Cold Season Fights Dirty. So should we.

Last week I started coughing.  It was a painful cough that started in my chest and then tickled me right up through my throat.  “NO, NO, NO!” I grumbled, “I CAN’T GET SICK!” But I did.  I felt deflated as I backed off running for the weekend and even more weary as I went into a 12 hour work day on Monday, knowing I wasn’t resting but I also wasn’t running.

One of the reasons I despise being sick is that it forces me to think about, “WHY?” The answer that comes to mind most often is stress.  Stress comes in many forms–poor diet, lack of sleep, heavy training, difficult life situations, expectations that are too high, worry, etc.  Stress weakens our immune system and leaves us vulnerable to germs.
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My friend Emily and the other MJ.

Wow! Its been a while since my last post and I feel like a little piece of me is missing.  It hit me hard on Friday when I was subbing in a 4th grade classroom that was straight up gangsta’ and I thought, “HOLY SMOKES!  I would so rather be writing right now!”  I was instructed to hit the emergency panic button if there were any fights or a kid “bolted”.  I hit it about 5 times during the day!  I was feeling sort of horrible, like I have no classroom management skills but as it turns out, this was a day just like any other day in that class!  The poor teacher, bless her heart, is at her end.

Anyway, its been busier than normal since I started subbing to complement the income I’m making from tutoring.  I’m squeezing my runs and workouts in and preparing meals in record time so I still have time to sleep and play with the people I moved all the way back across the world to be near!

Meanwhile, February is FLYING by and March begins next week and then its the home stretch to South Africa and 2Oceans!  Speaking of which, I came down with a little chest cold this week and I’m super paranoid about where it may go (last time I got a chest cold in Korea it spiraled out of control into several months of bronchitis, lots of missed runs, and a marathon that nearly killed me.  I am bound and determined to not let it happen this time!

This morning, I was supposed to do a 15 miler.  I woke up after 12 hours of sleep (recovering from my day worrying about getting shanked by 10 year olds +a cold) and was feeling less than wonderful.  I looked outside and saw a the trees blowin’ and thought, “I will certainly drop dead if I run outside today.”  Yes, a little dramatic but I have horrible flash backs to a run I did in Korea that ushered in the months of sickness, the last mile I walked and was coughing so hard I thought my lungs would come up–all the Koreans put on their masks when I passed (talk about embarrassing).

I subjected Josh to my self-talk, reassuring myself I was making the right choice–“I have the endurance, I’m fit now, right?  All I need to do is stay healthy and maintain my current fitness and I’ll be hundreds (South African for kick ass) at 2Oceans, right?  I shouldn’t subject my body to too much stress when I’m not feeling good, right? I can always hop on the treadmill at my parents this afternoon if I’m feeling up to it, right”  Notice how I ended every sentence with “right?” looking for reassurance.

Not only do we share a love for running but also for drinking red wine out of funny Korean cups...and taking breaks with nature.

A while later I got a text from my friend Emily.  She started running last spring and will be traveling to South Africa with me and running the half marathon at 2Oceans.  Her text said, “13!” It was her longest run yet, and the the distance she will be racing in South Africa in April.  Her text not only filled me with joy for her (I LOVE when the people I love fall in love with running–that’s a lot of love), but it also inspired me.  It gave me the little bit of added energy I needed to get on the treadmill and get an easy 90 minute jaunt in.  I wore shorts and a tank top and pretended that the sun coming through the window was actually warm while I listened to Michael Jackson rock, “I’m bad, I’m bad, I know I’m really bad…” and told myself over and over how much of a bad ass I am.

MJ (not me, the other MJ) taught me something last week on my long run.  He taught me that its just as important to believe you’re a bad ass as it is to be humble.  Equal parts of both will take you where ya want to go.  I even caught myself giving myself the “You’re a bad ass” talk on the way to my first day of subbing in a high school math class.  I’m telling you, it totally works.

I know I’ve been taking a few bunny trails today, but what I’m trying to say is: 1)  Know when to rest and be okay with changing your training plans, and 2)Believe in yourself.  Have the humility to say, “Dang, this is hard…” but the confidence to say,  “but that’s what makes me such a bad ass because I’m going for it (whatever “it” may be–it could be a nap)”.

Strawberry and Candied Walnut Salad–for your Valentine

On Saturday, we celebrated my Grandpa’s 80th birthday at a seafood restaurant in Seattle.  Due to the lack of non-fish/animal items of the menu, I ordered not one but TWO salads (one for a starter and the other for my main meal)!  They were both delicious but the second one– spinach with strawberry and candied walnuts (hold the cheese, please!) was inspiring.

