December Hydration Challenge Kick-Off

Today is day one of the 21 day hydration challenge, and we are all in on this one! I’m excited to commit to this goal and make it happen. I’m not the best at consistency or discipline so accountability is a good thing. I hope we can be that for you, too, if you join us for the challenge. It’s tough to stay healthy and fit as we struggle to meet commitments and are tempted by the rich foods and treats of the holidays, but this goal is maybe more easy to achieve for some of us (me) than sticking to a diet. In prep, I hopped on the internet and did a wee bit of research to find a few tips that might help us navigate this a bit more easily, and track how awesome we are as we slay this. I said SLAY.

Intake Tips

Measure Up! This one is a tad obvious, but make sure you’re using a bottle or jar with units of measure clearly marked on it somewhere, somehow. Most plastic bottles have this, but now is a good time to make sure yours haven’t worn off over time.

Set a timer It might help to set a timer to remind you to drink water. Especially at first until you establish a few days of consistency, and even more especially if you’re the type of person who keeps you moving all day. When time is flying by and you’re being pulled in every direction, it’s helpful to have a reminder to take a water break.

Form a Small Habit First Try drinking eight ounces before you eat meals or snacks. Or swap out one cup of coffee for hot water with lemon or green tea. Find an easy way to work hydrating into your schedule and life, one that you think you can stick with permanently.

Make Time for Bathroom Breaks Expect to spend more time in the restroom and that it might be annoying. I mean, what else can I say? Just remember that every time you’re in there, you’re getting rid of toxins. I plan on tapering my intake after 4 pm so I’m not up a lot in the night, and I plan to stock up on toilet paper. Good things to keep in mind!

Green Tea I’m addicted to Earl Grey tea like many people are addicted to coffee or soda. I’m still allowing myself to have it once a day, but when I can I’m going to swap it out for green teas and hot water with lemon. Green tea is a super food. If you find yourself needing a little flavor or variety, consider herbal and green teas. You won’t have to feel like you’ve cheated.

Alternate Beverages Alternating between water and your other drinks of choice is one way to up the hydration game. Try mixing it up by switching between water to whatever else you enjoy. If you’re me, that means one glass water, one glass chocolate milk, one glass water. If you find yourself struggling, this might be a good way to fight it.

Fruit and Veg Infused Water I’m excited to try this because fruit is one of my favorite things, and this should be a great way to add some flavor and variety. I like plain water just fine, but something tells me it will get old quickly. The great thing is that there are so many flavor combinations out there, Pinterest is full of recipes. I’m dying to try this Raspberry Rose Vanilla water!

Tracking Methods I plan to track my daily intake as well as how I’m feeling so I can get a better idea of my progress as time passes. For me, being able to see on paper how the challenge has changed my health will motivate me to continue good habits. While I plan on using my bullet journal, there are lots of ways you can track your water intake.

Fitbit or other device I have a Fitbit, but I’m guessing most fancy fitness trackers have some way to record your daily water intake. There are also a multitude of apps out there for this purpose. The Fitbit makes it easy to not only track, but set intake goals. I’ve used it in the past and liked it.

Journal If you have any kind of journal or paper planner, you can track your hydration there. If you’re into bullet journaling like me, make a graph layout and be sure to include your goal in your daily tracker, too. Set reminders and intentions for intake each morning, and ground yourself in your goal before you tackle your day.

Calendar This is probably the most simple way to record of your intake for each day. Whether electronic or paper, all that matters is that final daily total.

 

Finally, be sure to choose methods for intake and tracking that work for you and your lifestyle. Maybe you’ve tried this in the past and weren’t successful. It helps to be honest with yourself about your habits and personality, and reflect on what you need to succeed. We’re all here to support each other, and together, we can do it!

