10 Tips and Tricks – Staying Motivated

motivational-quotes-14It is hard to stay motivated to exercise and on track all the time. People struggle with this all the time, I had major struggles with motivation in the last 12 months. For much of the year of 2012 I was not able to train at the level that I had obtained in the year of 2011. I missed exercise, that feeling of setting goals and achieving them and as many of you are aware due to a number of surgeries, medical complications and fatigue, I felt like 2012 went incredibly fast and many of my fitness goals were unable to be met.

Welcome in 2013. Understandably every new year many people want to get fitter, lose weight and shape up. Many people have these goals as a New Years Resolutions, so my question to myself is “How committed are you to your goals this year Lin?

Honestly, How committed  I am to my quest of losing another 10kg and becoming the fittest I possibly can be? Am I willing to turn of the tv and leave the house in all sorts of weather. Will I get off the couch and get to a training session. Will I sacrifice that ice cream, chocolate, cheese or wine to make sure I am fuelling my body well? Will I commit to ride to work getting up earlier and pushing on days when it would be easier to drive?

My motives or motivation WILL influence my practices. How I play out my year will determine if I make my goals of weight loss, fitness, half marathons and triathlon’s. But getting back my fitness and maintaining it will take discipline, it will take planning, and it will need to be fun!

I know for myself that as soon as something loses interest for me, when it stops being fun and starts being dull – I AM OUT. With this in mind I thought that I would brainstorm what helped me stay motivated at my peak in 2011 and what kept me going in 2012 when I was on a modified program.

1. Variety, Variety, Variety – Just like location in real estate I believe that changing up your routines, finding a number of activities you like will assist in keeping attitudes fresh and sparking interest. I like to mix up different activities, running, hikes, cycling, swimming, cardio sessions, weights, yoga, boxing, rock climbing. And within each choice you can change distances, difficulty, times. Our minds love new things and it helps to keep a sense of freshness in our lives.

2. Routine, Routine, Routine – While it may seem contrary to what I have just written, there is also a time for being consistent,  having routine and repeating some routes, distances, reps, times etc. This allows us to know what is expected, and compare our results over time. Our brains can take a breather, zone out and know what to expect, and how we will likely perform – this can especially be important when using exercise as stress relief, the brain and body know what to expect so it feels easier to get out the door.

3. Measurement & Data – I love to collect data in relation to my goals and fitness. I find it helps me compare my results over time. It helps me determine how far I can push, how much I’ve improved and what I need to work on. Not all people are turned on by data, but for me it is an important tangible outcome that I can see. You don’t need a fancy watch, most phones have apps that track distances walked, calories burnt, Or just noting the time and distance can work… In addition to that weight and body measurements are great at tracking changes in your body. I encourage doing both given the scale doesn’t show centimetres lost.

4. Planning & Prep – Having everything laid out and ready to go can make things a little easier to get out the door. Having the iPod, and Heart Rate Monitor charged are key for me. If either of these are flat, I know I am less likely to get out for a run. Similarly making sure my bike is in good working order, that I check tire pressures the night before means I will likely ride rather than spend the time pumping my tires while the sun is up. Prep reduces excuses.  Planning your workouts and increases in distance, weight, reps etc shows you what you are working towards.

5. Keep a Positive Mindset – No victims in the house please… If you don’t want to go, you will find an excuse. I often have to talk myself up. I remind myself how much I love it, that I have never regretted working out (even when I have thrown up after going to hard). I used to live with a victim mentality, it is an easy mind set to slip into… I have to remind myself to never give up, keep pushing and stay strong. If you can’t run, walk, if you can’t walk – lift some weights, can’t do that, find something you can do. A former colleague and a bit of a fitness guru (Mary Anne) is an inspiration to me, she is currently injured and while it gets her down on occasion (as posted on FB) she continues to push and do what she can, swim, lift weights and whatever else she can do to maintain her fitness. She does the best she can, with what she’s got until she can do more… There is something in that for all of us..

