Mind Games

Wow, what another gorgeous, sunny, and blue sky day we had here in Boston!

Now, perfect days like these-of course-don’t come without some stormy weather first and last night’s summer thunder and lightning storm sure was something else! I don’t know about you, but I made sure to soak it all in (without actually getting soaked…I did enough of that during my 3 miler on Sunday afternoon). Last night I sat out in my enclosed porch, lit some candles, and just listened to the world around me and the thoughts running around in my head; it was a great time for some reflective thinking/meditation.

Ryan-Gosling-meditate-meme

This special time out on the porch meant a lot to me, especially after such a draining few days at work and a few other personal situations that are currently brewing into (what could become) a perfect storm of stress. However, I had a major takeaway during this week’s RunYoga series with the ever-amazing Cara Gilman and it’s been the one positive thing that I’ve chosen to focus on instead of every (stressful) thing that possibly could be.

After our speed workout (my first time!) on a local track in The Fens, we got back to our base and slowed things down with some targeted, deep stretches to complement the speed workout and then Cara led us through a yoga nidra practice-one of the deepest forms of meditation. I’ve never done yoga nidra before, but after learning more about it and its benefits it wasn’t too hard to fall in love with both the idea and practice of it (I’ll make sure to give you a link to a great guided yoga nidra practice so you can try it yourself, too!).

Anyways, as always, Cara asked us to set an intention and then followed up with an inspirational message: The words we think becomes the world we see. That message really stuck with me; it’s all that I could think about during my yoga practice that night and I’ve carried it with me every day since: it’s my self check-in when I wake up in the morning and it’s my closing thought to reflect on the day (and the things that I can control and the things that I cannot) before bed and make my peace.

And so, last night on my porch, with the sky pouring buckets, I started to think those words in a more targeted area of my life: running. For me, running is a time to clear my mind, to reflect on my current state, to work through all the good and not-so-good moments of my week, and to wrestle with what my next steps should be moving forward.

I have been running unplugged from any kind of music playing device and have been using that extra concentration to zone in on my inner thoughts instead of zoning out to hardcore rap (and sometimes the random popular flavor of the week) like I used to. Instead, I’ve been listening to the world move around me and have been focusing on how grateful I am for each and every breath and step I take-it’s both a humbling and motivational experience.

But has every thought that has popped in my head been positive? Probably not. Have I cursed under my breath a few times. Most likely, yeah. How have I been speaking to myself? Have I been kind enough to myself and all that I put myself through-mentally and physically-during these intimate moments that I consider my sanctuary of the day?! And how will those kind and positive thoughts translate from my running moments into the other areas of my life?

This is why Cara’s message stuck with me-it’s giving me the opportunity to learn more about myself and helping me, in a small yet meaningful way, become a better, more thoughtful person each day. The words we think becomes the world we see. Really stop and think about that. What are the words and thoughts that sneak into your mind  throughout your day…when everything is going well, when nothing is really happening, and then when you feel completely down and out and all alone? How can you become more mindful of the powerful affect that you can have on your life (and others) through your thoughts and perceptions-turned reality?! It’s such a mental game and so important to get ahead of it before it can become destructive.

Running-Unspools

I shared some examples of what goes through my my mind when I’m running, so what about you? Or maybe for you it’s during another activity or something that you can’t seem to shake while walking into work or before bed…either way I’d love to hear from you and know what’s been working for you! What techniques or strong mental forces do you practice to keep the demons at bay? If you’re still struggling and are in need of some inspiration, shoot me a message…maybe we can talk it out together! Hearing from you always means so much to me so please feel free to leave a comment below, e-mail me at melucas7@gmail.com, or leave me a message on Twitter: @meggielukes.

In the meantime, let’s end this on a positive note: two things that I’m currently loving.

