Come one, come all! Have you been running around your city jamming out to an “Emo Forever” Spotify Playlist and letting Gerard Way fuel your mind and your legs as the miles pile on? If not, you probably don’t know the struggle resisting the urge to play air guitar on a 6 mile run, as to maintain good form. Week 3 came hard and fast, and my biggest struggle this week was navigating through the frustrations and fears of plateauing.
Week 3 was a true challenge in attempting to balance pushing myself enough to reach my goals, but not hard enough to cause injury or burn out. There was a new focus on both my mind and body. My brain said, “Push yourself harder or you’ll never be ready in time,” while my body urged me to avoid pushing my lungs into a pace they weren’t ready for. My muscles felt ready, but every time I attempted a faster pace, my body felt overheated and I quickly ran out of breath and steam. I realized I needed to decrease my pace, which definitely solved the issue!
With that in mind, here’s Week 3:
Sunday: Run 6 miles
Tuesday: Run 3 miles
Friday: Speed Work
I enjoy speed work in a variety of ways. For speed, others recommend hill repeats, plyometrics, etc., but in the city it can be difficult to find a good easily accessible hill. Instead, I might find a good, long set of stairs or a ramp. My typical go-to is a quick run workout. For a run workout, I will walk for a block, run for a block, and sprint for a block, and repeat this until I’ve hit whatever the distance goal I’ve set for myself. This week I learned that my body is in good shape, but my cardio needs work- hence the frustration.
Lesson of the Week: Go at your own pace. In the weeks before, I put pace goals on each run workout. From here on, I am just going to focus on completing the miles at whatever pace my body allows. I want to put more emphasis on how I feel physically instead of focusing on the pressure of not feeling fast enough- I’m out there, I’m running, I’m working to achieve a goal. If that’s not good enough, I don’t know what is.
I didn’t get the nickname “Little
Bear” in college for no reason. In the morning it takes me about 1 hour, 1
cup of coffee, 1 giant plate of breakfast, and a whole lot of
self-encouragement to start feeling like a human. In fact, I love my mother,
but my biggest complaint about her parenting was that she talked to me
in the morning- the horror!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of
being a morning person, and I actually find myself enjoying the quiet mornings
to myself if I have a day off. It’s the pressure of having a schedule to keep
that causes me to roll out of bed with my hair a mess and grunt to myself as I
struggle to don my big girl garb and start the day. There just never seems to
be enough time in the morning, and no matter how hard I try, I still find
myself consistently running 5 minutes late. One might think that I could simply
wake up earlier, but your girl loves her sleep. Therefore, I can offer these
helpful tips that might help- excuse my French- unfuck your morning as well as
they did mine.
Pick out your clothes.
I tend to take this tip to the extreme. Every week as I am putting away my laundry, I put together my outfits for the entire week (or more if I’m feeling extra adventurous). This way, I can just pull something ready-to-wear from my closet. I’m not suggesting that anyone take things to that extreme, but it is a huge time saver to have an outfit prepared. I also notice that I always feel better if I’m wearing something I like, and I rarely create an outfit I like if I save the task for the busy morning.
Prep your lunch.
I like to make this part of my nightly routine. Before I go to sleep, I’ll my lunchbox together, so I can just grab it out of the refrigerator before I leave in the morning. Not only does this save time in the morning, but it also gives me time to make sure I’m packing a healthy and well balanced lunch.
Have a routine.
Part of making the morning easier is not thinking-just doing. Having a good routine in place can save time, increase productivity, and increase a sense of accomplishment. For those like me who used to forget her lunch, office keys, etc. at least once a week, it can help to ensure you’re not skipping over any important morning tasks.
Say it with me: SLEEP WITH YOUR PHONE AWAY FROM YOUR BED.
There is truly not much to say here that I haven’t said already. If you want to catch up on my reasons behind religiously adopting this hack, you can read all about it here!
Stretch in bed.
