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Let’s All Just Chill out on the Resolutions

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It’s almost Christmas. Which means it’s almost New Year’s. And we all know what that means. RESOLUTIONS. At least this is what my social media feed tells me.

I once dated a guy who liked to joke that his New Year’s resolution was to “keep up the good work.” I thought that was pretty great. But perhaps you’re contemplating something a little more… specific.

As the owner of a fitness business I feel like I owe you some words of inspiration. That’s all it’s going to be today – words. I will not be offering any cleanses or secret strategies to melt away fat. I most definitely will not be jumping around in a sports bra and booty shorts for your viewing pleasure. I know. I can feel you’re disappointment through cyber space. But it’s way too cold for that. I’m barely scrounging up the motivation to go to yoga because I know I will have to take off my socks. Seriously.

So instead of a sexy video I offer you this. Click To Tweet

Consider that you are already beautiful. You are already loved at your current size and shape. Sit with that for a minute. You are already loved. It’s possible to believe this and still want to change. But ask yourself, what do YOU want? For yourself. If we let go of external expectations, how would our resolutions change?

And then consider that often times we make decisions subconsciously. At least this has been my experience. We’re taught that sticking with something is a matter of discipline. But conscious discipline must be supported by our underlying values. If you’re having trouble committing to an exercise plan it could be because, at a subconscious level, it’s just not all that important to you. And that’s okay.

I have friends that make a point to stay abreast of current affairs. I have friends who make-believe play with their children. I have friends who shower. As much as I respect my friends for having these habits, the reality is I just don’t see the value in regular exfoliation.

The good news is our values change. I didn’t always love running. Before I tried yoga, I had never done yoga. If you want to try something new I would encourage you to start small. For a minute there I considered giving up added sugar for a year. And then I ate a cookie and told myself to chill the fuck out. Let’s all just chill out on the resolutions.

And then I ate a cookie and told myself to chill the fuck out. #newyear #resolution Click To Tweet

Training for, say, a 2K would be a really great way to start running. If that sounds appealing you might want to subscribe to the blog. I’ll have something for you next week! If that’s not your thing, don’t sweat it (pun intended). We all have a different path to travel.

Whatever you choose to do, please. Be kind to my friends. Let’s not create resolutions as a way to punish ourselves (i.e. “I’m finally going to haul my fat ass to the gym.”). Let’s not beat ourselves up when we miss a workout. Because we will miss one. We are human and life happens, after all. Those Christmas presents aren’t going to wrap themselves! If you get off track, kindly re-evalute your goals. And if it makes sense, come up with a different plan that better serves you.

That’s my plan for 2017. What’s yours?

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The 12 Days of Christmas Meditation

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This is kind of a difficult time of year, isn’t it? I mean, it’s the most wonderful. But it’s also kind of difficult, isn’t it?

I keep hearing about the tough times my friends and family and their loved ones are having. The hard workers overwhelmed by all the things that just absolutely have to get done by the end of the year. The friend who was just in a car accident. The mother who doesn’t know how she can afford Christmas for her kids. The high school student who just lost her dad.

And I’ve been feeling really stressed and conflicted over whether or not to send out Christmas cards this year. Okay, maybe that doesn’t feel like a big deal anymore.

The point is we could all use a little less and little more right now. Less to-dos, fewer expectations, more love and ease. Maybe that’s why my husband is watching Chill with Bob Ross right now. How curious that the stroke of a brush, the blending of red and white to creamy pink actually feels good.

It’s the simplicity of it I think.

I had an idea tonight while I was putting my Baby Girl to bed. While I was stroking her hair and breathing deep breaths, her back pressed up against my stomach. For the next 12 days before Christmas I’d like to dedicate my meditation practice to someone else. Twelve someones actually. One for each day.

Do you or someone you know need a little less or a little more? Let me know. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly, feel free to tell me privately and I’ll keep it to myself. Or maybe you’d like to join me in celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas Meditation. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

 

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Not a Great Day

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“I am so angry now. I’m seething. My mouth is taut, teeth grinding. My fists are clenched. My 18 month old is screaming. Mostly because I don’t have it in me to show her affection right now. I’m not proud of this, but it’s the truth.”

