Running for the Hills

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Anybody who runs know that hills are “death.” Running up hill is the most exhausting part of the workout, but its also the most rewarding. You make it to the top of that hill and everything becomes easier; your labored breathing slows, your stride opens up, and you feel to run on. Sometimes you reach the top of the hill and a downhill immediately follows, and you get to let gravity take you back down, but even the flat ground will feel better underneath your feet.

So, if hills are the hardest part of a run, why would I say to run for the hills?

I believe that hills are good for you; its the most difficult parts of the workout that make you stronger. The more hills you climb, the easier they become, and the downhills are so much more rewarding.

I ran my first half marathon this past weekend, so I’ve literally been running for the hills. The half was a physically tough and demanding experience, but also so rewarding, and it came at a really good time.

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I would say that the past couple of months have been a hill in my life. I dealt with a lot the first couple of months of 2015; I fractured my wrist, my grandmother passed away, and I was “alone,” since my core group of friends are studying abroad. I didn’t stop when the uphill run got tough, I kept going because I knew there would be something great on the other side.

The half marathon was something I’d been considering running since last spring when several of my friends ran one, but I was always hesitant. 13.1 miles is a lot, and I was afraid I might not have time to train, or I might injure myself, or, above all, that I might fail. But things kind of fell into place over the last month and I wound up training and completing the Philadelphia Love Run.

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The half marathon was something that I could focus on; it was a goal that I wanted to accomplish. So, instead of letting the struggles of my personal hill get to me, I pushed through. I started running more, and I centered my life around this healthy goal.

I was no longer just living, but I had something that I loved to do (running) to orient my life towards. I think it was because of my healthy outlet that I developed a fresh outlook on life, and things really started to improve for me.

On the other side of that hill I’ve found a great new group of friends, a more positive attitude, a healthier lifestyle, and I’ve re-discovered a love for distance running. (I might even run a marathon in the fall!)

Establishing healthy habits and having healthy goals to strive for can be such an important part of living a healthy life. I’ve talked a lot about finding something you’re passionate about when it comes to health/fitness, but I think have a goal or something you want to accomplish can be even more important. I’ve always liked to run and exercise, but I was in an “uphill” rut.

I was stuck walking up the hill, thinking I might never get to the top. But, when you have a goal, you run for the hill because you know that there is something wonderful on the other side.

I’d love to help you find your goal and fire up a healthy passion within you. So please, leave a comment, or contact me personally on Facebook.

Thanks for reading!

Peace, Love, Go Cats,

Caroline

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Dream a little.

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When you were younger did you ever dream about what you wanted to be when you grew up? Maybe you wanted to be a dancer so you bought slippers and practiced pirouettes. Or maybe you wanted to be an astronaut so you put a fishbowl on your head and pretended to fly to the moon. We’ve all had these dreams, fantasies even, of where life might lead us.

I admire the drive and aspirations of young children, because I feel like as I’ve grown up I’ve lost a lot of that.

For one, we become more practical, we realize that dancing on Broadway or orbiting the earth in a spaceship aren’t realistic dreams. And then, our lives become busy, and we forget to build new dreams and aspirations. Before we know it we’re just living day by day, enjoying the moment, but lacking anything to really look forward to.

The problem with a lot of adults is that they lack VISION. We become so focused on getting through today’s tasks we forget about tomorrow, or next week, or next year; we lose ourselves in the day-to-day. Honestly, I’ve found myself very guilty of this “tunnel vision,” especially due to recent events.

So I’ve come to ask myself, how will I ever be truly happy if I don’t even know who I am or who I want to be?

It’s not always easy to find the right path, and a lot of times it’s not a straight line, or it might not even be laid out for us. But we need to look for it. They say that life is a journey, and no, we’re not supposed to look for the destination, but we should at least know where we’re headed.

As a young adult and a college student I’ve kind of been struggling to know who I am and what I want to do with my life. I’ve just been kind of living in the moment and doing what I’m told. I haven’t been living a really healthy or fulfilling life. And while I am enjoying life in the moment, I’m not truly happy. And to be perfectly honest, I feel a little lost.