  • Two-a-days: I have been trying to switch up and amp up my training schedule this time around and have been testing out two-a-day workouts once a week, mainly on Wednesdays. In the mornings I’ll rise and shine with the sun and meet Becca at Harvard Stadium to run stairs with the rest of the November Project crew and in the evenings I’ll head up to the North Shore to spend some time with Ryan and run some evening miles (usually around 3 miles). I realized this morning that, probably the reason why I like this two-a-day concept so much is because I get to spend some quality time with two people who are special to me without compromising on my health and wellness.
  • Training: I have been absolutely loving consistent running, stretch, and strength training exercises throughout my weeks. I had a great early morning 5 miler around Boston with Becca last Friday and am looking forward to another long run this Friday morning, as well. This time we’ll take to the B.A.A. 10k route to get a better feel for the course before our race in two weeks. I also have a fantastic 5k race this Sunday, June 12th in Beverly, MA with Ryan called “Run for the Beach 5k,” in which proceeds benefit local beaches and marine life. The North Shore, and all of its rocky, coastal views, stole my heart a few years ago so I’m super excited to participate in this race…it’s just extra special that it will be my first official road race with Ryan! 🙂

That’s all for now-check back in on Friday for some more health and wellness inspiration.

Be well and stay positive,
-Meg

Get Movin’!

Hi There!

I got an e-mail from MoveWith yesterday that included a mini challenge: workout nine times with them in the month of June and they’ll reward you with one free class! Did someone say free? If it’s free, then it’s definitely for me…at least that’s a saying that’s resonated with me since my undergraduate student loans kicked back in last week.

And so, I figured this would be the perfect Feature Friday post to share with all of you-check it out:

MoveWith

So I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to resist a challenge (must be part of my natural-born competitive DNA) so I’m stoked to expand my usual workout regiment of mainly running and yoga to test out some new classes in the community and see what moves me, what clicks with my personality and style, to see who in this amazing city I meet; and what I can overcome when I take on new, personal (both physical and mental) challenges. The extra free class is just a bonus…but a great, financial one at that!Pe

In previous posts, like “Make Time To Do The Things You Love” and “Never Forget to Stop and Smell the Roses,” I’ve mentioned things that I appreciate about MoveWith and the community they’re building in Boston through their mission of #SocialSweat. But what I like best about MoveWith’s website is their easy search and filter function. Looking for a specific teacher? Check! Can only workout in mornings? You got it! Interested in a certain fitness style: barre, cardio, cycling, pilates, running, strength training, yoga? Just one click away! Nothing could be easier. Oh, wait…yes. There’s even an app for that so you can check out their classes and experiences while you’re on-the-go.

Personally, I’m interested in trying out some rowing and meditation classes. What about you? If you live in the Boston (or San Francisco) area, what classes have you tried and loved? Who are some of your favorite movers and shakers? Comment below or share your thoughts with me on Twitter: @meggielukes.

In the meantime, it’s Memorial Day Weekend! The weather is on the rise: 70’s and 80’s! Life is good. I hope you make the time to get outside and do something that you love-get back to the basics, something simple and enjoyable…whatever that means to you. Maybe instead of just texting someone from the comfort of your couch, call up that person that you care about and take a nice long stroll outside together and walk and talk for hours (don’t forget to take some water with you…always stay hydrated!) or heading out for a long, solo run to reset your mind and focus in on your summer goals and plans. Or, get adventurous: go for a hike and breathe in that fresh air, hop into a kayak and work your way up a river or across the lake…do something, get dirty, don’t stop moving.

This week, I took my own advice and got away from the city to do something I don’t do enough of with someone who I love: getaway, relax, and unplug. Ryan and I booked a tiny house via Getaway and landed ourselves in northern New Hampshire for a night of small spaces, simple living, fresh air, and no service…it was lovely and so necessary for a recharge/reset. We went for a stroll around the nearby lake, met some kind locals, cooked a great dinner, roasted some s’mores, Ryan built us a great fire that we sat by for hours in the Adirondack chairs, and ended our night by escaping the mosquitoes and playing cards and singing classic songs from the 90’s and early-2000’s for hours. It was perfect and I only wish it lasted for another day.

tinyhouse    fire

NatureScenes

 

Anyways, I’ve been so inspired by some great, local bloggers and their recipes lately so I’m really excited to keep experimenting with food and share my experiences with you-tune back in tomorrow for my weekly Sunday Snacks edition to see what I got for you!

Until then, get movin’!
-Meg

Make the time to do the things you love.

So I’m just going to jump right in tonight…

I once read something so straightforward and simple that it couldn’t help but stick inside my head: “You were not born to just pay bills and die. You are here to live your life joyfully and to love fully.”

I have always been the kind of person who needs to feel passionate about the things I do in all aspects of my life–it motivates me, it fulfills me, it genuinely makes me happy (and who doesn’t like to feel happy?!). I’m not sure that I would be able to wake up and repeat the actions of my week or dedicate the amount of soul, time, and energy  into things that I do, if I wasn’t passionate about them.