That is all the more I wrote during the 2.5 hours I set aside to write this afternoon. Baby Girl fell asleep on the 10 minute drive to Big Sister’s preschool and decided that was going to be enough for her.

That’s not entirely true. She did eventually wear herself out crying and crashed on my chest. It took me another 20 minutes or so of chanting mantra before I was able to forgive her. I know she doesn’t understand. That’s just not always enough.

I spent the remaining hour screwing around with my work email. I worried about a lot of things when I started this business, but let me tell you. The technicalities of sending an email was not one of them.

The doorbell rang exactly one minute before I needed to leave to pick up Big Sister from school. Baby Girl woke up with a start and exclaimed, “Oh no! Door!” Oh no was right. Santa via Grandma via Amazon left four packages on our doorstep and one was the size of a refrigerator. So I frantically dragged the refrigerator* downstairs and hid it in our storage room while Baby Girl yelled and cried over the jolt awake.

And would you believe it? There was another big box sitting on the front porch when we arrived home from preschool pickup. I know I should be grateful for all the gifts. I mean, really, talk about first world problems. But I just wasn’t feeling the box stashing frenzy today. Especially when I’m tripping over all the crap we already have.

A cardboard dinosaur from a Chick-fil-A kid’s meal. Glitter pens missing caps. Five or ten or fifty Ziplock bags, each filled with 3-5 pieces of confetti. About 500 million pictures, artistic creations of Big Sister’s, each so special that we cannot get rid of a single one. Shiny rocks and dried leaves. Old Lego catalogs. An egg carton filled with sand. Miscellaneous barrettes and hair ties. Days old sippy cups and dry Cheerios. All of it just strewn about. Crap layered atop layers of more crap. Crap layered atop layers of more crap. #kids #toomuchstuff Click To Tweet

And to top it all off is…

THE LAUNDRY.

My neighbor watched the girls for a couple hours later in the afternoon so I could go to yoga. On my drive there I thought about this post and how nice it would be to include a happy ending. You know, something about how yoga brought me back to my peaceful center.

Sorry friends. That’s not how this is going to play out. I just kept on feeling pissed. Pissed that we started off an Active Flow class with fucking neck rolls. The thermostat was set at 72 F and I still had to keep my sweater on for a third of the class.

The girls ate pasta with butter for dinner because the tomato sauce in the back of the fridge had gone moldy, and Baby Girl still felt greasy when I nursed her to sleep. Then Big Sister got out of bed because she just had to show me how she’d put two little Perler Bead fish in her crayon box. Then the temperature alarm on my husband’s fermenting home brew went off. Did I mention he’s out of town? I’m feeling a little burnt out. Oh, and then Baby Girl woke up.

Now I’m stress eating chocolate chips because that’s all the sugar we have in the house. That reminds me. I need to go grocery shopping.

I’m pausing here for a moment. “I need to go grocery shopping.” That would make a fine ending, don’t you think? Do I need to say something more profound to tie this all together? What’s the lesson here?

Not everyday is a great day. There’s always more to do. Don’t bother cleaning too much. Go to yoga instead. It’s okay to feel angry. Make time for yourself. And next time you go grocery shopping, remember to buy the good chocolate.

Don't bother cleaning too much. Go to #yoga instead. Click To Tweet

*No, of course it wasn’t actually a refrigerator.

Photo Credit: Thumbs down by Juhan Sonin is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Text added to original

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Running with Gratitude

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Thanksgiving is over. Friday Thanksgiving, a holiday we spent with friends, is over. The cooking is done. The Christmas tree is already up. The food is… well, there’s still a lot in the refrigerator. And I’m still full of gratitude.

I’m grateful for my kind and hard working husband. I’m grateful I’m married to a man who has always accepted me exactly as I am and reminds me that he loves me not in spite of my flaws, but because of them.

