Tag Archives: Inspiration

Who’s a Greatist? #imagreatist

Why am I a Greatist? I applied and was chosen (wooooop!) to be an official Greatist ambassador.

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The Greatist is a health and fitness source with quality (and fun) content. Every fact is cited (by a PubMed study), every sentence is meticulously verified, and every article expert-approved (source).

Their motto: Everyone has a choice to be more fit, healthy, and happy. And though our goals and ambitions are often similar, each person is unique, every story different. A greatist is someone who chooses better to improve their fitness, health, and happiness. Are you a greatist?

I love the Greatist website and I subscribed to their daily tip emails (and podcasts)! I find the range of topics impressive (healthy recipes, workout guides, day to day healthy living tips, to name a few) and the content is always easy to understand. My favorite part of the site: the infographics. Learn by picture, sign me up.

When Greatist announced they were opening apps for their first ambassador program, I signed up. I love connecting with other fabulous, fitness savvy people. I want to share my story and learn from others. New tips about how to make healthier choices, thanks.

So what does one do as a Greatist Ambassador?

Greatist Ambassador. super noun. a person who makes healthier choices and inspires others to do the same. By becoming a Greatist Ambassador, you take on the awesome challenge of not only making better choices for yourself, but promising to empower, inform, and inspire others to become greatists, too. At the same time, we want to reward people who are already inspiring others to be healthier and happier! Together, we can impact and improve people’s lives, one small choice at a time — and that’s pretty kickass.

Pretty awesome philosophy.

Here is a snippet of my application:

I will always go to my peers for support, information, advice, workouts, clothing and shoe suggestions and/or reviews and (thankfully) my (not  creepy online) friends and readers now come to me for the same things. They are the most kind, compassionate and caring people. They inspire me and motivate me to do my best in any situation. They compliment me and encourage me. They tell me when I am wrong and when I need to suck it up. They ask me for my advice and appreciate and accept my opinion (as I unfortunately am not even close to being a fitness or health professional). As a healthy living blog reader who tries to do the same with others, it is extremely appreciated!

I know that every person has a different story and different reasons for healthy living. I know it is not easy (or realistic) to always maintain a strict healthy lifestyle. I pride myself on the balance I have between healthy choices and general enjoyment of life. I extend this by sharing my story and motivating others about running and fitness (yahoo, new certified spin instructor!) and healthy living! Honestly, I really enjoy the Greatist and I adore the site and its content. I would love to be part of the ambassador program and continue to spread the (unfortunately) sometimes not so obvious word that being healthy is freaking awesome.

Favorite thing: An open invitation to come hang at Greatist HQ if you’re ever in New York City! Laura, let’s make that happen, soon.

The first thing I want to do as an ambassador is spread the word about the site.

Webpage: http://greatist.com/

Manifesto: http://greatist.com/team/health-fitness-manifesto/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greatistblog

Twitter: https://twitter.com/greatist

Pinterest (this is my favorite): http://pinterest.com/greatist/

A-Z Guide: http://greatist.com/az-guide/

Daily Tips Subscription: http://greatist.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=32102b33cde61812e73270af4&id=4fee4617f5

The second thing is up to you guys. Make a healthier choice, even just one per day. Share it with others. It is that simple to inspire someone else to do the same. Use the hash tag #imagreatist and let someone else inspire you as well!

I am excited for this opportunity, I truly believe in their philosophy and I am honored to be a part of the program!

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Finding 2012 NYC Marathon Inspiration at Columbus Circle (Courtesy of Asics)

BIA

Welp, the NYC Marathon is now 9 days away. My emotions are still running rampant. I go from PURE JOY and EXCITEMENT after watching things like this (watch the whole thing, its worth it):

The Road To The Finish from StoryView on Vimeo.

to SHEER PANIC when I think about whether or not my body can handle the 26.2 mile journey.

To be completely honest, I started this post yesterday and saved a draft to finish today (because I was leaving work). It was going to be all about my anxiety and fears and lack of self-confidence and ability.

I am REALLY happy I waited a day to write this because 1. Who wants to read that kind of garbage and 2. I made my way down into the Columbus Circle subway station where Asics has literally taken over and decorated the walls with marathon goodness. First stop, finding my name amongst the runners!

