Tuesday, February 14, 2012

10 reasons i love running.

I love running all days, not just on Valentine's Day. I hope running isn't mad that I've been cheating on it lately with bikes. I will spare you my sob story about how my shins stink. And I told you yesterday that I don't even like Valentine's Day! But the guys that manage the Run Chat (#runchat) on Twitter are asking for ten reasons runners love running.

So I will share with you.

And maybe you can tell me why you love running. Or cycling. Or swimming. Or whatever you like to do.

Here are 10 reasons I love running:

1. How I feel after a successful run (no matter how long or short): accomplished, and pretty awesome.
2. It's my time. My pace, my thoughts.
3. Morning runs are usually followed by tasty brunch.
4. My body feels better, more fit, from going out and running a few miles.
5. It's fun to see the miles add up.
6. Nike tempo run shorts. Compression wear. Lots of running clothes just plain rock.
7. It's a great way to connect to others - at the start line, at the finish, on a trail.
8. You can do it anywhere, in any weather, as long as you have a pair of shoes.
9. Nobody cares what you look like when you're running (thank FSM).
10. It makes me stronger, both physically and mentally.

Bonus: It's something you can do with your friends, even if you're not the same speed. And maybe you'll do something cool like travel to a race together, or train together, or something.

Some of my all-time favorite people at our first half marathon.
Happy February 14, everyone!

Monday, February 13, 2012

happy galentine's day.

Today is Galentine's Day! If you're not familiar, it stems from an episode of Parks and Rec - Leslie (Amy Poehler) describes it by saying "Every February 13th my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home and we just come and kick it breakfast style. Ladies celebrating ladies."

Which got me thinking about my friends that I would love to hang out with on a day like today, but can't because I live nowhere near them.

Valentine's Day seems like kind of a made-up holiday, anyway, right? So why not celebrate a much cooler holiday for your friends who have stuck by you through thick and thin and all that jazz. Maybe that's just me. If you have a sweet Valentine's Day tradition or something. I just think if you're going to tell someone you like them a lot, you have 364 days of the year to do it that aren't so cliche.

But I digress.

I wanted to give a shout out to some of my "galentines" that I wish I could have had breakfast with today. Especially at a little place called Eleven City Diner - too bad it's in Chicago and nowhere near me...

this place rocks. melts faces a little.

The best part about having friends in other places is the opportunity to visit them. Somehow it makes it more fun to reunite, because you don't get a chance to see each other every day like you once did. I have friends all over the U.S. - Florida, Massachusetts, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, New York, California, Nevada, of course Michigan, and probably many other places I can't think of right now. Plus I have a few great friends right here in Colorado. It works, because it has to, but honestly it's easy to keep in touch with the people who are important to you.

So I just want to wish my gals a very Happy Galentine's Day... I'm looking forward to our reunions that we will undoubtedly happen soon (at least, sooner than later, I hope!) and the fun we'll have this year (and in the years to come!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

to master.

I've always thought about getting a master's degree. When I was in school for my undergrad and was approaching graduation, I applied to grad school as a "fallback" plan. I would go if I didn't get my coveted internship spot. Coincidentally I was interviewing for a graduate assistantship the day I got a call to interview for said internship, and later in the week, on the day I took the GRE, I got a call offering me the position at USA Badminton. Needless to say, I accepted that and left all ideas of grad school in the dust.

Don't get me wrong - I didn't give up on the idea of another degree. I looked at different programs and entertained the idea of grad school many times. But I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, and to me it seemed silly to get a master's in something I wasn't sure about. I still wanted it, but I had to find a program that fit.

Now that I've found one I want to pursue (partially because it looks like it incorporates all the parts of my job that I love), I have decisions to make. Do I really want to start this program? Do I want to take out a loan? Do I have time for this?

There are always going to be people who are advocates for higher education, and there are always going to be critics. One blogger/business woman I read regularly basically shoots down grad school because she says it is not practical and there's never a good time to get that kind of degree. Maybe that's true.

I didn't get a master's immediately after my undergrad. I have been working for three years, trying to figure out what I want to do in my life. So no one can accuse me of avoiding the real world with a graduate program.

$$$$$$$. (source.)
Master's degrees are expensive. And I have never been in a position where someone is going to say "Hey! We'll pay for your degree!" My job doesn't offer tuition reimbursement. I can't quit work to go to school full-time and do a graduate assistantship (it's not logical for me), and I don't want to quit work because I like it. Loans take years and years to pay off.

And honestly, I don't need a master's to do the exact job I am doing now. I don't. It might inspire me to have new ideas and new perspectives, but it wouldn't really change things financially. Not today.

But in the future, it might open new doors for me. It might be the thing that makes my resume stand out to someone. I don't know - we can never know what the future will bring, but we can try to prepare for it to the best of our ability.

And mostly, I want to do this for me. You might be thinking, "LindsAy, that's a really expensive way to better yourself. That's stupid." But why should I keep denying myself something I want, for me, when I can do something about it?