The hardest part of the morning for me is peeling myself away from my cuddly cat/sleeping buddy and unraveling my cozy blanket burrito. After doing research on stretches that can be done in bed, I found that not only did this satisfy my desire to stay in bed longer, but it helped my body feel more awake and motivated to get my morning routine going strong.
Make your bed.
It may seem small, but making your bed can set the mood for the entire day. Starting off with completing a task can lead to a sense of accomplishment that can only snowball into a bigger form of motivation. Coming home to a tidy area can also decrease any residual stress from the work day.
Save scrolling for later.
Anyone who has read my previous posts already know my view of social media and cell phones- if you allow it, your electronic device can be a giant waste of time. So, save the scrolling for later and minimize anything that might distract you from a productive morning. The memes will still be there after you’re all dressed and ready to start the day with, hopefully, time to spare.
Look forward to food.
Okay, this one might me more tailored to me, but it works. I find it way easier to crawl out of bed if I know I’ve planned a breakfast I can look forward to. (Even better, I’ll meal prep it, so I can go straight to the rewarding part).
Make your morning more enjoyable.
It may seem like common sense, but it’s easy to lose ourselves in the rush of getting ready for the day. We can’t forget about our needs. Whether it’s yoga, a morning walk, or reading a chapter, take a little bit of time and engage in an activity that will make your morning feel like yours! It doesn’t even have to be the same activity each day.
Listen to music.
I. Love. Music. In my 28 years of existence, nothing has been able to captivate me as much as music. It has been, and probably always will be, a huge part of my life (but that’s a post for a different day). For me, and maybe for some of you also, there’s no better way to wake up the body than to start by waking up the soul.
Although weekday mornings are a struggle, I am really focusing on making
them effective and productive. It simply makes me happier and more energetic
when I feel good about my mornings. I am always trying to make Rise and Shine
Time easier and less hectic, and I always love to hear feedback and start a
conversation. What are some of your go-to morning hacks?
Happy Monday, Warriors! Wow, did Week 2 really present some challenges that served as some pretty important reminders. Sunday rolled through just as I was coming out of a great, but busy, week. I completed all of my training days from Week 1 with complete success and felt prideful as I rewarded myself with a “Tourist Weekend.” While I love living in Philadelphia, I don’t often get time to partake in the famous attractions. Every so often (usually if a family member or friend is visiting), I allow myself to act as a tourist for an entire weekend and explore the hot staples of the city tourist-style (Though, you will never catch me riding a Segway).
Fueled by residual motivation from Week 1, I created an intense training plan for the week that included longer runs and harder speed training workouts. During my first run of the week, I made it half way to my distance goal when my entire body felt exhausted, and every fiber of my being felt one step away from a becoming real life example of a dramatization in a Life Alert commercial. As I slowed to a walk, I reflected on the prior week of nonstop movement and recreation. I remembered my top goal in beginning my overall wellness journey: GIVE YOUR BODY WHAT IT’S ASKING FOR. It was a not-so-gentle reminder to listen to my body, and my body needed some good old TLC (both physically and audibly, because come on– who can’t get down with a little No Scrubs blaring on a Sunday night???). With that in mind, I walked the remainder of my distance goal, went home, ripped up my plan, and spent the week going off script, tailoring each activity to what I felt that my body needed on a day-to-day basis.
Here is what it looked like:
Sunday: Run 3 miles, walk 1-2 miles. (I made this a mindful walk, meaning that I put my phone on airplane mode and listened to no music, taking in my environment and focusing on my experience).
Monday: Strength Training: Arms, Stretch
Tuesday: Run 1 mile at an easy pace, run 1 mile at race pace, walk 1 mile, run 1 mile at an easy pace
Thursday: Strength Training: Abs and Back
Friday: Strength Training: Legs, Stretch
Lesson of the Week: Listen to your body. Training doesn’t have to mean pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion or injury. If your body is craving something slow and easy, give it just that. If your body is buzzing with energy, use it as fuel for harder workouts. I ran and worked out at a lesser intensity and still ended the week feeling stronger.