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To be completely honest, in the seconds leading up to finding my name I had a full blown hot flash and had to rip off my jacket because I was sweating so much. Nerves or excitement? Let’s go with the latter.

I snapped a new pictures of some friends’ names running as well but (even though it was in alphabetical order) the names were not that easy to find and of course, I was having a series of hot flashes.

There are hundreds of feet of walls covered in marathon paraphernalia.

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The whole display is amazing. All of my fears and worries disappeared when I was walking through and looking at everything. I decided that whenever I am feeling worried or doubting myself next week, I will leave work for a bit and just stand down there! Looking at the displays brings feelings of excitement ONLY. I need all of the positive energy I can get leading up to November 4!

If you are running (and live and/or work in NYC) and have not yet visited the display, I highly suggest you get on it.

If you will be spectating the race, where will you be? I want to look for everyone!

Running for a Cause (and for meaning): The Recycling Runner

I was going through some of my new followers on Twitter last week and one jumped out at me. His name was “The Recycling Runner” and his bio said “Running enthusiast that collects all roadside recyclables as he runs. Redeems the recyclables & the $$ is donated to the American Heart Association.”

I followed him back and sent him a direct message asking for his email address because I needed more information. He responded with an inspirational story that was BEYOND what I could have expected. I wanted to post about Joe’s story and his cause on my blog simply because you don’t come across great people like this very often and I thought his story should be shared (and shared, and shared).

Name: Joe Sullivan

From Joe:

I am excited and honored that you want to do a feature about me and my project on your blog.

I am an Army Veteran (17 years service), Husband of an Army Officer and Father of three boys – we just had twins last week!! I went to Virginia Commonwealth University and earned my Bachelor in Fine Arts and since then I have been working as an Independent Artist.

I have been a lifelong runner, but in May of 2004, shortly after my return from Operation Iraqi Freedom, I suffered a Heart Attack after an Army Physical Fitness test. I luckily survived what my doctor called the “Widow Maker.” Since then, with great rehabilitation both physically and vocationally, I now have a new chance on life.

I worked hard on getting back to running because I missed it so much. In 2009, I ran my first Marathon in 4:18. This proved to me I can do anything in running again, just not with the fast pace I once had. In 2010, I met a running coach that trained the Fort Lee 10 Miler team and with his expertise I was able to compete in that year’s Army Ten Miler. I ran it in 74 minutes and that was what I call my comeback race. Since then I have run a ton of half marathons, improved my marathon time to 3:52, and started the Recycling Runner Project. The project kept me running even if I didn’t have a scheduled race. At first it was because I was tired of seeing my running routes filthy, but then I thought, “There has to be something else I can do with this junk.” Considering I am dealing with heart disease every day, I figured I should redeem the recyclables and donate the money to the American Heart Association.

Q&A:

Where are you located?

I am in Upstate New York in Fort Drum.

Do you collect recyclables on every run?

Yes I do this on every run. I never pass up a chance to grab a recyclable.

What do you carry with you?

I carry a Camelbak daypack for short runs and a larger hiking rucksack like pack for longer runs- both have a 120oz Camelbak, in some random pockets you’ll find some GU packets and the main portion of the packs are always lined with a trash bag, so the often filthy recyclables don’t stink up my gear too badly. I usually train/run at 8-9 min miles and usually keep my eyes peeled as I run down the road or trail. When I see a recyclable I drop my pack, open it up, I usually inspect the can or bottle (don’t pick up cigarette or chewing tobacco filled bottles or cans) empty it of dirt or liquids the best I can and crush it up to save space – then throw my pack back on and get back to pace as quickly as I can. This does greatly effect consistent pacing over long distances, but it can be a great quick recovery, can simulate practicing surges, and it really makes the run oddly more fun & rewarding. My only issue is the removing of the backpack sometimes as quickly as 2 steps later can often get frustrating – the on & off of the pack really holds things up as for the running aspect. So I am engineering a pack that I can expedite the collection process without taking the pack off my back. I am hoping to have fun with the engineering portion of the project by creating a pack, a pull cart and a push cart to hold the recyclables just to see what would be more efficient for the job. In designing these things I hope to create a product that maybe other runners would consider wearing in order to do the same thing. I mean who else has a closer look at our road sides and can clean them up easier than us runners, right?