That being said, there are-of course-things we have to do in life, just because. Sometimes we just have to find a certain kind of work to make a living and survive through a rough patch in our life or pay down some debt (does any one else feel me on these never ending student loans?!). Sometimes we have to sacrifice our free time for the greater good or just put in our time for something bigger to open up later down the line. And when our 9-5 doesn’t align with our passions then we especially need to make some time in our day to do the things we love–to live joyfully and to love fully.

On that note, I recognized a big trend lately in some of my favorite local bloggers-they are writing about things they are loving lately, things that they are looking forward to. I love this idea; I am so inspired by it because I think it not only supports the notion of making time each day to do some thing (even just one thing) we love, but it also raises awareness of the simple things in life that can give us great joy and happiness-such a positive list to create. And so, before I share my own short list, I want to share their posts with you first and pay some respect and love to these two bloggers who inspired me to make my own: Jana’s post “Looking Forward & Loving” and Michelle’s post “Things I am Loving Lately Pt. 5.

Weren’t those both great and unique?! Well, without further ado here’s mine!

Things I’m Loving Lately:

Consistent running and yoga via Cara Gilman’s RunYoga Series. I thank my lucky stars every Monday (well, every Monday of this 10-week series) that I get to start my week off running a consistent 3-4 miles around this gorgeous city and push myself to focus on better breath control and form during my 10k training, as well as to have an hour of restorative yoga to follow that teaches me more about my body and how to incorporate better stretching habits into my daily life. The added benefit? Thanks to Cara being such a beacon of light and positivity, and for MoveWith for supporting this series with their concept of #SocialSweat, I have also been introduced to a wonderful new community of runners and yogis who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
*If you haven’t checked out any of MoveWith’s classes in Boston yet, I highly recommend it. They have a wide variety of class offerings…really something for everyone from barre to running to bootcamp, cycling, and so on! 

Different running routes and what they offer me. As I was running along the Charles River during Monday evening’s RunYoga class, I could not help but keep saying “Wow, what a view!” If I wasn’t already losing my breath from trying to pick up my pace, I’d give all of the credit to Boston for taking my breath away with its beauty. I mean, really…how fortunate am I to live in this gorgeous city and have the ability to explore it through my runs. Some of my favorite runs have been along the Charles with views of the city skyline that reflect in the shimmering river alongside it, and sailboats that effortlessly weave across the choppy waves that makes it feel like they’re racing you, and bridges every so often allowing us to weave ourselves and cross from side to side, magically allowing us to be right in the middle of it all for a few moments in time.

Alternatively, I have also been running in a more suburban environment 1-2x/week, depending on the week. My boyfriend, Ryan, just recently moved to Danvers in the North Shore so I have taken to adding some weekly runs in around his new neighborhood, even joining a local running community and racing on Wednesday nights courtesy of the Danvers 5K during my training period. I never really ran much in the suburbs growing up (at that point in my life I would’ve only been running short distances on some kind of track or on an indoor court-never on the streets throughout the neighborhood for pleasure), but I have to admit there’s a certain charm and peacefulness to it–something I can definitely get used to! My routes weave me through residential, tree-lined streets with rolling hills, friendly strangers cheering you on/offering a word or two of encouragement, kind people in cars actually stopping to let you cross the street and not mess up your stride, and beautiful, quintessential New England scenes like old cemeteries and various historic sites…I am never plugged in and instead choose to soak in the sights and sounds around me. If you claim to be only a city-runner, like I used to be, just try it once…you might surprise yourself with what you can fall in love with and open yourself up to.

Rolling my feet out with a tennis ball. As my training has kicked into full gear for the B.A.A. 10K, I find that I am-rightfully so-always moving and therefore always on my feet. And so I have found myself forming a close relationship with my tennis ball-I bring it with me to work almost every day to give myself a mini foot massage mid-day. All I do really is stand up and roll the the tennis ball under the length of my foot from heal to toe for a few minutes. Sometimes I even just keep it stable under the arch of my foot for a few minutes of pointed pressure. Really, it’s that simple but makes a world of difference! I won’t go into great detail about this wellness tip because you can find everything you need here in an old post of mine: “Wellness, when you can.