6. Time – You DO have time to work out… No matter who you are and how busy you are it can be done. Take every opportunity to move, maximise your time where you can. Perhaps this could mean cycling to work, it may increase your commute a little, but it’s maximizing time otherwise spent sitting on your ar$e. No time still, how much time do you spend watching TV? Cut that out and notice all the time you have to engage your brain and your body. I can hear some people say, but I have kids, it’s hard to leave the house – well take them with you, the park is a great place for step ups, a short walk, kicking the soccer ball. Can’t do that – well stay at home turn on the TV and grab a yellow pages phone book and do step ups on that for an hour while you watch that show – no cost, at home while the kids are in bed.

7. People – Sometimes I like working out by myself, other times a bit of camaraderie and competition is fun too. I love group training. I go to an outdoor group fitness training club through a group called Step into Life. This works for me on a couple of levels, a little competition, accountability, like-minded fit people who encourage your goals, and a positive exercising environment where everyone is encouraged. This is better than a gym as you are often paired with people and you talk to them!! If group sessions aren’t your thing, find a team, or a club, or just a friend who you can play with!

8. Events – While I acknowledge this is not important to everyone, for me having something to be working toward is helpful.  It could be an organised running event or bike ride, fights or gradings in boxing/martial arts or even a weekly game in team sport. Events and time framed performance can make sure that the other training you are doing during the week and in the lead up is focused; it helps create context and meaning.

9. Rest – I am including this because if you fail to rest you run the risk of injury and not allowing your body to heal properly as you build it up. Sometimes I find this hard. When I am in the zone, I want to push everyday… But disciple in training means listening to your body and a rested healthy body will ensure your mind and body are ready to meet the challenge and be consistent in your program. Burnout will only lead to more time away trying to recover from an injury and becoming disheartened.

10. Do what you love… Honestly this is the key, it comes back to the idea of fun I spoke about at the start. When did we stop “playing” like children and start “working out”.  If you don’t like running, please do something you love. This does not mean sit on the couch and eat junk food because you love to lie about and fill your gob with imitation food!!  If you love team sports, join a team. For pity’s sake figure out what works for you, what turns you on, floats your boat… Don’t do it because you think everyone will admire you, or it is the “cool” exercise of the minute if you hate it, you just won’t last and it will likely further disenfranchise you and stop you developing a solid fitness base. All that being said, trying different exercises is a bit like eating your veggies as a kid, you have to try it and give it a go sometimes before you know if you like it…

Alright that’s it for me…Mega long post ekk!  I mean there are heaps of other things I could say, use music, wear fun new clothes, reward yourself ra ra rah…. But honestly even with all these tips, the people who are most likely to stay with a program are those that are internally or intrinsically motivated; i.e Motivated from within –  it has to do with their attitude and perception. I believe that finding the pay off for ourselves and embedding that into our psyche allows us to draw on inner strength when everything else fails.

Till next time, Lin xox

The Pain Game

06_21Figure-UI believe that there is difference between types of pain. Clearly dental pain is not cool, nor twisted ankle for that matter, But delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) well, to me that feels like good pain, it’s a pain you earn…mind you it is still pain.

I went back to my first weight / toning  session last week on Tuesday night, after months off training it was hard work… During the session I felt great – my body was working again, lifting, crunching, squatting, sit ups, push ups and as unfit as I felt, the pain and hard work during the session felt great.

Then I woke up Wednesday, and talk about sore… DOMS is a condition that occurs after exercise. The theory is that the muscles after eccentric exercise  (where the muscle is lengthened during contractions) are damaged, and that these small microscopic tears or ruptures are healing with new tissue, and that this process is what builds up muscle.

DOMS can be mild or severe, and to be honest after this session it  has been the worst I can remember EVER!.  It lasted a week, finally I woke up today (Tuesday) and finally felt OK. After the first 72 hours after training I couldn’t roll over in bed, I could barely walk down steps, and whenever I moved I hurt all over, legs, butt, arms, chest, core…

Today I woke up feeling good, and knew it would be back to training again today to continue to build up my body, I wanted to add cardio, and I wanted to get the legs ticking over again for a short run.  So I decided that I would go for a quick 2km run before a weights and toning sess, then go home… but in the end after the weights session I ended up staying to do another session, but a cardio this time.

Once I decide to do something, I go for it, when I commit I like to go hard… I suppose compared to when I first started seriously training that I know that I can push myself mentally and I know what my body is capable of… I ask myself with every set, every rep, every distance to push. My mental game is still strong, It thinks it can achieve anything, and has forgotten a little that my body is not where it was (yet.)

