It’s been a while…I’ve missed you! A little housekeeping update for you: I’ve decided to move my usual Monday posts to Wednesdays in order to spread the love out more evenly throughout the week. That being said, I also wanted to focus a little bit more on giving wellness advice and better habit forming practices as we continue to motivate each other and work towards finding a more balanced way to incorporate a healthy lifestyle and targeted fitness goals into our daily lives–so that’s what a typical Wednesday post will be about!
In case you feel like you missed anything on Monday, you can check out my “Weekly Wisdom” section in the bottom right corner of the Meg in the Meantime homepage–I’ll be posting a new inspirational quote each week. This week I wanted the quote to really strike a nice balance for my overall blogging goals so I decided to go with: “Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being. Enjoy the journey as you strive for both.”
Now, moving on: I really enjoyed sharing my little wellness hack of rolling your feet with a tennis ball while at work, or at the end of the day (really whenever you can) and ended up having a bunch of people ask me for some more tips; therefore, I figured the best thing to do was make a blog post out of it!
And so, without further ado, may I present to you my best wellness tips for training. Note: this can be training for a race, training your body and mind for better daily health and wellness habits, or just training for whatever life throws your way…because that’s a real thing, too!
Meg’s Top 10 Wellness Tips When Training (for races and life):
I decided to do a countdown style because it seemed more fun that way.
10. Less screen time. I read a wonderful article this morning from Fast Company called “What Happened When I Stopped Using Screens After 11p.m.” I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, and think you should read it, but I’m pretty sure you can figure out the scientific result and grandiose benefits: less screen time = more sleep, more reading time, more quality time with the special people in your life. I really like this concept and the thought of a consistent peaceful and unplugged before bed habit sounds like something we all could use. Once grad school is over for me in two weeks, I won’t be walking in the door at 9:30pm at night anymore and will definitely focus some attention on my before bed habits and turning off all screens (TV, laptop, and phone) around me. Stay tuned on that one!
9. Accountability. I’ve written before about the power of accountability and the benefits that come from using it as a tool while tackling new (and daunting) health and fitness challenges, such as the 30 Days Abs Challenge that I am currently working through with my friend, Kristi, who lives back home in New Jersey. But, from a wellness perspective, I just can’t write enough about how nice and encouraging it is to have someone with you on the journey. When things start to fall apart physically and/or mentally, or you feel too tired to wake up and workout, accountability really makes the difference: someone is there for you, waiting for you, understands you, and is ready to encourage you to keep moving. Please, try this with something important that you want to accomplish–I promise it will be worth it.
8. Write it down. I’ve always been a big writer, so this one comes naturally to me, but I realize this isn’t the case for most people. Sometimes accountability can come in a different form: a written document to serve as a reminder. A reminder can serve multiple functions: on one extreme the written document can be a reminder of where you were a few months ago in training because you’ve written down your progress along the way or, on the opposite side the spectrum, a written document can be a reminder to make sure to complete your mini daily fitness goals. Whatever it is for you, just write it down: journal every night or at least once a week, post your accomplishments and progress on social media, put a white board next to the door in your apartment or house, scribble your daily goals on a post-it note and slowly cross each one off (because that is SO satisfying!), or set an alarm on your phone or laptop calendar to complete your task.
7. Unplug. We are way too connected at all times…doesn’t a break sound refreshing? Once you are working out (hopefully more so outside now that the weather is turning into a proper spring!), take off your headphones and just listen to the sounds around you and take in the sights. I used to never be able to run without heavy rap music blasting in my eardrums (I was probably avoiding the terrible cadence of my poor breathing habits), but over time I gained an amazing running mate, Becca, and learned that conversations carried our runs way better than any Biggie song ever could…plus, talking while running is a great pacing tool. Even if you are just taking a quick walk around the neighborhood in the morning before work or at night after dinner, don’t plug in to anything, but the world around you. It’s easier to pull off during races when the crowds cheering you on are electric and fire you up to keep going, but during long training runs, gym workouts, or evening strolls, I encourage you to try it: leave the headphones at home and invite a friend instead, or just get inside your own head and have some quality reflection time.
6. Find a balance (and possibly seek help doing so). Whether you’re new to working out and looking for a proper training schedule to accomplish a running goal, like finishing a half marathon, or you’re a veteran runner looking to BQ, or qualify for the Boston Marathon, or hit some PR’s, making a plan to balance different kinds of workouts and knowing how far to push your limits can be overwhelming, to say the least. So where do you start? Read up on what you can, talk to others who have tackled your goal before and seek some formal advice from a running coach–it might be the exact invest you need for hitting your goals and striking a balancing act in life. For more detailed information regarding the benefits of running coaches, I highly recommend reading Boston blogger, Jana Ross’ post “5 Reasons Why You Need a Running Coach” –not only is Jana’s blog, Bananas for Balance, one of my favorites, but she is also now a running coach herself so she’s got all of the street cred necessary to lead you to the best decision for your current needs.