Does anyone else help?

No I do this alone.

Do you organize any runs with others?

No, if I run with others I often say “Don’t mind me while I stop for these things.”

Do you organize clean ups of any areas, trails, running paths?

I have not organized anything, but would love to one day see a town, city, state or national run day that everyone does this – it would be amazing!!

Do you keep track of how much you pick up?

I am keeping track of my numbers as I get home just to see how much I collect. Although I have been doing the cleaning up for a number of years I only recently started calling myself the RecyclingRunner for a little over a month and started tracking my project’s results since then. Below is one of my recent posts (and the numbers have climbed quite a bit since):

              • 7 days of running: in 38 miles I found 47 plastic bottles, 59 Aluminum cans, 4 glass bottles, 23 Nonrefundables and even watched someone toss some cans out their window as they passed me (they must’ve known I was the RecyclingRunner)!

How much money have you donated to the AHA?

Sadly because it is only 5 cents at a time, it takes a while to build any serious amount. I opened an account that is strictly for the redeemed money and when I reach $100 dollars I will be making my first donation. I am currently a little over $20 dollars, but have not made the initial donation because of the goal I set to meet. I hope to one day maybe have financial backers that will maybe match 10 cents to every item I redeem or something of that nature to help the donation amount become more substantial. Regardless of the amount donated (which one day may be a significant amount), the project is the idea of cleaning up the world we run in, recycling these discarded items and giving the money to someone or some organization that can use the money for good. I wish it was a tremendous amount for you to pass on to your readers, but sadly it is a slow process.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States (source, source). I really feel that he is doing a wonderful thing for the cause as well as our community and of course our environment. Please share his story! Perhaps we could all be involved in some way in the future!

For further information on Joe’s Recycling project, please visit his Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/RecyclingRunner.

recyclingrunner

Photo Credit – RecyclingRunner

Blogger Q&A: Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete

I am beyond excited about this Q&A. If anyone read my post about my decision to become a vegetarian, you would have read about how Matt Frazier’s blog, No Meat Athlete was a HUGE help and is still (and probably will be for a long time) my go-to for information, recipes and general support! I emailed Matt with some questions I had wanted to post in this section of my blog and he is freaking awesome and got back to me with very detailed and informative answers! I am very excited to share this with everyone!

1. Who inspired you to share your story (and to continue to share your story to tens of thousands of people) on NMA?

I’m half-embarrassed to admit that the push to get started with something (anything!) was Tony Robbins, the motivational guy from those infomercials. I went to one of his seminars and actually really enjoyed it, and learned a lot about the nearly-vegan diet he advocated.

When I got home, I did a 10-day challenge to eat essentially vegan + fish, and I felt so great about it that I decided to go completely vegetarian after that. I was worried about what it would do to my training — I was working towards qualifying for Boston at the time — and when I did some research, I couldn’t find any great sources of information for plant-based athletes. So I figured I’d start something myself to write about my experiences and what I was learning, and that became No Meat Athlete.

2. For readers who do not read your blog, can you please share how transitioning to a plant-based diet improved your times as an endurance runner?

When I decided to go vegetarian, I was dealing with some IT-band syndrome that kept me from running for about six weeks. So it was probably a month of eating vegetarian (or eating mostly-vegetarian while transitioning) before I did my first long run on the diet, and I’ll never forget it. I ran a 12-mile route that I ran a lot back then, and I ran it faster than I ever had and felt better than ever. And this was after six weeks of almost no running!

From there, I started training for what would be the marathon where I qualified for Boston. Over that six or seven months, I was able to workout harder and more frequently than I had been before, without having any injury issues. I’m always hesitant to say, “Yes, that was directly the result of my diet,” because there were lots of new things going on then. But it certainly played a part, and many of the vegan athletes I’ve talked to have confirmed that they notice the same recovery benefits.

I ended up running a PR (by over 10 minutes!) in that marathon and qualified for Boston by one minute. To this day, it remains the single most gratifying moment of my life as a runner; I had worked so hard at it for something like seven years and couldn’t believe that journey was over. It was a relief too, because finally I felt free to train for other things. So from there I got into ultrarunning and ran my first 50-miler the next year, and that’s where I am now.