 

Next week, we’ll have giveaway news to share. Until then, remember these tips as you set out on your first weekend drinking crisp cool water and taking many trips to the bathroom. And please share your comments or struggles with us below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

December Hydration Challenge

If you need a bit of help maintaining healthy habits this holiday season, join our Hydration Challenge! I’m kicking it off on Friday with a goal of drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. Check back Friday for the kick-off and giveaway news, as well as some tips on how to track your intake and be successful.  Maybe we can’t stay off sugar this time of year, but at least we can make sure we stay hydrated (because champagne)!

2017 Goals: Revisited

It may seem a bit premature to be revisiting my goals for 2017 and beyond, knowing we still have a month and a half left of this year. However, I like to think of this review as a last-ditch effort to accomplish as many of my goals as possible before 2017 ticks away and we welcome a new year.

TO REVIEW. I wrote about my goals in this post.

“We hear so much talk about #newyearnewme that is almost seems like a requirement that we all resolve to be skinnier or stronger or whatever. I have a hard time with that, because 1. The me that I am right now seems pretty okay, and 2. Shouldn’t we focus more on being a better human being and making meaningful changes in our lives than just the superficial?

Similarly, I don’t think the beginning of the year has cornered the market on when we’re allowed to set goals. Who says you can’t make resolutions at the end of January, or in May or in August? No one, that’s who.”

My mindset now is pretty much the same as my mindset back in January. I’m still working on being a better human in general – a process that I’m pretty sure should never end. It’s always a work in progress.

Some of the goals I set for myself are super easy to measure. Others are a little more subjective. But, let’s see where I’m at, so that I can see what I can work on through the holiday season.

Goal #1: Get More Sleep

I would love to say that this has been a rousing (or not?) success. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. I haven’t been terrible at sleeping, but I haven’t been nearly as dedicated to achieving 7+ hours of sleep a night as I probably should be. I’m always working on this – this weekend for example, I was in bed at 8pm on Saturday night. Mind you, I didn’t go to sleep until around 10, but I was allowing my body to relax and that felt good. As it starts getting darker earlier, getting to bed earlier will be easier. I will do my best to use this to my advantage.

Goal #2: Read More Books

Going hand in hand with getting to bed earlier was making time to read more – I used to be a card-carrying bookworm as a kid, but since college, I haven’t made as much time for reading as I should. I had a goal of reading 30 books in 2017. I think I’ve read… *counts* eight or nine. Fail. Well, maybe not a total fail – I still technically have read more books in 2017 than I read in 2016, so that’s a win. Of those eight books, three were Game of Thrones books, and honestly those should count for at least three books… each. They are effing long. Great, but long. Oof. I’m in the middle of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere right now and I’m really enjoying it. Happy to be back on the book train and totally riding it into 2018.

Goal #3: Balance My Workouts

I definitely worked on this one all year – mixing up my weightlifting with running and Kaza, and now making the jump to CrossFit. CrossFit has definitely given me balance without my having to think about it. Since each workout incorporates cardio work along with strength, I feel like the hour I spend in the gym nearly every day is well-spent and I feel a lot less guilty about missing a workout or taking a rest day (or two) because I know that my body needs the break.

Goal #4: Get More Involved in My Community

Ugh, you guys, this one is a hard fail. I hate admitting that. After the election last year, and after the Women’s March, I was so jacked to fight back through activism and involvement. But, aside from keyboard activism, and voting in my local elections, I have yet to really get involved locally. I can make excuses, but that’s all they’d be. I’ve been educating myself a lot in the last year. Time to turn that outward.

Goal #5: Adjust My Five Year Plan

This goal just makes me laugh out loud. Literally. I think I’ve changed or adjusted my five year plan about four times, significantly, in the last 10 months. Some of that has been because my priorities have changed, but mostly it has to do with external factors dictating some of that five year picture for me. Military life, you guys, it’s a bucket of surprises. Planning anything becomes an exercise in extreme patience and flexibility – something I’m not always good at, but am constantly trying to improve. Perhaps a new goal would be to work on being more tolerant of things that are not within my control. Yes. I think that’s it.