The resurgence of November Project in my life (aka surrounding myself with the kindest of human beings). Now that I am back from my international work travels, grad school is done, and I am on the mend from this horrible sickness that has worn me down, I can finally wake up and make it out to NP again! This not only means more consistency in my training (running stadiums and hills), but also just a more elevated level of training…when you surround yourself by the best, you push yourself to be better. Plus, all of the hugs and happiness. I’ve never been a morning person, yet these amazing humans make me smile (read: beam, ear-to-ear) as soon as I show up and get greeted by genuine hugs, love, and encouragement; they also make me glad to wake up at 6am to workout and sweat like a pig for an hour–and that results in a release in endorphins, which triggers happiness. It’s science, people. Again, I won’t preach too much about NP and instead just link to an old post of mine that I highlighted its amazingness and general information, in case you missed it the first time: “Reason #1,000,001 to just show up.

The warmer weather (and what that means for active living). Today was the first day it hit 80 degrees in Boston since last September…what?!!! That was such a big deal. This makes me so excited for things to come: summer racing, outdoor yoga, kayaking (and hopefully paddle boarding for the first time!), hiking, evening city and neighborhood strolls, etc. This also means that I am looking forward to trying out new products to fuel myself. So far on my list of new things to try, as recommended by local, Fitfluential people: Nuun (waiting on my order to arrive!!), Spindrift Seltzers (need to hit up Trader Joes to pick some up), and Nutty Life Milk (waiting until I can finally go to SOWA).

What about you? Tell me some of the things that you’re loving lately. Is there something that I should add to my list of active things to do now that the weather has changed for the warmer?!  I’m always down for suggestions and recommendations on new things to do, see, and try so feel free to comment below or write to me on Twitter: @meggielukes. Can’t wait to hear from you! 🙂

In the meantime, I’m off the grid for the next two days to New Hampshire to stay in a tiny house via Getaway–looking to restore some balance into my life by living the simple life and spending some quality time in the great outdoors with Ryan. More to come on that experience on Friday…can’t wait to share!

Love,
Meg

Time, is on my side.

Hi there!

First of all, I’d like to thank you all for bearing with me as I continue to recover and adjust back to every day life from my recent business trip to China–that 12-hour time difference is really messing with my system more than I expected it to. I came back to the US late last week, celebrated my second master’s graduation (M.Ed.’14 and M.S. in advertising ’16) over the weekend with loved ones over the weekend by way of commencement ceremonies, delicious steak-filled meals, and lots of corny college catalog photos like this one:

DSC_0230

And suddenly after all of the excitement and celebrations passed and life began to slow down, my body slowed down, as well and began to crash: I would put myself to bed at a normal hour, but just lay awake until the sun came out and soon thereafter I developed piercing headaches in the center of my forehead and the top of my head, complemented with a nasty, phlegmy cough that came forth out of left field. Not sure what’s going on with my body at this moment (will bring myself to the doctor for a check-in soon), but I just wanted to explain briefly and let you know that I appreciate your patience with my posts as my blog fell to the wayside for the last week or so.

I ended up missing posting about a healthy snack on Sunday, so I’ll just save that exciting post for this upcoming weekend and instead share with you my B.A.A. 10k training updates because exercising has been one of the few things that has made my body feel better this week.

On Monday, I finally was able to attend my first session of Cara Gilman’s RunYoga Series, courtesy of MoveWith; I unfortunately had to miss the first two sessions due to grad school and the business trip to China, so I was stoked to finally be able to go, despite not feeling so well. The way the workout goes: each session, a scalable running workout (hill repeats, speed workouts, group runs, etc.) is paired with a targeted, strength-based yoga sequence to challenge the individual members of this inspiring community over the course of the 10-week program. Each workout takes place on Monday evenings from 6-8pm in the wonderful Brookline/Boston neighborhood, rain or shine.

This week, we started our run from the Ruggles Baptist Church in the Audubon Circle neighborhood of Brookline and ran to Summit Ave, where we took on hill repeats on the one of the steepest hills in the Boston-area (the gradient incline goes from 7-17% fairly quickly). From there, it was up to us if we wanted to just do one full hill loop and head back to our starting point in Audubon Circle, or add some repeats before turning back. I turned to my usual training buddy/running solemate, Becca Smith, and we decided on adding an extra repeat of the smaller side of the hill, ultimately ending our run with a solid 4.20 miles completed. Afterwards, back in the church, we settled in for our yoga sequence, which would target the outer hips (hello, IT band!), calves and quads. Before we began though, Cara told us to focus in on one word, a mantra, that would guide us through our practice not only that night, but also throughout the week–something we are grateful for and something that would keep us present.