3. I know you did not become a vegan immediately, any advice for vegetarians trying to make the transition to vegan?

For me, going vegan was an entirely different experience when my heart was fully in it than the first time I tried it, about a year and a half after going vegetarian, when I felt that I “should” go vegan but somehow wasn’t ready yet.

But I don’t think the approach I took, even that first time, was bad. What I did was just what I did when I went vegetarian and recommend to others: commit to a time period that you’ll stay with it, and once that’s up you’re free to do whatever you want without feeling like you failed.

What I did the first time I tried to go vegan was commit to just one month (and for some, maybe a week or 10 days might be a better fit). When I reached the end of that 30 days, I knew I wasn’t ready. It was still hard and it didn’t feel right, so when the month was over, I went back to eating cheese occasionally. But that month taught me a lot, and only a few months later, I decided again to go vegan, this time for good.

A big part of the difference in the two attempts was the motivation. The first time, I wanted to go vegan, but didn’t feel that I needed to. Honestly, if you’re vegetarian and want to be vegan but can’t quite make it happen, I’d suggest reading or watching documentaries about how dairy cows are treated. For me, hearing about what goes on there made it very easy to go vegan.

4. Can you please give an example of your diet on a typical day?

There are a few constants in my diet each day — a smoothie in the morning, and a salad or plate of cooked greens (some type of kale, usually) in the afternoon. Making sure I get at least these two things each day helps to keep me on track for the rest of the day, since after a smoothie or salad, you tend to feel good and not want a bunch of junk food.

For lunch, I almost always do leftovers of whatever the previous night’s dinner was, just because it’s quick and convenient.

And dinner, usually, is something pretty simple but healthy and varied. Beans and rice are a favorite of mine, and we make lots of lentil dishes too. Usually it’s some combination of grains and beans or lentils — even if we’re having a pasta dish, for example, we’ll add chickpeas to red sauces, or white beans to pesto sauces (a lot of authentic Italian dishes, actually, mix beans and pasta).

And throughout the day, I fill in the gaps with snacks — hummus in a pita, lots of fruits, nuts or trail mix, almond butter on a bagel, for example. Even though I don’t worry much about protein, even as a vegan, I do try to make sure that every meal or snack has at least some good protein source in it, even if’s just a little bit. That keeps me from just eating carbohydrates all the time, a mistake a lot of vegetarians make.

5. Does your diet change at all when it becomes closer to race day?

It does. About a week or so before the race, I start to increase my portion sizes, and I focus more on carbohydrates. As the week goes on, especially in the last two days before the race or so, I start to take in significantly more carbohydrates, sipping on sports drinks instead of water just to get more carbs wherever I can to top off the tank. And the day before the race, I eat my really big, carb-loading meal at lunchtime, and then just a light dinner so that I sleep well and have more time to digest the big meal. I actually wrote a post on my blog that goes into more detail about what to eat the week before a race; you can check that out if you’re interested.

6. What was your favorite finish line?

It’s got to be the one at my first marathon, Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego back in 2002. The Rock ‘n’ Roll races always do a good job of creating a party atmosphere at the finish, but more than that, it was that I was so miserable for the last 8 miles of that race that nothing has ever looked so beautiful as the finish did then. I made so many mistakes during the training for that first race, it was a wonder I finished at all. But the worst part was that, even knowing that my training hadn’t gone well and I had struggled a lot with injury, I was still naive enough that I let my adrenaline convince me I could run a 3:10 and qualify for Boston that day! Instead, it was a 4:53.

7. I was an inaugural member of “Run Your BQ.” Can you give everyone a brief explanation of the program?

Sure! The goal of Run Your BQ is what it sounds like — to help our members run their fastest marathons and qualify for Boston. Rather than put that information into a book, it’s an interactive experience. So in addition to articles and training plans, there are videos, audios, live Q&A sessions, and of course the forums where members can get help from each other or from me and Jason.