As I said in my post from January, these goals aren’t necessarily time-stamped, and they certainly don’t have an expiration date. I’ve just been trying to mindfully working on them little by little all the time. I will continue to do so through the next month and a half and as 2018 begins, I will have more goals to add, I’m sure.

Did you set goals for 2017? How successful have you been at keeping them? What challenges have you faced?

#SugarScoot Sugar Detox & Water Intake Challenge Update

The good news is, I don’t have diabetes. The bad news is my glucose levels are still wonky. It’s time to up my clean eating game by cutting sugar and drinking more water. Are you in?

Finally. CrossFit.

I’ve been reading fitness blogs for the past five years or so. Running, mostly, obviously. But, way back in 2012, I also stumbled across a few blogs that kept talking about CrossFit: sharing workouts, talking about weightlifting, looking totally jacked and badass and strong. As an athlete, I was immediately intrigued by these workouts. They incorporated so many movements and skills that it seemed impossible to get bored.

I immediately started looking for CrossFit gyms near me – unfortunately, I wasn’t in a position to pay for a membership. So, I put it off. I continued lifting weights and running and following CrossFit from afar. Trying some of the workouts here and there, but that was about it.

This continued until, finally, this past July, I bit the bullet. Clay was on board, too. I’d suckered him in to watching a couple documentaries about it (on Netflix, The Fittest on Earth), and a whole bunch of YouTube videos of past Games’ events and competitions and he was sold.

We’ve been going consistently since July – and consequently my entire fitness mindset has changed. I wrote a little bit about it in my last post, specifically as it related to my diet. I feel like I’ve been able to stop worrying so damn much about what my body looks like (it’s so hard to escape that mindset) and just focus on working hard in class and fueling my body appropriately.

CrossFit catches a lot of flack for being a fad or being too dangerous – none of which I think is true. CrossFit is simply defined as “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” Functional movements performed at high intensity, from varying fitness modalities, such as running, olympic lifting, gymnastics, rowing, biking and more. Pretty straightforward. What I like best about it, is that any CrossFit workout can be scaled to fit an athlete’s skill level – literally anyone can do CrossFit. Whether you’re a collegiate athlete in peak shape, or you’re a 70 year old who just wants to be able to bend down to pick something up off the floor, CrossFit could be for you.

I love being challenged every day when I go to the gym. Granted, I sometimes read the workout and crap my pants for half a second thinking about how smoked I’m going to be afterward. But. I still enjoy the feeling of being humbled by something as simple as box jumps. Or rope climbs. Or, as we did on Saturday, a 5K row paired with a gnarly barbell complex.

I’ve learned a ton of new skills since starting CrossFit – and improved many others. I’ve surprised myself. I’ve been frustrated. I’ve been nervous. I’ve overcome fears.

All in the confines of a gym, surrounded by other sweaty people going through the same progressions I am.

I still have so much to learn, so many skills to develop and improve – but I’m so glad I’ve finally made myself CrossFit legit. There is just so much opportunity for growth and I can’t wait to see where this takes me.

 

Race Recap: 2017 Vacation Races Rocky Mountain Elk Double

For the third consecutive year, I ran my favorite race; the Vacation Races Rocky Mountain Half in August. Because I am an ambassador for the race series, I did receive a free entry in exchange for this post, so let me tell you allllllll about it! If you’ve been reading our little blog for a bit, you’ve likely seen my previous recaps of this race here and here. But this year was different for a few reasons, and none of them were easy.

Lake Estes and the glacier topped peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park

Like last year, I completed the Elk Double, which means I did the 5k race on Friday evening and the half marathon on Saturday morning. About a week before the race, I was told my beloved dog, Archie the Pug, had a spleen tumor and might only have thirty days left with us. All my race plans and thoughts went out the window. I almost decided not to run the race at all in favor of spending every minute with Archie. The problem was that after all these years of running, I had inspired some family members to sign up for the 5k too (a post about that is in the works, because it’s the coolest feeling). All of this meant I had an obligation to them to be there, they were counting on me. My husband and I decided that we could maybe include Archie in the race by buying him a bike trailer/pet stroller and we would push him through the 5k and dedicate our race to him.