I’m grateful for my sensitive and creative big girl, who is still a little girl at four years old. I’m grateful for all the ways in which I have grown into a better person only because she demanded it from me. Because she deserved it.

I’m grateful for my baby girl. I’m grateful that she’s still more sweet than sassy. I’m grateful I get to spend as much time as I do with her, watching her turn into a little person that walks and talks… even when she beats my chest and yells, “Boobie! Boobie! Boobie! Boobie!”

I’m grateful we just happened to buy a house on a court off a dead end street where the kids can play all day. I’m grateful for all our amazing neighbors and the real and meaningful friendships we’ve already formed.

I’m grateful for this journey I am on, for finally mustering up the guts to start this business. I’m grateful for all the friends and family supporting and encouraging me. I’m grateful that the two Personal Coaching slots I opened up last week sold (instead of lingering out there forever and ever like I feared).

I’m grateful for my good friend and running partner that passed away this January. I’m grateful for all the laughs and love we shared pushing our toddlers in our matching, yellow BOBs.

Two years ago Thanksgiving began with a Turkey Trot 5K organized to help fund her cancer treatment. This year my friends back in California trotted once again in her honor. I’m sad I wasn’t able to join them, but I’m grateful I was able to start the day with a Turkey Trot here in Colorado. For awhile there it didn’t look like that was going to happen.

About three months ago, while at a wedding, my high heel slipped off the edge of a wooden walkway. I didn’t fall, but I lost my balance and my knee buckled, straining my MCL. The injury came as all injuries come, right when everything was clicking into place. The injury came as all injuries come, right when everything was clicking into place. #running Click To Tweet

A year ago running took a back burner to our move from California to Colorado and all that entailed. Selling a house, buying a house, unpacking, registering cars, finding a preschool, canceling services and starting anew. Eight months ago, after deciding to enter a Yoga Teacher Training program, running took a back burner to re-establishing a regular yoga practice. I never stopped running entirely, but I cut way back. I began building my base back up in early summer and by mid-August I was hitting my stride (pun intended).

The day before that fateful slip I went for a 9 mile long run. I remember looking down at my legs, contracting and lengthening, carrying me forward and feeling like the runner was back. I made a last minute decision to run a 5K the next day, the morning of the wedding. Some friends of mine were running it and it was only a mile from my house. I ran faster than I would normally, but didn’t go all out and won my age group.

I felt strong and confident, powerful even. I finally admitted to myself that I wanted to run an ultra marathon and placed a training book on hold at the library. I had just ordered a new hydration vest and made plans to break it in on some trails the following week. Of course, that never happened.

The acute pain was gone within a day or two, but I couldn’t run pain-free for 3 months. I felt my muscles softening. I put on weight. I desperately missed the release, the meditation, the therapy that running has become for me. I felt discouraged, but also so much more than that. I felt terrified. I was on the cusp of launching this business, getting ready to promote myself as a running coach and I couldn’t even run. As more and more time passed the uncertainty became overwhelming and a tiny voice in the back of my head started asking that dreadful question, “Will I ever run again?”

So starting Thanksgiving with a Turkey Trot 5K this year was truly a gift. I was slow and it felt hard. I was passed multiple times by runners chatting away like they had plenty of air in their lungs to spare. That annoying voice in my head started challenging me with questions like, “Who are you to coach others? You can barely run yourself.” I told it to chill out. This is just a beginning. I’ve been here before. At least I’m running again pain-free. I’m so grateful for that.

And I’m oddly grateful for the timeliness of this injury. I think it will help me better relate to my community. To the frustration my injured friends feel when they can’t do this thing they love. And to those of you just getting started, those who feel slow and inadequate, who wonder if you’ll ever be able to do it: Yes, you will.