Jason and I are a good combination — he’s super fast (2:39 marathon PR) and he’s a running nerd who knows tons about technical aspects of getting faster. I, on the other hand, tend to focus on the bigger-picture things that I had to use to go from 4:53 in my first marathon all the way down to 3:10 to get to Boston. So we bring different skills and approaches to the table, and I think that’s extremely valuable for our members.

8. Do you have a running blog and/or veg blog that you consider a go-to for information and resources?

Honestly, I don’t really read many blogs. There are only 1 or 2 that I subscribe to and read every post from, but they’re not about running or food. Strength Running is my favorite running blog and I learn a lot there; Jason (also from Run Your BQ) has a way of presenting technical running information in a way that makes it interesting. Choosing Raw is my favorite vegan blog, even though I’m far from a raw foodie. But Gena makes some great food and writes a lot of thought-provoking posts.

I want to extend a HUGE thank you to Matt. His blog is full of helpful posts about running and being active on a plant-based diet! His recipes are also amazing, there are recipes for every meal (make sure to check out the smoothies)! Please visit No Meat Athlete for some wonderful blog browsing!

Blogger Q&A: Fitness Instructor Erin

I met Erin Bulvanoski in college. I became close friends with her only a year ago. I am very upset (and I am very sure she is as well) that we wasted so many years not being close friends.

I started reading her blog, One More Cupcake Please, long before I started my own. I can honestly say I have never met anyone with so much contagious energy and love for teaching fitness. She inspires me to keep moving forward and pursue new fitness goals. With that said, we had a little chat and I wanted to share her wisdom with everyone 🙂

Why did you want to become a certified fitness instructor?

At the time I decided to get certified, I was looking for some structure. I had grown up swimming on team after team and graduated college with a huge hole in my life. I had no one telling me what to do and when to do it and I struggled to find a workout routine. I eventually got hooked on Turbo Kick (a version of cardio kickboxing) at my local gym and found I truly looked forward to it all week. I began feeling like instead of wanting someone to tell me what to do, I could become certified and be the one in control. A month later, I got certified and was ready to go!

What do you consider to be your favorite part of being a fitness instructor?

I have many favorite things about being an instructor, the biggest one being, motivating my classes. If I could, I would quit my job and just become a full-time motivator. It gives me so much excitement and joy to see people working out and pushing themselves and even smiling while doing it. To come up afterwards and tell me they love my class or they can’t wait until next week. It is amazing. Selfishly, I love the structure it gives to my working out. I have set days and times that I am always at the gym, and I can tailor the music and workouts to things I want to improve or work on. No matter how tired or lazy I feel, I have no choice but to get there for my class.

Any defining moments with a member of your class that you feel made the job fulfilling?

There are so many little moments that make the job fulfilling but the biggest ones for me are those who try the class for the first time and then enjoy it. Fitness classes can be super intimidating. You think everyone else knows what they are doing, or that you are too uncoordinated or you can’t keep up, but, if you give yourself a chance, you soon realize that you are just as good, if not better, than everyone else around you. When I see someone say it is their first time in class and then the next week I see them again, and then again, I know I am doing my job. For some reason, they built up enough confidence in my classes to keep going and that means everything to me.

What is the hardest part of being a fitness instructor?

The hardest part of being in instructor is getting rid of classes. I grow so attached to my classes, especially the ones I have held onto for a while, because they are all a part of my life. We chat, we laugh, we yell and sweat together and I get so upset when I have to move on. Sometimes its just new schedule conflicts like when I got a new job and started working later, I had to get rid of earlier evening classes and things like that. I feel empty for a while when it is over because I have grown so used to the people and the routine. Like all things though, I do find other ones to teach and new people to meet and life goes on!

I have been in a class before where I probably shouldn’t have signed up (tired, hungover, too sore etc.). What do you do to motivate your class, or an individual in the class that is slacking?

If I can pick out an individual or a group that are not pushing it, I may or may not drag them to the front. I won’t call them out directly, I will act like it is random, but sometimes just moving them to the forefront motivates them. Other times, if the entire class is low on energy, I will stop the music and try to pump them up, may even jokingly threaten to start over 🙂 That usually works to get them moving! My final tactic is when we take a water break, to explain that you can burn a maximum of 1,000 calories a class if you are pushing it and only 750 if you are dogging it. Most people are there to burn fat so hearing those numbers can be motivating enough!