It's like this with anything in life, I think. If you set goals for yourself (say, completing a master's program before you're 30 or running a marathon before you turn 27 - that's another story), what's stopping you from accomplishing those goals? Money? Money is always going to be an issue, unless you win the lottery (unlikely) or you become some sort of celebrity or big-wig executive. Ability? Ability doesn't have to hold you back if you have the will or the drive. So what is it that holds you back?

Likely it's what other people say. And that shouldn't matter. If you want to do something, why don't you decide to go for it, despite what someone tells you they think? Like Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right." And while I love to hear what others think about this, from family to friends to social networks... my mind is pretty much made up.

We have to do things for ourselves, not for what other people will think of us. 

It's not going to hurt my feelings if you disagree with me. You can. I welcome it. But know that I'm not going to get a master's for you. I'm getting it for me.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

disordered eating.

Last night I finally got around to read this Runner's World article, which talks about disordered eating. And while a majority of the article discusses runners and their relationship with food, there was one statistic I found particularly sad:
It's estimated that three out of four American women between ages 25 and 45 practice disordered eating, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.
Three out of four? That's actually a huge number, if you're like me and a majority of your friends are in that 25-45 age range. This got me thinking about my own relationship with food, and how there are so many different ways for people to approach nutrition. (Note: I'm obviously not a nutritionist or a dietitian or anything like that. So don't think I'm trying to give advice. I'm just thinking "out loud" here.)

There are about a million diets and ways to approach food. Some of them just seem plain crazy (no, I'm not going to forgo food to only ingest homemade juice for a month, sorry), and some of them seem more reasonable. I've mentioned before that I've tried Weight Watchers, and while it works for some, it absolutely does not work for me for a few reasons. I don't like the idea of having a certain number of points each day, because it makes me think too much about food. Plus, I personally don't believe that packaged, processed, low-fat foods are all that healthy. Maybe in moderation? But when you're relying on points to get you through the day, those are like a crutch.

Plus, there are healthy fats. Nuts and avocados and things that are actually good for your body, but because they have a higher fat content, people choose to avoid them. Like this nutrition counselor says, fat doesn't make you fat. At least, not the good ones. And a lot of times, low-fat or fat-free foods are higher in carbs and lower in protein, which is not helping your body to get what it needs to power you through the day.

Part of it is this perceived image of what we should look like. We want to look like movie stars or singers or Barbie or something outrageous. The media touts these people as the most beautiful, so why wouldn't we want to emulate them? And that's where this problem can start, when we think we need to fit a cookie cutter mold of what's "beautiful" to other people.

Disordered eating is not talked about nearly as much as eating disorders. If you're not sure what disordered eating is, it is explained here (this whole article is worth a read, by the way):

Disordered eaters may engage in excessive dieting, eating when not hungry, eating in secret, skipping meals and primarily eating fattening, over-processed, "comfort" or convenience foods. This can result in low energy, trouble concentrating, anxiety, depression and/or being moderately overweight or underweight. Although disordered eating is considered less serious than eating disorders or obesity, it can lead to both.

And like that Runner's World article said, people will run more to "make up" for the fact that they ate a burger or a piece of cake. People cut foods out completely. People skip meals just to get the number on a scale down to a number on a scale.

What about feeling good in our own skin? What about being healthy because of the exercise we do because we like it, and eating in moderation?

I get it. I'm pretty sure that in some form, I am a disordered eater myself. It's actually pretty likely, given the statistics for someone my age. I mean, I have wanted to look good because of a special event. I have wanted to fit into pants that I used to wear 5+ years ago. I have wanted to be better looking so a guy might notice me. I don't want to be thought of as someone's fat friend. I promise, I get it.

But I also want to eat the vegetables I like (which, for the record, is anything but celery) and a hamburger. I want to enjoy the life I am living, because of the people I am spending it with and the adventures I have, not because of how I might look in a two-piece or because of the attention a stranger is giving me. I want to focus on being healthy, not on being thin. Because being thin doesn't automatically make you healthy.

For me, eating whole foods or foods that are minimally processed is important. And I like to eat meat and cheese sometimes. Running makes my heart and my brain feel good, when I can do it. Swimming makes me feel even better. We are free to make our own choices, but really, the most important thing we can choose to do is be happy with who we are, even if we realize we are a work in progress.

Having negative body image and a poor relationship with food isn't going to make us happy. From that HuffPo article:
Mimi Francis, behavioral health therapist at Green Mountain residential weight loss center, asks, "How well has not liking yourself worked so far? The truth is, it hasn't. In fact, if you dislike your body, it's that much easier to abuse it."
People who truly love and accept themselves will not settle for overeating or starving themselves.
They will do what is necessary to be healthy.
So what is healthy for you? What steps do you take to make sure you are healthy? How do you encourage others to be healthy? I'd love to hear about it.

** Like I said above, I'm not a dietitian or a nutritionist. These are my opinions (along with some articles from people who work on this kind of thing for a living) and they are not meant to imply that I am some sort of expert in anything. But thanks for reading anyway.