Asking for help

It’s been close to 2 months since my last blog post.  Not because I’ve been too busy or didn’t have anything to say but because I was having trouble navigating new software.  When I first developed my website I had no idea what I was doing.  A couple of months ago I decided to actually write my blog on a “real” blogging platform and link it to my website.  That sounds easy right?  Yeah, not so much.  I’m pretty good with technology but I just could not figure out how to make this happen.  I moved all my blog content over and published it with no problem.  I read tutorials on the the internet and tried them.  But at the end of the day I just couldn’t figure it out.  So I did what any strong independent woman does when she can’t do it herself and just kept avoiding the problem.  Every day I’d think, “I need to figure out how to link my blog.  I need to work on my website.”  And every day it seemed like such and overwhelming task that I avoided it.  Until today. I finally just hit the chat button on my webpage and talked with a support person who walked me through it in less than 5 minutes.  Now here I am, writing a blog that you can see on my website!  Exciting isn’t it?  And it was so easy.  So why did it take me so long to ask an expert?

That’s a big question full of a lot of analysis I’m sure.  My point in telling you this story (because I’m sure you want me to get to it!) is that this is something we do in many areas of life.  We try to figure things out on our own and when we can’t we just avoid the issue or pretend everything is fine.  Something gets in the way of our seeking help from an expert whether that be a Dr. when we’re hurt, a therapist when we’re anxious, or a nutrition or fitness coach if we want to lose weight.  Humans are stubborn and prideful and like toddlers we want to do it ourselves!  But guess what?  It can be a lot easier and a lot less painful if we seek help.

That’s a lesson I learned today.  And hopefully one you can learn from me.  I wasted a lot of time and energy and a great deal of stress on a relatively simple solution.  It just wasn’t simple for me because I’m not a web developer. Take a minute and think about what you try to do yourself when maybe, just maybe, you could save yourself some trouble by asking for help.  Can’t reach the high shelf?  Ask for help.  Can’t figure out if that’s a muscle strain or a stress fracture? Ask for help.  Can’t figure out how to eat right or lose those 5 pounds?  Ask for help.

3/15/16 – The Comparison Trap

Do you ever find that you’re walking through the day just find until you see someone or something and suddenly you feel less than? Not as good as? You start to compare yourself to whoever or whatever it is?  As a therapist I teach my clients about “The Comparison Trap” and other thinking mistakes every day.  A thinking mistake is a pattern of unhelpful, stuck or unrealistic thoughts that lead to uncomfortable or negative feelings and reactions.  “The Comparison Trap” is just one of many.  It’s when we start to compare ourselves, our lives, what we have etc. to others and end up feeling bad in the process.  Social media has amplified this problem exponentially.  One minute you’re feeling just fine about your bag mix salad and store bought chicken for dinner, the next minute you feel like a failure when you see your friend’s gourmet creation on Instagram.  One minute you think you look great, the next you feel terrible when you see your friend’s seflie.  One minute you’re super excited about your upcoming vacation to New Hampshire, the next you feeling jealous when you see your friend’s photo album of her trip to Iceland on Facebook.  It happened to me not too long ago at the gym.  I was in Barre class feeling like a prima ballerina and them i looked in the mirror and thought I looked more like and Oompa Loompa compared to my taller and more lithe neighbor.  It’s hard not to to let the comparison get you down.  Try to remember that we all have our strengths and weaknesses.  That we all project our best selves on the Internet…who posts pictures of their Pinterest fails after all?  If you struggle with comparisons try some mindfulness and gratitude instead.  Focus on the present.  Not the past, not the future, and not your neighbor at the gym.  Focus on your breath, your senses, and let your thoughts float away.  Think of what you’re grateful for…about you, about your partner, your kids, your life.  Write those things down.  Say them out loud.  Put them in a jar.  Focus on the positive.  Don’t feed the negative monster.  Be the best YOU you can be.  As Dr. Suess would say, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

2/24/16 – Elimination Diet and Gut Restoration

I love to eat. I always have.  I just love food.  Unfortunately, over the past year or so food hasn’t always loved me back.  I started to realize that I was always feeling bloated and uncomfortable after eating.  Even if I didn’t eat much.  I was getting a lot of stomach aches.  I just felt yucky.  I tried to figure out what was causing it and cut out some things but it kept happening.  My doctors had no answers.  Finally a friend suggested I check out Dr. Jillian Teta and her Fix Your Digestion program.  I read the book but was hesitant to  to try an elimination diet.  I couldn’t imagine giving up bread while training for a marathon!  So I decided to wait.  Then it was the holidays, and who wants to give up sugar at Christmas?  So finally I decided February would be the month.  My mom decided to give it a go with me.   We cut sugar, gluten, dairy, legumes, and night shades.  It was so hard.  No peanut butter in my morning oats?  No bread basket at dinner?  I was hungry.  I got bored with my food choices.  I whined a lot about eating.  BUT, I started to feel better.  I wasn’t feeling sick after eating.  I wasn’t bloated all the time.  I even lost a few pounds.  I admit I wasn’t perfect. I added peanut butter back in week 2 and bread back in week 3.  I ate a piece of chocolate here and there.  But here I am at day 24 still standing.  I’m hoping that this will help me learn what foods my body can’t handle and I can resume my love affair with food.  Do you have any food intolerances or think you do?  Do you need help learning how to heal your digestive tract?