Favorite class to teach and why?

My favorite class to teach is TurboKick. It was my first love and after 2 years of teaching it, I am pretty comfortable with the format and can easily play around with the music and workouts. It is completely choreographed to music and has some random dance elements to it on top of the sheer power of boxing so the combination can really get you working hard, but also having fun. I also choose all of the music to get everyone going and get so many requests from the students that it keeps it very interactive as well.

You’re also a runner and have run a number of races, including half marathons, can you give an example of a week’s training schedule that incorporates the fitness classes and runs?

Teaching fitness classes on top of running training can be tough. I have hit a spot many times where I have had to scale back a bit on my running in order to prevent injury. The key is to view fitness classes as a great cross-training workout, especially when you incorporate weights. If you are just running and running all the time, your body is building endurance, but not strength. You can also plateau or wear your body down. I run on days I don’t teach to let my body rebuild. Some days, I will double up and do a run in the morning or class in the afternoon but not everyday. The key is to keep your body building because it will all help your running. So right now I teach Mondays and Tuesdays, therefore, I run Wed-Friday and then fit one in on the weekend as well. Sometimes I will add another personal strength training day on Thursday afternoon but other than that it is fitness first, running second.

What do you consider the most difficult part of running?

The hardest part for me is listening to my body. When I workout, I go balls out. I don’t know how to just leisurely run or casually hit the gym. I am always trying to push myself in my workouts and maximize. When I would train for runs in the past, I would run before teaching, then go teach, then do abs, and repeat the following day. I thought I wasn’t allowed rest when I was training. This past half marathon training, however, taught me to slow down. I got terrible shin splints in the beginning of training. Instead of giving up, I began to scale back my running, focus on days where I wasn’t teaching to get my miles in, stretch, and be okay with taking a day off if my body was beyond exhausted. I ran my best time for that race and realized that sometimes over-doing it can just back-fire. It is okay to rest your body because it will reward you for doing so.

What was your favorite finish line and why?

Hands down the best finish line was for my first half marathon: The Diva’s Half Marathon. If you are a woman looking for an awesome race, or if you are running your first half, I highly, highly recommend this race. It is so motivating and fun that you forget you are running 13 miles. In fact, at mile 12, they give each woman a hot pink boa and a tiara to wear for the last mile. Then they have photographers lining the final mile to take pictures of you like the paparazzi, and when you cross, a hot fireman/hottie in a tuxedo hand you a red rose and a glass of champagne…I am not even joking. Then they take more photos of you with your rose. The last mile flew by as I posed for pictures, adjusted my tiara, and awaited my hot man at the finish line. Major score!

Do you have any advice for anyone who is looking to become a certified fitness instructor?

If you are looking to become a fitness instructor..stop hesitating. Don’t tell yourself you aren’t sure if you can do it, if you will get a job somewhere, or if you will like it. The answers are, you can do it, you will find a gym if you keep at it, and it will become the best decision you have ever made. I mean how amazing is it to get paid to workout, free gym memberships, tailor the workout to what you like, listen to songs that pump you up, make new friends, and jazz up your day? It is an unbeatable experience that I wish everyone could have. Find a class you love, look into where to get certified and just go. You will never regret it.

What was the first blog you read that inspired you to create your own?

To be honest, I didn’t set out to write a healthy living blog. I set out to find an outlet for my feelings. At the time I started One More Cupcake Please, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked, I couldn’t find a groove at the gym, and I was starting a new and scary life in the real world. I wrote forever without telling anyone and eventually I sent it to a few friends and it grew from there. I started learning that a blog should have a central topic and I realized that most of my posts were about food and workouts so I chose the healthy living route. I began discovering blogs like Eating Bird Food, Carrots ‘N’ Cake and Peanut Butter Fingers and they all had a unique style that was easy to learn from. I hope to one day make this my living because my passions are truly thriving with each and every post.

Erin’s blog is awesome. The writing is sincere and workouts are seriously sweat-inducing. Once again, her blog is One More Cupcake Please, head on over and check it out!

Laura, Erin and I after the AHA Wall Street Run