It’s your turn, peeps: How did you listen to your body this week?
The burst of energy I woke up with this morning and the happy sunshine streaming through my office window can only mean one thing– It’s Friday! This week has been a rough mental health week, and although I am well aware of the triggers it can always feel like a slow crawl back to stability. That being said, if there is ever a week to focus on my Wins, this would be the one!
I finished a book. If anyone reading this has been struggled with any sort of mental health issue, you may know that concentration may be a huge challenge. As someone who read the last Harry Potter book in just over a day, part of me is heartbroken to say that it had been well over a year since I had been able to read an entire a book. It took about a month to finish this book by breaking down reading into smaller chunks of time, but I felt a sense of accomplishment.
I was able to delegate responsibility at work. At my organization, I manage a caseload of about 55 clients. I typically schedule 38-40 hours of individual therapy sessions per week, attend 5-7 meetings monthly, facilitate a group twice monthly that consists of 15 additional clients, and somehow squeeze in time for paperwork and outreach calls in between. Needless to say, all of my days are incredibly busy. I spoke to my supervisor about feeling overwhelmed and we agreed that it would be best to hand my group off to someone else who has a less established caseload to maintain. With my group facilitating nearing its end, I can already feel a little relief.
I didn’t feel like a bad employee for delegating. Typically, admitting that I do not have the energy to perform well at a task would lead me to believe that I’m bad at my job. I learned how to catch these thoughts in therapy, but this time I didn’t even need to catch myself because I didn’t have the thought. That’s progress, folks!
I painted for the first time in about 10 years. I used to paint all the time, more of a hobby than a coping skill. I was always a perfectionist when it came to creativity, but when I picked up a paint brush this week, I simply focused on playing with color however I was inspired to. I definitely felt rewarded and mindful and just…. emotionally better!
Honestly, to a certain extent, I’m just thankful for making it through the week without completely spontaneously combusting.
Now turning to you, Warriors! What have been your biggest wins of the week?
Sometimes our cell phones seem like an extension of
ourselves. They are useful little boxes that remember our appointments, stay in
contact with our friends, and share our memories with the touch of a button. It
can be difficult to think of cell phones as what they are: a tool. So, I
decided that if I don’t feel the need to sleep with a hammer next to my bed, I
don’t feel the need to keep my cell phone there either. Here’s why:
Late night cell phone use can lead to lack of sleep.
We’ve all been there: we turn the lights off, settle into
our blankets… and then scroll in Instagram for the next hour instead of closing
our eyes for some well-deserved snoozing. Further than that, using cell phones
in the dark can more intensely expose our eyes to blue lights, potentially
causing damage in vision or interfere with our ability to fall asleep.
We are not yet aware of potential health risks.
While there has not been research that proves cell phone use
causes cancer, we do know that cell phones emit small amounts of
electromagnetic radiation, which can lead to tumor growth. However, since they
are such small amounts, cell phones are safe to handle for individuals who are
not more vulnerable to radiation. This being said, clear links between cell
phone use and health risks are not yet clear—which makes me want to be more
safe than sorry.
I wake up more easily in the morning.
I am not a morning person. In fact, I have been known
to set my alarm early just to hit snooze for the next hour. A few months ago, I
started sleeping with my phone across the room from my bed, and I initially
felt resentful that this little music-making pile of metal was dragging my lazy
bones out of bed on the first ring. It slowly became much easier to wake up in
the morning at the first chime of my alarm.
My mind is clearer as I’m drifting off to dream world.
Incorporating an hour of phone-free time before bed each
night has helped me make the space to check in with myself. Having the
opportunity to read, journal, or simply reflect has allowed me the space to get
any leftover thoughts from the day out of my head before putting my head onto
Disconnecting from my phone on a regular basis has allowed
me to use my time effectively. Although, I still find myself frustrated
sometimes that I have to crawl out of bed to get the loud noises to stop.
Overall, I’ve felt positive in my decision to start sleeping disconnected with
my phone—and it seems that my brain and body are thankful, too!