2/8/16 – Hunger

Many people no longer understand their own natural hunger cues.  We eat because the clock says it’s time.  Or we don’t eat at all. We eat because we’re bored, sad, or anxious.  We eat because we’re celebrating or socializing. It’s easy to lose touch with our body’s natural hunger cues.  Do you even know when you’re hungry anymore? The next time you eat, I’d like you to take a minute to listen to your body.  Instead of going all day without eating because ” you don’t have time” or eating every 3 hours because “that’s what you’re supposed to do,” think about hunger.  How do you know you’re hungry? The body is an amazing thing. It will tell you when you need to eat.  Listen to it.

Here are some tips courtesy of  Precision Nutrition:

Just before eating:
Are you physically hungry? Pause and check in. Look for signals like a rumbling stomach, lightheadedness, irritability, etc.
You want to be around a 7 out of 10 on the hunger scale.

HOUR 0 Immediately after eating
To be 80% full, shoot for about a 2 or 3 out of 10 on the hunger scale. Pause for 15 – 20 minutes before you eat more.
This will give your brain time to catch up.  You want to feel satisfied, not stuffed

HOUR 1 One hour after finishing
You should still feel physically satisfied with no desire to eat another meal.

HOUR 2 Two hours after finishing
You may start to feel a little hungry, like you could eat something, but the feeling isn’t overwhelming.

HOUR 3 Three to four hours after finishing
Check in. You may be getting a bit hungry, perhaps a 4 to 6 out of 10. If you’re around a 7, eat. Not really hungry yet? That’s OK. Follow your body cues.

HOUR 4 Four or more hours after finishing
You’re probably quite hungry, like nothing is getting between you and the kitchen. If you’re around a 7 or higher, eat. Not really hungry yet? That’s OK. Keep checking in with your body. You may find you need to
act fast once your body decides to be hungry so be prepared with a healthy and quick option, just in case.

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Hunger-Scale-Worksheet.pdf

Remember, you don’t have to eat because it’s time.  Listen to your body.  Pay attention to what it’s telling you.  If your hunger is at a 7 or above, eat.  Stop when you’re 80% full or a 2-3 on the hunger scale.  This will take some practice. Don’t forget, it takes 15-20 minutes for the stomach to send the brain the full signal!  Try checking in with your hunger cues and let me know how it works!

1/20/16 – Journey to CIM Part 2

Last month I started to tell you all about my first marathon.  I promised I’d be back to finish the story.  But then the holidays came and life got busy.  So here I am, 6 weeks post marathon, finding myself back here ready to tell you more.  Running this marathon was an immense physical and emotional challenge.  I was blessed to have my brother as my training partner.  I am also incredibly lucky to have an amazing support system who cheered me on every step of the way.  I learned a lot about myself through this process.  I hope that my journey will inspire you and that if someday you embark on a journey of health and fitness you’ll consider inviting me along.

When my brother and I started contemplating this journey back in the Spring of 2015 I was running a couple days a week as well as doing other workouts at the gym.  I had been working on improving my speed and had taken about a minute off my mile.  I was eating healthy, a diet full of lean protein, fruits, veggies some whole grains and healthy fats.   Still, I knew I would have to make some changes to both my training and my diet if I was going to train successfully for this marathon.

In August of 2105, I started training.  I followed a first time marathoner training schedule which initially had me decrease mileage from where I was at and then saw a gradual but steady increase.  I increased my running from 2-3 days to 3-4 days.  I gradually started increasing my calories and my carbs as my training increased.  I kept up with my weekly barre class, yoga, lifting and other workout for a bit…but I was TIRED!  So I had to reevaluate.  I cut my workouts back.  I focused solely on running.  I constantly evaluated my diet.  It was important to make sure my body was getting enough nutrients from fruits and veggies as well as enough protein for muscle repair and enough carbs and fats for energy.  I was used to going for a run in the morning on an empty stomach or with a a very small breakfast – I like to sleep in and I don’t like to feel weighed down when I run.  But pretty quickly I realized my energy flagged and my runs suffered if I didn’t eat enough.  I started eating more before a run and noticed my runs improved.  I made sure to have a protein shake and some carbs post run to repair my muscles and replenish my glycogen stores (that’s where all that energy your muscles use comes from!), and I made sure throughout the day to eat a balanced diet of protein, fats and carbs with plenty of fruits and veggies and plenty of water to stay hydrated.  The more I ran, the more I ate.  I noticed that if I wasn’t eating enough, not only was I tired and my workouts suffered but I was gaining weight.  If I ate more my body functioned better.  It’s so important when you are working out and burning calories to be sure to fuel your body to keep your metabolism going!