This time last year my body was the fittest and strongest I think that I have ever been, but fast forward a year, and missing months of training, dealing with the surgeries and health issues, well to put it simply my fitness and strength is in the toilet! My weight has been somewhat stable, but I feel unfit, and I want it back… My legs felt like lead when running today, the weights felt heavy, and in the cardio session my right quad muscle just felt super fatigued…

Honestly I possibly pushed it a little too hard last Tuesday, it hurt to walk and I couldn’t roll over in bed or move well. A week to recover is a little extreme, but I enjoyed the exercise and sessions today, and will continue to build up my fitness again. I may have pushed again too hard today, but there is a pleasantness in the pain – knowledge that the pain is building me up again, that I am on the right track, that I am getting stronger. My aim is to re-build my functional strength and fitness this year, to run another half marathon, to participate in another triathlon later in the year… It is going to be a big year…

2013 lets see what you got!!

Till next time , Lin xox

Getting back together…

I know that it has been a while since we caught up, months actually, and If I’m honest, I was a little nervous about tonight, and I wasn’t sure it would be the same, feel the same.

I know that when things got hectic, and I got sick – I let us slip…  That’s why coming back was so hard. What if it wasn’t the same? You know we had great times together. What if something else comes between us again?

I made the decision to see you at the last minute. I think it was so I wouldn’t talk myself out of meeting. My stomach was a knot, my head a bit of a mess… What if doesn’t feel as good as the last time, what if the magic was gone…

I wore the outfit you like, Ha, no, You don’t really care what I wear do you? You just want me to turn up. I think I wore that outfit for me, I always feel great in that top and those pants – ready to take on the world, confident, strong…

Before I know it, the dream is reality again. We are together, my knees start to shake, I kind of stumble, and I am slow, but slow can be good, right? I know I am rusty, but the rhythm comes back, my arms, legs, hips all start to work in sync – it feels wrong, but right at the same time, such a cliché!

After a while I realize I am so tense, Damn, I know I am over thinking this. I just want it to be good, like it used to be –  like I used to be. I use a little mantra, relax Lin, relax, I feel the tension in my shoulders go, then I relax some more – just feeling every moment with you…

When we finish I can feel those endorphins kickin’ round in my system, I almost forgot how good it could feel – just you and me…

My body quiets down, the feel good wearing off as my heart rate returns to normal. I am lying on the bed, and it starts; I know you never criticise me, – it’s never you – but the doubts creep in, and those critical voices come out to play,

“You started out too fast, your pace was off.”

“There was no rhythm – towards the end you were lagging, you know you were.”

“HA the ending, well you didn’t…you didn’t finish well dear”…

I almost scream, SHUT UP! – But it is now 2:30am and the apartment below would probably hear… So I scream it in my head… I remind myself, it’s ok to be rusty, it’s been a while, and that you don’t care, It doesn’t matter how long I lasted, or that my rhythm was off, that I was slow, or so hot and sweaty at the end that it was a little embarrassing…

What matters is that I came back to you tonight, in the wee hours of the morning, I came back to you, and you welcomed me with open arms, no judgment, no laughter, no “You should have come back sooner”.

You don’t judge me, never have, never will, and that, that is why I love you Running.

Lin xox

10km training run; Hill Running.

Today was my longest run since surgery… And I feel great.  I actually don’t mind running hills. I like the satisfaction of beating them, and while I don’t actually carry a stick, I do beat them in my mind with a big, big stick.

Up at 7am this morning, a little reluctant to get out of bed, but I got out from under that warm doona and I headed down to the coast.

Mount Eliza has some great hills for running and our trainer mapped a course that is challenging and makes you work.

The first 1.5km is up a hill, a long gradual climb of roughly 70m in elevation. It keeps going after a short reprieve up a few more hills to roughly 80m elevation, then back down to sea level… It was a 5km course that we got to do twice… As the Run Melbourne Half Marathon is a twice around course, this is how we train.

So after I did it once, it was back to that long gradual hill, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I did not stop once this morning, I did not walk any hill or section of the run (with the exception of the slippery set of stairs) I might have been the slowest in my group, but I am not competing against any one, just myself, and my mind.