5. Be kind to your mind (aka learn something). On the note of taking advice from experts, you should consider the same options for your food, the thing that fuels you in your every day endeavors. Now, while I sure do hope you’ve been following my Sunday Snacks series on this blog, I am by no means a certified nutritionist or doctor and therefore I also recommend that you get to know the facts about the foods you are putting in your bodies. To help you along with that, there is a plethora of articles you can find on the internet, or you can pick up an old fashioned book and learn from two amazing nutrition experts, Tara Mardigan and Kate Weiler, in their book “Real Fit Kitchen: Fuel Your Body, Improve Your Energy, and Increase Strength with Every Meal.” Trust me, these recipes are made for active, healthy people like us, who are trying to live a balanced life…plus, the food is delicious and learning new things is fun!
4. Be kind to your body (aka treat yo’self). After a few rounds of being constantly disappointed in expensive massages once or twice a year, I realized that it wasn’t the service that necessarily disappointed me, but rather my high expectations that the massages to be more clinical to fix my aching body after a long period of hardcore training and general work and school stress built up. After a while I realized that I should probably find a cheaper solution, where I can get relief more often so that I am not expecting spas to move mountains (more like the mountains of knots that I carry on my shoulders and traps). While I do not make a lot of money by any means, I figured a practical, cost-effective monthly massage was an investment in my health and wellness that should not be passed up. I finally found a place to call my massage home: The Elements Massage Wellness Program. Benefits include: a month-to-month membership with a discounted rate for a monthly 1-hour massage, the ability to cancel easily with a 30-day notice, the massages carry-over to the next month (in case life gets busy and you can’t go), you get two upgrade certificates to switch out your normal 60 minute massage to 90 minutes, and you can share your wellness program benefits with a friend, in case you feel like treating someone else that month.
Just think of all of the stress relief and much deserved relaxation you could benefit from at a discounted rate. But seriously, I’ve been a part of their Wellness Program since January, 2016 and it’s been the greatest gift I’ve given myself this year–I wish I had done it sooner because I can absolutely see a difference in my every day comfort level and demeanor due to this form of self-wellness. Side note: if you live in Boston and would like to try out the Elements Massage location on Commonwealth Avenue, I highly recommend Joseph as a masseuse; he is a miracle worker on deep-rooted knots…trust me because I had about a million of them before meeting him. 🙂
3. Know when to rest. There’s a major difference between being lazy or putting something off and actually needing a day or two of rest. Nowadays our lives can drive us in so many directions on any given day and really stretch us thin. I regularly feel burnt out from work, grad school, social responsibilities, and training and, overtime, have even found myself becoming physically sick at times trying to balance it all. Most of the time, I honestly just needed a little rest: perhaps some extra sleep, or to not run that morning, or to just take a step back, put down my work, take some deep breaths, and walk away to call up my mom or dad to check in and feel some love. Listen to your body and trust yourself–sometimes you just need a short break in order to come back refreshed and ready to rock!
2. Have a mantra. This might sound silly to you, or even something yoga-centric, but using a word (or a phrase) with meaning during your training, a workout, a run, or even just something to kickstart your day can really be powerful. Repeating the mantra to yourself, when something goes wrong, when something gets hard, when you feel like giving up, or when you’re just in need of some self-love or support can really serve as a great connection to your goal. A mantra can be something very simple like “relax,” or “don’t give up,” or something more broad and deep like “love yourself” or “trust” and so forth. Your mantra can change–depending on the day, your workout, your mood, your goal, etc.
1. Give presence. This is my number one tip because simply put: being present is the greatest gift you can give someone…and yourself. It’s also, unfortunately, a lost art nowadays. Look up from your screens and at the life around you; look into the eyes of people you are with and who love you. If even just for one hour a day, give presence in your life (inspired by lululemon’s #givepresence campaign from 2014).
In the meantime, I encourage you to pick one of the wellness tips above and put it into practice for the next week. Over the next few days really stop to reflect on how it makes you feel. What are some things you are starting to notice that are different and/or better in your life? I’d love to hear from you so don’t forget to comment below and share your reflections!
Happy Hump Day! Remember…that means you’re halfway there!