A few days before the race, we decided to get a second opinion about his tumor because it just wasn’t adding up with what we knew about him and his symptoms. He’s been struggling with some other serious health issues this summer, and we wanted to be positive about his prognosis. Low and behold, he didn’t have a tumor at all, but an enlarged liver! Not a good thing, but certainly not terminal! THERE WAS SO MUCH REJOICING.

At that point, we were all in for the race weekend we had planned months ago with family. I knew this race weekend would be pretty pathetic for me as far as performance was concerned. As you may have heard me say previously, Archie’s health issues require 24-hour care and that means my time for training over the summer vanished when he got sick in June. Although, carrying a 32-pound dead-weight dog to get water, to potty, and to eat does work the core and back muscles.

I had NO expectations for myself other than to finish the races in the allotted time, but a last-minute half marathon course change an unexpected foot issues had other ideas for me, but more on that in a sec. Race weekend arrived and we excitedly departed for a weekend of camping on our property, racing. And of course, looking cute on the course.

Flat me for the weekend, and all in Skirt Sports, of course!

We arrived at the expo and met up with my sisters-in-law and their husbands. After chatting for a few, I headed off to volunteer at the expo. Since all Vacation Races events are cup free, I pitched in at the Hydro Pouch booth to give runners their pouches they’d bought in advance. Showing people how to use the nifty little Hydro Pouch was fun, and I got to encourage lots of runners and welcome them to Colorado and Estes Park. After my stint at the booth finished up, I swung by the merch booth to buy another patch for my Toasty Girl Vest. I can’t wait to add all the Vacation Races patches eventually!

2 down, many more to go!

The 5k followed the same course it has since its inception and took us around Lake Estes’ paved bike path at sunset. One of the things I like about this race, and all Vacation Races, frankly, is the race size. There are usually around three thousand runners give or take, and it makes for the perfect level of comradery between runners and a comfortable race experience. No waiting too long for port-a-potties or being packed in your wave like a runDisney runner.

On the course, Archie was a big hit in his stroller, but my goodness, he HATED being pushed. He actually howled and whined and cried and made other runners laugh, and look at us funny, and some, I’m sure, wondered if we were torturing him. It was pathetic, and funny, and slow going. My husband, who never runs, kept outpacing me with the stroller and at one point was far ahead of me. After playing catch up to him, we kept a brisk walking/running pace, which was a mistake I paid for the next morning. Through it all, Archie looked cute, as he does, and when we finished with a horrible time, we gave him our medals.

Archie’s a finisher! I think he just wants my banana, and Lily (left) just wants a ride.

The half is not only my favorite race, but now it’s also my ‘hometown” race since it’s the biggest race near where I’m building my house. It was so awesome to get up pre-dawn and drive the beautiful drive from my property in Allenspark to the start line Estes Park, a distance of about 20 miles. I saw deer and elk on the drive, and it was so much better than getting up a 3:30 to drive an hour and a half like I had to do in previous years. I’m claiming this race as mine!

My strategy with this race is always the same; run the downhills, walk the uphills, especially the big hill that lasts foreverrrrrrrr. I knew they had changed the course, but the announcement went out the same week as the race and I didn’t have a chance to see what changed.

The start was chilly, it was in the low 50’s, and the music was loud. Coffee, hot cocoa, and bananas were staged at the start for runners and spectators. Warm drinks are always welcome at pre-dawn starts, especially at 7500 feet elevation where there is always an early morning nip in the air. I was feeling good and was ready to walk/run the race. I was having no pain as I waited, and no concerns about my race at all. I expected I’d finish around 3:20. Runners from all over the country come to this race, and their excitement is catching. People posed for photos while they moved around to stay warm.

