http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/a-dynamic-stretching-routine

Why is Static Stretching better for post workout?

Static stretching is an older and often misunderstood form of stretching. It’s a great way to lengthen the muscles and get a good stretch for tighter muscles by holding them and slowly stretching. It does increase the flexibility of muscles, but slower and not explosively.The whole point of a static stretch is to “relax” the body and stretch the warmed up muscles. So why would we want to relax the muscles before we need them to fire on all cylinders? We wouldn’t right?

Think of that groggy feeling you get in the early morning when you get out of bed or maybe the afternoon slump you get that makes the thought of working out at all that much harder. Static stretching will keep you relaxed, not increase your explosiveness.

In my opinion, static stretching makes me feel even sleepier and not amped up at all before a session. I used to do static stretching when I was younger all the time- before and after exercise because I didn’t know any better.

Now, I know the way my body reacts and what I need to do to get max performance out of my workouts. I need to be moving and stay warm!!

Dynamic stretching is really  a great catalyst in getting and keeping my muscles warmed up when I need them.

Think about a track meet:

Maybe you’ve been a spectator in the stands watching and see a bunch of athletes getting ready for their events. They can’t sit still!! They look like they’re hopping around, doing weird movements and you don’t get why they are moving so much and wasting energy BEFORE their race!!

They are participating in dynamic stretching! This active, constant movement is keeping the body temperature and muscles warmed up so they won’t pull something or feel shocked when the gun goes off.

Yes, dynamic stretching is the opposite of what you may “feel” like doing before exercise because of what you’ve known or done your whole life. BUT it’s the exact thing you need in your warm up routine to keep you from getting injured and maximize your performance.

If you can just add 5-10 minutes into your warm up for dynamic stretching, I know you’ll see immediate results. You’ll feel more energetic when your muscles fire, movements will feel more fluid and easier and your form will improve. All of these qualities will help to improve muscular flexibility, range of motion, form, strength and KEEP YOU FROM INJURY.

You don’t have to do a ton of exercises either or anything crazy and tiring. Just add a few, simple, CONTROLLED movements to your warm up and see how you feel before your next workout(In or Out of the weight room!)

There are also a variation of different stretching techniques you can do like- static-passive, active, dynamic-passive ect. But for the simplest goal of this post, I really wanted to discuss only the importance and difference between Dynamic and Static stretching.

Lastly, I will be adding more to this post later for you guys & adding some pictures for you to compare what I mean and adding videos too when I get a chance to film soon. I want my blog to have a special fitness section for you so that you all can use this as a tool and reference for your own training a growth!

I appreciate all of my readers following my posts as I further my fitness journey and improve myself and become more knowledgeable and share what I already know and practice for you to use as well.

Please comment on this with any questions or anywhere I post this blog or share it yourself! I want feedback and also more questions about health&fitness to spark my next #FitnessFriday Post<3 #LoloRunsFit