So I think it’s time to sit down and think about who I am and the kind of person I want to be. Once I’ve figured that out I can live my life focused on shaping that person.

There’s no right answer, no one kind of person we all should be. We all have different talents and aspirations that we need to cultivate. So if you’re a little lost, like I am, or maybe you’re not completely happy withfeet in the woods who you are, let’s sit down and have a conversation with ourselves. You can even draw an outline or write down some thoughts. Maybe take a couple of days to journal your life and explore what makes you happy and what leaves you unsatisfied. Or, one of my favorite times to think is on a long, therapeutic run.

Dream a little; think about what you wanted as a kid and what you might want now. Who knows, maybe your childhood dreams aren’t as far off as they seem.

At the end of the day, just be someone who you can look into the mirror and smile at.

Peace, Love, Go Cats,

Caroline

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

The last time I posted I was gearing up to kill it on my Insanity Max 30 Challenge. However, that was kind of put on the back burner, hence the lack of blogging. In the simplest terms, the past month and a half have been a little insane. I went back to school in mid-January without my three best girlfriends, all three of whom are studying abroad. Needless to say I felt a little alone. So, I accepted that my social life would be lacking this semester and threw myself into my school work, and I took an extra class. Let’s put it this way, I was busy. Now, in case you didn’t already know, I LOVE to work out. I love sports and athletics and everything that gets me up and moving, even if I’m completely awful at it (which, with sports, I usually am). Nonetheless, when a friend invited me to join her intermural basketball team I jumped at the opportunity. And while the team was fun and it was a good distraction from missing my friends, the whole basketball thing didn’t really work out for me. In our second game I fractured my wrist. That meant six weeks in a cast, and no push-ups for a while. I’ve never broken anything before so it was fun to have friends sign it and such, but honestly, I was not too excited about the arrangement. Now with this little hitch, my Insanity Max 30 plans were put on pause. Well sort of, but I’ll get back to that. So at this point I’m two weeks into the semester, I have no friends, a ton of school work, and a fractured wrist.

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Less than ideal, I know. But for whatever reason the universe really wanted to test me. So the next weekend I get a call from my dad on Saturday evening; my grandmother had passed. She’d been sick for a while so it wasn’t a big shock, but it also wasn’t ideal or uplifting. So yeah, I’ve been dealing with a lot of sh*t.

But I’m not writing this to get pity points or sympathy sighs, I’ve gotten plenty of that already. I’m telling you this because I want you to know that life goes on. There will be times when things are overwhelming, or “sucky,” or flat out depressing. But we can’t let these times get us down, and we certainly can’t use them as excuses.

One of the things that has helped me to stay mentally stable throughout all this has been exercise. No, I haven’t been able to follow my workout calendar or do a lot of the things I’d like to. However, I can modify a lot of the Insanity workouts so that I can stay in shape despite my wrist. Also, a healthy wrist isn’t needed to run, so I’ve been running a lot. Running is one of my favorite forms of therapy. When I run can forget all of the things weighing me down, and for an hour I forget all of my problems. Its times like this when I really appreciate a good run. Sometimes the endorphin rush was what really carried me through the day.

So I don’t want you to take pity on me, or someone else, or even yourself when faced with a “tough time.” Anything and everything is what you make of it. So do things that make you happy and make you a better person.

It’s so true that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I feel like I’ve grown a lot from the things I’ve dealt with in the past month and a half. I’ve become more mentally resilient, and since my healthy outlet was exercise, I actually have gotten physically stronger.

Tough times are an important part of growing up, because we learn a lot about ourselves. I look at the past month and see how much I’ve grown both physically and emotionally. I firm believer in “everything happens for a reason.” There is something positive to be gained from each negative experience. And so, I move forward, and I look forward to the good things to comeWhat doesnt killI have another week in the cast before I get it re x-rayed, but once my wrist is healed I’ll be back in high gear with Max 30. I’m excited to get back to it and I’m looking for karma to reimburse me for everything I’ve dealt with recently.