It takes time. More time than you want it to take, but it will come. And like I hope my story demonstrates, it’s not always a linear trajectory. You get a little better, you get a little worse and then you get better again. I know I’ll get there. You will too. It takes time. More time than you want it to take, but it will come. #C25K #running Click To Tweet

But most of all, I’m grateful I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom. Last year she felt too sick to eat, full of cancer just waiting to be diagnosed. I’m grateful we now live so close to her, that we’re able to spend what time she has left together. I’m grateful that right now she feels good. I’m grateful her last MRI only revealed one “suspicious” spot, too small to treat with radiation. I’m grateful for the tears that fill my eyes as I write this because I know they are a reflection of our relationship. I’m bursting with gratitude for my mother, who has always loved me so unconditionally, who I love the same.

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What is a Running Coach and 9 Reasons You’ll Want One

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I’ve been telling friends and family since February about my business plans. The first question out of everyone’s mouth, without fail, is, “What is a running coach, anyway?” And every time someone asks this I think to myself, “Good question. I should really come up with an elevator speech answer.” Sometimes that is what I say out loud.

A better response would be to say that a running coach is someone who advises, supports and helps you reach your running goals. “Running goals” might sound like a fancy term but often is means to simply start running, learn how to enjoy running or run injury-free. I do this over the course of 8-16 week training cycles and through customized training plans. All coaching is personalized, one-on-one and virtual (i.e. via email). You can read more on how exactly that works on the FAQ page.

Now most people don’t actually ask the logical follow up question, but I imagine it goes something like this. “I don’t get it. I can lace up my shoes, walk out my front door and put one foot in front of the other. Why do I need a coach for this?” Even those that are wise enough to realize they need a training plan are probably thinking, “I can find a million of those online for free.”

Okay, fair point. It’s totally reasonable to experiment with free training plans and ask Google if you have a question. There is no shortage of information available on the web for both new and experienced runners. In fact, I’ll include plenty of tips and anecdotes on the blog here for free. Please take advantage of it! If you subscribe you’ll get an email about once a week with real content.

That said, there are a number of reasons why you might want to hire a personal running coach:

  1. You hate running. You have friends that love it. They talk about the “runner’s high.” You’re pretty sure they’re lying. You have no interest in running unless you’re being chased by a bear… Except for you secretly want to be part of this club so every once in awhile you give it another shot. But it never works. You can’t breathe, your legs feel like led and you finish feeling sloppy and discouraged. Guess what? It doesn’t have to feel that way. You have no interest in running unless you're being chased by a bear...find a better reason. Click To Tweet
  2. You can’t seem to stick with it. You’ve had some success with running in the past. You got over that initial hump and started to understand what the fuss was all about. Maybe you ran a 5K and felt like a rockstar. But then you got busy or bored or both and for some reason unknown you can’t seem to get back into it.
  3. Actually, you have about 500 reasons why you can’t go for a run today. And you need someone else to help remove those barriers.
  4. Injury. Every time you try to run your knees hurt or your feet hurt or you get shin splints. Maybe that hasn’t always been the case. Maybe you used to be the person who hated running or had a million excuses and then you finally got it. FINALLY! You were pumped and motivated. You were getting stronger and faster and more confident! And then BAM. Injury after never-ending injury and you can’t figure out how to break the cycle.
  5. You’re overwhelmed by all the information. Sure, there’s a lot of free training plans out there, but how do you know which one is right for you? Maybe you get sick and miss a week. Do you pick up where you left off? Make up the skipped mileage the following week? (Hint: NO!!! Don’t do that!) Should you stretch before you run? After? Or not at all? Should you buy insoles or run barefoot? Maybe you wish there was someone you could ask that would consider your unique, personal history and situation. Maybe you don’t have the time to filter through all the information and would rather rely on one source you trust.
  6. You’re ready to try a new race distance. Maybe free online training plans worked well for you when you first began running and carried you to the finish line of your first 5K. But now you’re ready to tackle a half marathon and need a little extra help developing a hydration/fueling plan or dealing with a new basket of problems like blisters and emergency “bathroom” breaks.
  7. You’re tired of feeling like running is punishment. Pop culture tells us running is about buckling down and putting in the work. Pushing ourselves to the limit so we can lose weight. So our ass looks hot in a pair of skinny jeans. And yeah, running can be hard. There’s a time and place for hard. Rising to a challenge builds strength and confidence. But there is also a time and place for ease. Yes, even with running. When we turn down the pump-it-up jams, take off our watch, let go of expectations and settle into the rhythm of our breath and our feet, running can be a meditation. It is for me. I’m telling you friends, this is where it gets really, really good. When we let go of expectations and settle into the rhythm of our breath and our feet, running can be a meditation. Click To Tweet
  8. You’re a human being. You make mistakes. Sometime you miss a workout. Sometimes you accidentally run farther than you’re supposed to and get hurt. Sometimes you feel like a warrior and sometimes you’re convinced running was meant for everyone except you. Sometimes you need someone who will listen to you, acknowledge your humanity and remind you that it’s okay. You’re okay. You can do this. That’s right. YOU.
  9. You realize that you’re worth the money. Whatever it is you hope to accomplish or feel you need help with, the reality is it’s nice to get some extra personalized attention. And the truth is you’re worth it. Your health is worth it. Your self-esteem and happiness are worth it. You are deserving. Right here and now, exactly as you are in this moment.