When running hills I may slow down a little, but I don’t stop and I don’t walk – I keep that running action and use my glute muscles like pistons to push me up the hills. It is not how fast you are, It is not about who beats you, it is about getting it done! and today, well I got it done!

Hill runs are great for building power and endurance into your legs because as you run you are using your body weight as resistance up the hills. I have found in the past that after a hard hill run, I run better the next week. It improves my strength and then when I go back to flats I notice an improvement in my time.

It would be easy to take the easy option when planning training runs and avoid the big hills, or map an easier route, but I encourage all you runners out there to put in some hill work every couple of weeks and notice how it improves your running. Here are a few tips; Make sure you warm up properly before setting out. Drop your regular speed a little on the hill and take a shorter stride. On the down hill avoid placing your foot way out in front and opening up the speed, while this is tempting this can cause a lot of stress to be placed through your knee and makes you more prone to injuries. Listen to your body and if your heart rate is climbing then slow the pace down a little but try to keep up the running action because this is not about speed as much as getting it done!

Finally – stretch out properly after the run, take your time to add a few more stretches over the day and the next day… and allow your body some time to recover before your next run.

Here is a good article from Runner World too!  Can Hill Running Make You Faster?.

Till next time, Lin xox

PS – I am no Dr, so if you are starting to run make sure you get cleared to exercise and all that jazz, don’t just listen to me!

Coping & Routine

We all have strategies that we utilise to cope with navigating our world. I was discussing this idea earlier in the week and reflecting upon some of my personal practices.

Coping mechanisms can be healthy and unhealthy.  Having a big night out with a few too many drinks and bad moves on the dance floor can be good to let off some steam, drinking by yourself every night not healthy… Eating a bowl of ice-cream after  hard day not too bad occasionally; eating the tub, a large pizza and a packet of cookies (in one sitting), not so good.

Exercising is a healthy option, often under utilised and under estimated. Studies have shown that even a simple 30 min walk each day can help in improving mood and decreasing some of the symptoms of depression. I wrote recently about not being able to run (which is my personal preferred coping mechanism now). When this was off the table, I slipped into some unhealthy coping strategies and ate more than I usually would, in particular foods that I attempt to limit.

Part of the reason that I believe that I went back to older patterns quicker was that I hadn’t re-established my exercise routine after surgery in February. I wasn’t back to training until April, the routine wasn’t solid yet, the routine didn’t have enough time to solidify prior to the confluence of life situations that lead to me feeling overwhelmed. Here is the key… Pattern and Routine.

Pattern and Routine are essential for us to be able to navigate through each day and keep our emotions, thoughts and feelings in a state of relative order. To be in a space of emotional safety and allow us to move through life and cope with what the world flings at us. When our pattern and routines are not established, take a hit or become disrupted we can fall back into easier or older coping mechanisms.

Recently, when my “Perfect Storm” of stressors rose up it wiped me, my running and my exercise out. This lead to falling back into old thinking and patterns – Honestly, this scared the crap out of me. I have worked hard over the past 4 years to move the weight and change my patterns of coping. While I didn’t completely fall off the wagon or relapse – I felt a little out of control and that I was trying to hold onto water with it only to run straight through my fingers.

This got me thinking – There will likely come a time when I am faced with another “Perfect Storm” of stressors. That is just the way of the world; we cannot (despite trying) control all the factors of our lives. This has pushed me to think about extending my coping mechanisms and routines to include other healthy coping mechanisms on a regular basis.  This will allow me to build into my routine new coping mechanisms and use them on a regular basis, so, that if the day comes that I am not able to run or walk, or move as I would like, I will have another healthy way of working through the stress, thoughts, feelings and emotions. It is a bit like exercising a muscle, the more you train and work that muscle the stronger it becomes. I need to exercise new coping strategies, make them strong and build them into my life.

So my question to myself and one that you can ask yourself is this; What do I enjoy that can become a solid practice in my life  (part of my routine) that will allow me to cope and deal with the stressors of life in a healthy way?

Some ideas for me to explore are having focusing methods and projects,  understanding meditative practice better, and incorporating reading and writing as reflective practice.