As always, let me know if you’re interested in joining my next Max 30 challenge! Comment below or email me at cmarzo@villanova.edu

Peace, Love, Go Cats,

Caroline

Who Cares?

Maintaining healthy relationships is a key aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. I think a lot of people tend to forget how important it is to have a solid support group behind you. No matter who you are or what your goals are, we need other people to help us along the way.

We need people who will be there with us to celebrate our victories. But the ones who really care will stick with us through our challenges.

Unfortunately, it tends to be the times when we’re struggling that we really notice how much we need good friends in our life.

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My mom is my fitness inspiration.

Whether it’s a weight loss or fitness support group, a tight-knit family, or a group of close friends, we can’t go through life alone. We’re social creatures and we need other people to be there for us from time to time.

I’m a fairly independent person and, honestly, a lot of times I just like to be alone. However, I wouldn’t have made it this far by myself. I’m really lucky to have amazing parents who love and support me, and siblings who I can be fighting with one minute and laughing with the next. I’m also so fortunate to have made some great friends at school.

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Even though we’re all in different places, we’re still together at heart.

Three of my closest girlfriends are studying abroad this semester, which has been kinda tough on me. However, distance has not kept us apart. Even though we’re all in different locations around the world, I’ve been able to keep in touch with all of them. And if I’m having a bad day I know they’ll be there for moral support, even if it’s the next day their time.

And even though I’m missing some of my core group, I still have a great support system at school. The key is to surround yourself with people who care about you and your best interest.

Good friends will tell you the truth no matter what. They’ll tell you if those jeans really do make you look fat, but they’ll also give you that “oh hot damn” look when you dress well. They’ll walk you to the health center when you’re sick and encourage you to eat nothing but soup and crackers for a week. Good friends will stay in and watch a movie with you when you’re too tired to leave your bed. They know exactly what to say or what not to say to make you feel better. They’ll listen to you rave about your victories, but also hear about the bad times. And most importantly, they’ll stay by your side no matter what happens.

I feel truly blessed to have so many great people in my life (even if they’re not always physically with me).

Now, think about your life. Who is in your support network? Are there people who don’t belong there? Are there people you wish were there?

Only keep around the people who are good for you; you’ll be so much happier if you do.

Recovering from an Injury

One of the things I struggle most with is getting hurt. It’s not that I get injured often, but when I do I have a tough time with the recovery.

Recently I was experiencing some knee pain, probably from running and all of the high-impact workouts I love to do. The pain wasn’t that bad to begin with, so I kept working out on it, ignored the pain, and just hoped it would go away.

Honestly, this was the WORST thing I could have done. As you might guess, the continued impact made the pain worse. It got the point where I could barely get up the stairs and was limping regularly. NOT fun.

It’s really hard for me to recover when I experience injuries like this, because I HAVE to move. I cannot just sit around, even if it’s in my own best interest. I get antsy, and fidgety, and go a little crazy. Even when I’m taking a “rest day” I have to at least get a little physical activity.

These tendencies make is awfully difficult to recover from any kind of injury. My knee kept getting worse, because I was refusing to take the time to REALLY rest it.

Finally, it got to the point when I realized that I had to take a time out. I forced myself not to do anything for a full 24 hours. I spent the day sitting around, my leg elevated, trying to get the swelling down.

The next day my knee felt SO much better. It’s really amazing what good rest can do for the body. Rest is when you give your body a chance to recover. In the grand scheme of things rest can be just as important as exercise.

Now, that’s not to say that my knee was 100% better after ONE day of rest. I’m still nursing my injury and watching what I do to it. I’ve been modifying my workouts (Insanity Max30 has a great modifier track for all of the workouts). Taking things low impact have aided in my recovery, but have not hindered my exercise regime.

As much as I love to go 100% jumping, running, and lifting taking things down a notch every once in a while is probably a good idea.

I’m going to keep resting my knee and keeping a tab on my recovery. I know that if I let my knee heal up I’ll be back to my power jumps and switch kicks again before I know it!

Starting Max30

For those of you who aren’t Shaun T fanatics, you might not know that Insanity Max30, the latest program from Shaun T, was released last month.