To help lower the hurdle of money and as a Grand Opening special, I’m opening two Personal Coaching slots at a significant discount. First come, first serve. If you’ve ever wanted to take up running but you weren’t sure how to start or if you could let this be your personal invitation. There’s no better time than now.

I am also raffling off one 8-12 week Personal Coaching slot for FREE as a Black Friday special. You can enter up to 6 times by doing any or all of the following on or before Black Friday:

  1. Subscribe to the blog.

  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Follow me on Instagram
  4. Share this post on any social media platform. Be sure to tag me so I see it. You’ll earn a separate entry for each share.

If you already subscribed to the blog or started following me on Twitter or Instagram let me know if you’d like to enter the raffle. I’ll announce the winner early next week. If you purchase a discounted Personal Coaching slot and then win the raffle I will gladly give you a refund.

Still have questions about what a running coach is, how it works or whether it makes sense for your personal situation? Feel free to visit the FAQ page. If you can’t find an answer there, PLEASE don’t hesitate to Contact Me. Even if you choose not to hire me as your coach, I am still here for you. Let’s get to know each other a little better. Really, I mean it.

Namaste,

Laura

Photo Credit: Grizzly Bear Cubs by Denali National Park and Preserve is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Text added to original

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The Beginning of Greatness

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I came outside the other day to find our 8 year old neighbor giving my 4 year old daughter fighting lessons. She was standing over a pumpkin headed man left over from Halloween and beating his leaf bloated belly with a lightsaber. When the demonstration was complete she handed the lightsaber, a third of a green pool noodle, duct tape marking the handle, to my daughter. She hesitated for a moment before giving the guy a few wimpy whacks to the gut.

I chimed in, “What are you guys doing?”

“I’m teaching her how to fight!” Our neighbor remarked enthusiastically, as if she were teaching my daughter an important life skill. Like how to do the dishes or wipe her own butt.

I played it cool, careful not to create unnecessary barriers with overly adult, patronizing language, “Oh, I see… And are you also learning how to resolve problems by using your words?”

“No.” Our neighbor half-smiled, as if I were telling a joke, which I suppose I half was.

“Maybe we should learn how to meditate instead!” I think she may have said more on the topic, but I was so relieved I didn’t have to figure out a way to put an end to the fighting lessons that I too quickly turned my attention to my daughter.

“Maybe you could teach her mantra!”

“No!” She shouted in horror, her fear of putting herself out there, of singing in front of others palpable. My poor girl. She takes after her Mama. She’s got the fear in her. We both do.

∗     ∗     ∗     ∗     ∗

For the better part of the last 10 years I worked as an engineer for a large company. Every year, as part of my performance review I received a rating: 1 (good), 2 (average) or 3 (bad). Not only did I feel like a number lost among the crowd, my worth was literally described as a number.

Employee #26,317, you are AVERAGE.