Finally, my wave started and I was right behind my pacer. Almost immediately, I knew there was a problem. Not even a quarter mile in, the top of my left foot was not having it. I could feel a pinching pain deep in my foot with every footfall. The impact of running was too much. I was in trouble, and started to wonder if I would finish at all. It hurt, and I wasn’t even up the first hill yet.

This is the kind of selfie I take at 5:30 in the morning

About that hill. Remember all the folks from out-of-state who were so excited at the start? Those same folks are walking up the first hill too, angry with themselves that they’re already walking and that the elevation is more of a challenge than they expected. I see it happen every year. This is when I try to engage with them and ask where they’re from. No matter what their reply, I reassure them that the elevation is hard for locals like me, too, because it is. 7500 feet of elevation is no joke, and no amount of training can fully prepare you for it. When you take on challenges like this, be kind to yourself when things don’t go as you hoped or planned.

Just keep smiling!

The half course is all on paved surfaces, and follows the 5k course for the first mile which takes runners on the wide bike path that hugs Lake Estes. The course was the same as previous years for the most part, but in order to avoid having runners cross a major highway, they routed us a little differently. Now, we used a new bike underpass under the highway that took us to the beginning of the dreaded long hill. This course change made the race more safe, but it had a drawback mentally for those of us who’d run this race before. What used to be mile six was now mile two.

I made it to mile three where an ambulance and two EMTs waited to help runners in distress. Unfortch, they didn’t have any Biofreeze for my foot. I stopped for a potty break and to fill my hand-held. Before heading out again, I ran into two of my Skirt Sisters, Deb and Jennifer, who nursed me through the race. Deb was also recovering from an injury so the three of us stuck together the rest of the way. Honestly, without them, I doubt I would have been able to finish. Going it alone and in pain was getting to be totally not fun at all.

We kept trucking along and made our way through the race. Aside from my foot, this was the most mentally tough race for me to date. The reason was the course changes. As we came down a slope that used to lead to mile marker eleven, I could see the aid station next the new mile marker; mile seven. I’ll tell ya, when you’re brain sees scenery it remembers from last time and thinks you’re almost done, but you’re not, it’s a punch in the gut. We trudged on, talked a lot about running injuries and treatment, how much we love the scenery, and of course our devotion and love for all things Skirt Sports. Having friends to race with is always so much better.

Mt. Meeker on the left, Longs Peak next to it.

Fighting through the pain was tough, and after describing my symptoms to Deb and Jennifer, we concluded it sounded like I had pulled a tendon in my foot. Not much I could do but bear it. Luckily, Jennifer did have a packet of Biofreeze that she gave to me. Oh, what a wonderful, cooling miracle that green goop is! It helped me finish for sure.

The new route had us backtracking a bit to get back to the underpass and the lake. Mile eleven was finally in sight! We turned onto the Lake Estes bike path and followed it around the western curve of the lake. For me, this was the longest part of the race. You can see and hear the finish line, and it seems like these last two miles are never going to end. We kept asking (rhetorically) where the heck the finish was. That’s what happens when you take almost four hours to finish, you just want it to be OVER.

Worst race time ever, but worth every moment with great people.

 

Still love Vacation Races medals most!

I was never so happy for a race to be over, and although it was a terrible showing on my part, I’m proud of myself for sticking it out. I’ve been known to quit things, and I didn’t quit. I may have hobbled and grumbled a smidge, but that’s okay. I made it, and had to remind myself that even though this is my “hometown” race and in my backyard, it’s the most challenging course in the Vacation Races circuit in terms of starting elevation and hills. Plus, there’s always next year to chase that PR!

Medal Haul

I’ll do it again next year. The challenges I faced were mine, and part of that is learning how to mentally deal with curve balls like course changes. Even though I didn’t finish like I wanted to (my goal back in February was to beat my PR for the race by ten minutes), I learned some great things about adversity and how to listen to my body. This race was a great experience this year. I always recommend Vacation Races events!