Max30 is a grueling 30 minutes of cardio and bodyweight exercise that truly tests your limits!

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Being an avid Shaun T fan and “Insaniac,” I HAD to get the new program. So, I was thrilled when, on Christmas morning, Santa left the nice Insanity Max30 box under the tree for me.

After trying out/ previewing all of the workouts, I “officially” started the 60-day program this past Monday. And now that I’m three days in, all I can say is that IT’S TOUGH.

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Post-workout Day 1 Status: Exhausted!

The workouts are designed so that you push as hard as you can for as long as you can without compromising form or taking a break. When you reach the point where you have to stop, that is your “Max out” time. Shaun asks you to record the first time you Max Out in each workout so that you can see your progress over the 60 days.

Not going to lie, I maxed out pretty quickly the first time. Today’s workout I only made it to 6:45 before my form broke and I had to stop. It was the tricep pushup punches that got me!

What I’ve noticed from doing the first couple workouts is that I’m in pretty good shape for the cardio moves, but when it comes to the strength work I really struggle.

The original Insanity workouts get you in great shape, but there isn’t a huge focus on building strength, particularly in the upper body. Now, Insanity Max30 gives you a chance to build up that strength and take your fitness to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL.

Twice a week you do a strength-based, tabata-style workout. You do pushups, power jumps, tricep dibs, and some other really crazy moves that Shaun has invented. The workout is TOUGH, but SO worth it!

I woke up really sore after the strength workout yesterday, but I know it means I’m working hard and building muscle. ….Although, I’m not exactly looking forward to doing that same workout again tomorrow. I’m not sure if my body is ready to do that again!

So far I’m loving (and hating) Max30, I really think this could be the best Insanity program yet!

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I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and let me know if you’re doing the program too or if you want to give it a try!

What does the New Year REALLY mean?

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Most people take the new year as a “fresh start.” They use the change of year as an excuse to throw diet, exercise, and any semblance of a healthy lifestyle aside for the preceding months. THEN the New Year rolls around, and they make a resolution. Maybe they want to lose weight, exercise more, or just get healthy. These people will take the first few days of the New Year and work their a$$ off to fulfill their resolution. The problem is, this only lasts a few days, a month at most. And yeah, they’ll probably lose weight or maybe see some improvement in health, but the thing is, if the resolution doesn’t last, neither will the benefits.

A year-long resolution can seen SO unattainable. A year is a LONG time, and who knows where we’ll be a year from now. What we need is not to make a New Year’s Resolution, but take the New Year as an opportunity to truly change our lives.

In stead of looking at where we want to be a year from now, we need to start by looking at where we want to be tomorrow, and start from there.

You’re not going to lose 100 lbs overnight, or even just 10 lbs. So when you make a resolution focused around these long-term, number oriented goals, they can seem impossible to achieve.

We need to just take it ONE day at a time. It’s the small victories, like getting in a really good workout, or trying some new, healthy foods, that motivate us to KEEP GOING. These are the small changes that are going to get us to that larger goal. But, by focusing on the daily “wins” we can actually see the progress we’re making.

Instead of resolving to eat healthy for a year, just make it a goal to eat healthy tomorrow. And if that goes well, then you’re probably going to want to do eat healthy the next day too, and the day after that. These are the steps we need to reach our goals.

Sure, there will be days where we can’t make it to the gym, or we have that big slice of chocolate cake. That doesn’t me we can’t do it, it just means we’re human. We can’t let the slip ups lead to a downward spiral, as so many failed resolutions do. Instead, the next day we pick ourselves up, and we get back to the gym, and we eat our vegetables.

So think about what your long-term goals are (don’t  completely cast them away). Write those goals down a piece of paper, then fold it up and put it aside for 2016. Now, think about what you’re going to do tomorrow. What small change can you make that will improve your life tomorrow. And the day after that you can build upon it. Then, when 2016 rolls around, you can unfold that scrap of paper and be amazed by how far you’ve come. Maybe, without even realizing it, you’ll have fulfilled you’re 2015 resolution after all.

So, what are you going to do today? How about tomorrow?

It’s time to make REAL CHANGE.