At first this came as sort of a shock. I was raised to believe I was exceptional. That I was meant to do great things. But over time I began to accept this label of average. I embodied it. I became angry with my parents for teaching me something that wasn’t true. For setting me up with unreasonable expectations. Not every one can change the world, after all.

I felt unsatisfied and spent a tremendous amount of energy reacting to my work environment. I sat in meetings reviewing ergonomic data, not because anyone really cared all that much about my metacarpals, but because someone important decided metrics were the best way to avoid a lawsuit. And I felt angry. I watched as my friends worked 50, 60 and 70+ hours/week, time spent away from their loved ones, and for what? Out of a sense of duty, a fear of failure, because we all so desperately wanted to be seen, affirmed and recognized as something other than AVERAGE. I wondered how much of that time really did make a difference, and I felt angry.

But above all I felt angry at myself for settling. I don’t mean to say that the corporate world is bad or wrong for everyone. Who knows? Maybe one day, at a different time and phase of life, it will even become right for me. But my reasons for staying were all wrong.

On some level deep down under the surface I knew I wanted to start my own business. A business with values that truly aligned with my own. Values of love and connection, where an employee was seen as a whole person, beautiful and complex, with unique abilities and potential for greatness. A business that allowed space for creativity and innovation. A business with a mission of bringing people together.

A business with a mission of bringing people together. Click To Tweet

It just always felt like a pipe dream. Something I wasn’t truly capable of. Something involving too much risk. Of failure, specifically. Of loss. Not so much of the monetary sort, but rather of pride. I wasn’t capable of opening my own business. Failure would be so embarrassing. Surely, my co-workers, my friends and family would recognize this for the folly that it was. I made sure they didn’t find out. In fact, I was careful not to really tell myself explicitly.

Any energy left after anger and frustration I spent on guilt. I told myself that in order to be happy I needed to come to terms with the reality of my insignificance and be content with my situation. My job paid well and the work wasn’t especially bad. I formed real and meaningful friendships with my co-workers. I even married one and two more became bridesmaids. I was comfortable. Shouldn’t that be enough?

It only recently occurred to me that perhaps I should re-direct that energy towards believing in myself. As part of Yoga Teacher Training we were asked to commit to a 40 day meditation. So now, everyday, I bring my awareness to my third chakra, the solar plexus. Or in lay man’s terms, the gut. This is the place where we cultivate courage. I chant mantra. I meditate on my own potential for greatness.

And it’s working.

My 4 year old has learned one of the mantras. Maybe she’ll teach our neighbor. Who knows? Maybe one day she’ll be brave enough to wipe her own butt.

I’m also beginning to understand that contentment first starts from within. We must first be content with ourselves. Part of that is believing we already possess the talent, the skill, the ability, whatever you want to call it, to affect change in our lives and in the world. We are already exceptional. I am. You are. We are already capable of greatness. We are already exceptional. I am. You are. We are already capable of greatness. Click To Tweet

So here I am, opening my own business. This is just the beginning. I have lots of ideas about what to offer and where to go from here. I’m trusting that in time it will unfold in exactly the way it is meant to. My first step is simply creating this space. It is about fitness, but also so much more. It’s about authenticity and the love and support of community. It’s about honoring and treating our bodies and minds and hearts with the care and respect they deserve.

The fear is still very much with me as I embark on this new adventure. I humbly ask that you support and join me. In return I promise to do the same and support you as you realize your own potential for greatness.

There are 3 main ways you can help:

  1. Subscribe to the blog. You’ll receive a post, or article, once a week by email (completely free, of course). Posts will cover a range of topics including, but not limited to, running, yoga, nutrition, body image and emotional well-being. Next week’s post will cover all the reasons why you might want to hire a running coach and, “What is a running coach anyway?” I will open 2 significantly discounted personal run coaching slots at that time as well, so be on the lookout if you think you might be interested!
  2. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@realfittogether) and share this post and/or site on social media.
  3. Donate pics of your beautiful self running, practicing yoga or participating in other wellness related activities for use on this site and social media.

Namaste,

Laura

Photo Credit: Sunset by postscapes at www.postscapes.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Text added to original