On Monday, my cousin came over for her birthday lunch (we have lots of birthdays this month) and I decided to make a similar salad for her.  I had left over candied walnuts so I thought it would make a pretty Valentine’s Day salad.  So I made it again!

It is really simple to candy your own walnuts.  Here’s how it goes:
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Fab Abs Tip #4: Love your Liver

What does loving your liver have to do with fab abs? Your cute little liver is a  busy body organ, responsible for ridding your body of nasty toxins as well as breaking down and metabolizing fat.  In our modern world, jam packed with chemicals and pollutants, our livers get a serious workout before we even start ingesting food and beverage.

Then comes the processed food.Yikes.  Processed food can do so some very unloving stuff of our systems (think blood sugar, adrenal glands/cortisol levels, etc. but our livers are really being stressed when we start pumping that packaged, expires 3013, mystery food into our bods. You know all those words on the package you can’t pronounce/don’t really know what they are (high fructose corn syrup isn’t really a food)?  Well, your lovely liver doesn’t know what they are either.  It screams, “All men on deck!  Drop anything that is not crucial to survival and filter this gunk out! aaaaaaahhhhhh!  Mayday! Mayday!”  Or something along those lines.  So, it starts filtering like  mad–to rid your body of the toxins–and it stops doing its other important jobs like metabolizing fat.  uh-oh, spaghetti-o.
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Fab Abs Tip #3: Examine Your Day

How can examining your day help you have fab abs?  If you are anything like me, there is probably a part of your day when you are more prone to bad habits.  For me, this time comes in the evening.  I’ve eaten dinner, I’m in my PJ’s, it’s cold and dark outside but it’s not time to go to bed.

So what do I do?  I snack and sit around.  I’m not hungry, I just don’t have anything else particuarly exciting to do so I eat.  Eating out of boredom is not great for fab abs.  To solve this problem/break this habit, my focus has to move beyond just not eating after dinner if I’m not hungry.  I need a healthier habit to replace this not so healthy habit.

Here are some of the ideas I’ve come up with to replace my late night munching/laziness:

  • take an evening yoga class
  • join an indoor climbing gym
  • go for a walk–night time walks are fun!
  • start a project
  • take a class
  • read with a cup of tea–this stimulates my mind while soothing me in preparation for sleep at the same time!

So far, I’ve been going for walks.  I’m not super comfortable going alone in our neighborhood after dark but Josh has been keen to go with me thus far!  Its a 2for1- quality time with Josh and its healthy for my body. Sometimes its just a stroll to the grocery store to grab some produce for the next day and other days its a full hour of exploring. I also started a “vision board” with some of the things I want to incorporate into my life (more of this another day).  Right now, I’m sort of about the free or really cheap activities but hopefully soon I’ll also take some evening yoga classes or something of that nature.

What time of the day do you find that you are least intentional/fall into unhealthy habits?  What kinds of things do you do in the evening to stay healthy?  Especially in the winter?



When I’m feelin’ Sassy–Fab Ab Tip #2

Tip #2:  Build strength! Now that you’ve got your cardio going and your burning fat, its time to build some strength!  Muscles are way more efficient than flab.  Having a strong core not only looks lovely in a bathing suit, but it protects you from getting injured!  So, put in a little burn time!

When I’m feeling sassy, I switch up my workout and throw this one into the mix.  Since this is Fab Abs February and I want some seriously Fabulous Abs, I’m going to do this every few days, increasing by one set each time.  Here’s how it goes…

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Fab Abs February?

This stuff slows ya down...

I don’t typically get into these monthly themes but I saw something about Fab Ab February the other day and it reminded me that I really have some work to do to get my core in the shape I desire it to be in.  I’m not about to bust out of my pants or anything but I have noticed that my clothes are as comfortable lately.  So, for the month of February (what’s left of it)  I’ll be sharing some tips on for getting our abs (and the rest of our core) looking and feeling strong and lean!  And I’ll be doing the work with you!

There are multiple factors that come into play when we talk about about a strong/lean/flat stomach.  Doing situps and the sorts will help but what you eat (gasp) and what you do for cardio (another gasp) are huge proponents in how much fat vs muscle you store on your body.  When it comes to burning fat, our bodies don’t let us choose specific areas. For example, I want to lose some fat off my core but there really isn’t a way to fat blast that area (at least not one that doesn’t involve knives, tubes, and nastiness being sucked off your body).  If you want to lose fat on my stomach or anywhere else for that matter, you need to focus fat burning as a whole.
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