I would be interested in reading your ideas or thoughts about this so feel free to leave a comment.

Till next time, Lin.

Hard Days Week… No excuses

It has been a tough 10 days. A few little setbacks along the way, some soul-searching, and a reality check have all been in there.  I had a great fun day with friends today and I am doing ok, but instead of a hard days night it has been roughly 10 days worth of crap. But the point of this blog post is not to gather sympathy, it is to be real with myself and my readers…

I may blog about some of the crap that has gone down later in the week; and while it is safe to say while I am doing a lot better with all the obstacles put in my way, I have fallen off the food wagon a little.

I am writing this post, because some people assume that I have all of my food and eating patterns together now. Well people, that is a fallacy. I still have my days where I lean towards eating through emotions…Most of the this behaviour is in the past, But compounded issues on issues resulted in me taking a side step into this dangerous territory.  Ice cream is not my friend, and it slides through my band like hot butter. With all its evil sugar, carbs and calories.

The hardest part is I am not supposed to run at the moment until I get a medical clearance (Thursday can’t come quick enough)… And running makes me feel good, helps me deal with stress and as I have stated many times re-aligns my head. No running equals Naughty Lin trying to come out to self sabotage with ice-cream and carbs. Not helpful.

A friend had on her Facebook the other day this little gem of a statement (thanks MAE)

This is truth… It is about making wise choices everyday.  So what if I can’t run at the moment… I can walk, and I can walk for hours if I need too, I can lift weights, and go to yoga… Running may be my favourite exercise, but I can go low intensity for a while. Everything else is an excuse, I have had enough excuses for a lifetime, I am done with them… So my resolution, me being accountable to me (and anyone who reads this),  I intend to choose wisely again, focus on me again – and let all the other crap fall to the way side.

Till next time, Lin xox

Crazy…No just committed

Love this Quote

I got called “Crazy” tonight. Just because I wanted to go home after shift and run, and that it was likely to be still raining,. Many of you know that I have a habit, a pattern of coming home after shift and doing my running then. I have blogged about it, I have talked about it, I like it. Running in the wee hours of the morning works for me. I can unwind from work, push it all out and leave it on the pavement.

It was wet again tonight. I am not a fan of working in the rain. I work outside and wear 5 – 6 layers of clothing which consists of wool thermal tops, singlets, hoodies, t-shirts, and wind/water proof jackets. Whilst I don’t like spending hours walking around the city in the rain, I make every effort to stay as dry as possible, no one wants to be wet for hours, then drive home wet and cold.

But running – that is different. It is a time framed thing. I did 5.5km this morning. When I got home it wasnt raining, by the time I changed and walked outside it was the slow steady drizzle rain that soaks you through. I ran anyway, I said earlier I would run, even if it was raining. I did. I like it when it drizzles like this. I feel that my body stays cool, it is not crazy – it is committed. Plus when you get back home and you can deal with the wet then…

Crazy is sitting on the couch making excuses.

Crazy is the way i used to live, – if you could call it living, looking back i can’t, it was more of a sad existence. I was sick, tired, obese, stuck and making excuses… That was what was crazy, that Lin was lost – She was crazy and all her systems were unhealthy.

SO – if i tell you about my training, it is not crazy, it is committed. If I tell you about my events coming up and trying to squeeze them all in, it is not crazy it is taking life with both hands and living it with vigour.

I am not crazy – I am committed – committed to living a full and healthy life, having fun – and realise that to have a healthy mind and emotional life I first must live a physically healthy life. Running in the rain – that is just the tip of the iceberg. Being stronger and healthier is my goal… weight loss is the natural by-product of living a committed healthy lifestyle.

My goals at the moment are to work towards getting back to running a 10km before the 15th of May, strengthening my core, and improving on my shoulder and upper body strength after surgery. I am still having a little discomfort and pain with the arms and tummy… Not all the time – but strength is the key and working with the physio is helping.

So dear readers, find your commitment, call it crazy if you like… In fact I think I will embrace the word crazy now – Yep call me crazy; crazy about being healthy, fit and strong enough to live the life I want.

BTW the run was awesome! the key when running in the rain is getting home, stripping off the wet gear straight away and jumping into a warm shower. Now for sleep…

Till next time, Crazy Lin xox