As marathon day approached, I began to increase my carbs to ensure my muscles had plenty of fuel.  I practiced my race day and pre race fuel to ensure I had my best possible race.  You hear a lot about carb loading, but what often is overlooked is that you can’t give your body all the carbs it needs in one meal.  It takes several days of increased carbs to get enough fuel to your muscles.  That may sound like fun, but it’s a lot of work!  I followed my pre race strategy and filled up on carbs.  On race day I was as ready mentally and physically as possible.  I had some oatmeal and raisins for breakfast and was ready to go.  I made sure to have some fuel (Honeystinger pomegranate energy gel) every 45-60 min.  I alternated water and Nuun (a carb and electrolyte drink) at every water stop.  I had an orange section late in the race and a brownie bite halfway through.  This race was fully stocked with fuel options which was AWESOME.  I felt great, ran a steady pace, and followed my plan to stay steady and walk each water stop.  I felt strong up until mile 21.  I took a walk break, gave myself a pep talk, and kept going.  I finished a bit slower than I would have liked, but I finished.  Upright.  With a smile.

Life post marathon has been an adjustment as well.  I’ve dialed back my mileage, returned to the gym, and reassessed my nutrition to keep it in line with my current training.  Health and nutrition is a fluid thing.  It’s important to pay attention to the cues your body gives you.  If something feels off, it probably is.  Stay tuned for how to tune into your body’s cues and how to tweak your nutrition to fell and perform your best!
❤ Kristen

12/14/15 – Journey to the 2015 California International Marathon

Last Sunday I ran my first marathon.  That’s right, marathon, 26.2 miles of blood sweat and tears…ok no blood but definitely sweat and tears.  Now, maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but in the not so distant past, I was a girl who didn’t like to sweat.  I was never athletic.  I danced from the time I was little, but shied away from sports and other athletic endeavors.  I quit swim lessons when I was 4 or 5.  I got hit in the face with a softball as a teen and that was the end of that.  I played tennis in high school, but really that was a way for me to socialize and meet boys at different schools.  I never did any real playing.  In my 20’s and early 30’s I began to struggle with my weight following some health problems and joined a local gym with a work colleague.  After a little while I decided I wanted to run a 5k.  Another colleague of mine registered us for a 5k and I started training.  Slowly but surely I was able to run those 3.1 miles and my love of running was born.  Over the past several years I kept running.  I also began working out with a personal trainer and trying a variety of fitness classes. While I love exercise in general, it is running that I always come back to.  After a hip injury in 2013 and surgery in 2014 I decided to set some goals. In the fall of 2014 I was lucky to be part of a Ragner Relay Reach the Beach team where my team of 12 ran over 200 miles through the state of New Hampshire to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem.  In two days I ran 17 miles.  It was a huge mental and physical accomplishment.   But I was still not fully recovered from surgery. Over the next few months as I got healthier I worked to get faster and stronger.  I took over a minute off my pace.  I was feeling great and loving every mile I ran.  Then, my brother asked if I wanted to try to run a marathon.  I was hesitant and mildly terrified, but I decided to go for it.

I learned a lot during the past 3 months.  Once I committed to running a marathon, I committed myself to run strong and stay healthy.  This meant a complete analysis and overhaul of my nutrition and training.  There was a lot of trial and error as I figured out what worked for my body.  In the end I found the balance and am prepared for what comes next.  Stay tuned for more details on my training and nutrition….

10/14/15 – Self Care

Today I went for a massage before work.  I didn’t want to spend the money but I was tired and sore and have been feeling the stress of a busy fall full of clients, marathon training and wedding planning pile up.  I reminded myself that self care is the most important thing we can do every day.  Without it, we leave ourselves vulnerable to stress, anxiety, depression, injury, fatigue and a weakened immune system just for starters.  When we’re busy, time for ourselves always seems to be the first thing we cut off our to do list.  We need to remember that without taking care of ourselves we can’t get all that other stuff done safely, effectively, efficiently…or sometimes even at all.  Whether you take 5 minutes to grab a breath of fresh air, 15 minutes to call a friend, half an hour to go for a relaxing walk or an hour to get a massage, remember that anything you do to refill your cup improves your well-being and allows you more to give back to others.

I left my massage feeling more relaxed, physically and mentally, and ready to take on the day.  I know that my life isn’t going to get any less busy in the near future, so I will make a habit of finding time each day to rest, relax, and recuperate.  I’ll book another massage, go to yoga class, catch up on 30 Rock, or read a magazine while I burn my Gingerbread candle.  Making sure I focus on self care in addition to eating well and moving every day will help keep my mind and body healthy.