What would be my word?! That one was easy: “time.” Lately, I am so grateful for time-so much so that I find myself replaying The Rolling Stones’ song, “Time Is On My Side” in my head most days! After four years straight of working full-time and going to graduate school part-time (for two different master’s programs back-t0-back) and revolving my life and its priorities around the schedule that these two pieces set for me, I feel so unbelievably free and open to new opportunities and possibilities. And so, more than anything, I was grateful for those two hours on Monday night to reflect on the last four years, refresh my body, and reset my mind to start the first week of the rest of my life with balance and positivity. Despite my headache pounding into all sides of my head at that point, those two hours of active movement not only served as a training run and strength and conditioning session for my upcoming B.A.A. race at the end of June, but it also served me in a metaphorical sense: taking to life one step at a time-one foot in front of the other-possibly facing some obstacles (hills) in the way, and heading straight towards the next great thing, more in balance.

Speaking of things I am grateful for… I am BEYOND grateful for what my friend, fellow November Project-er, and PT/DPT/Cert. DN/Running Specialist, Dani Adler (aka RunFitDoc), taught me about active stretching during her run clinic. If you missed my post from last month, Stretch It Out, which broke down in easy-to-follow steps her suggested guidance of applying the 3 E’s: Easy, Effective, and Efficient to your run training warm-up, then I highly suggest giving it a read through before you continue with your run training! I have noticed a major difference in the way I feel (read: much stronger, more open, more loose, more warmed) before, during, and after all of my training runs and wish the same for all of you!

For example, tonight I practiced my active stretching routine and it put me in the right place, mentally and physically. I attended fun/casual 5k race that occurs every Wednesday night at 7pm outside Osborn Tavern (49 Maple Street) in Danvers, MA called Danvers 5K. My boyfriend recently moved to Danvers so I wanted to start doing something active in the area to get to know the surrounding neighborhood better and I couldn’t have fell more in love with this open running community the second I showed up. First of all, as their website states: this reoccurring weekly race is open to absolutely anyone: great for hardcore runners and those who are just starting out and looking for a solid weekly run/reason to run. Second of all, the course was absolutely beautiful and very enjoyable to run. I honestly don’t know much about the Danvers area yet, but there were some small, rolling hills, lots of cemeteries that were passed along the way–I kept myself unplugged and just soaked up the quintessential New England/North Shore scenery. It felt so nice to change up my usual route and run around a town for once-there’s definitely a charm to it, something I could easily get used to. Third of all, everyone was so friendly…especially to us newbies! I had such a nice and enjoyable time meeting everyone and even found myself trying to keep pace with two older guys during the entire race. To the main in the orange shirt, thanks for letting me tail you during the entire 3.1 miles–you rock!

I really could go on and on, but instead I’ll just encourage anyone who lives in the greater Boston and North Shore area to just show up and check it out yourself. Once you race, you have a bib number for life and are always welcomed back-how nice is that?! I ended my 5k with a time of 29:07, which is far from the lower end of the 25 minute 5k time I used to regularly race a couple of years ago, but instead of being disappointed in myself and wondering where I went wrong, I actually just really look forward to chipping away at that number bit by bit as I continue to focus in with more intensity and intention on my run training.

In the meantime, I’d like for you to read my favorite Boston running, health, and wellness blogger, Jana Ross’ post on “Why I Run Marathons.” People often ask why I run or why I choose to make the time to fit in training runs or workout series to my usual busy schedule and-to be honest-it’s a pretty hard question to answer; however, in a short and eloquent post Jana captures it all. I sure as heck am far from being as accomplished as she is as a runner and am nowhere close to running marathons (she just completed marathon #8!), but I definitely connect with what she expresses and think it’s overall just such a well-written piece. For example, two lines that, in particular, stuck out to me: “I love a challenge, I love the community, and I love the simplicity of placing one foot in front of the next.” and “It’s where I push myself most, discover how I handle adversity, and pick myself back up when I hit what feels like rock bottom.” Preach, Jana!!

Anyways, for one reason or another these lines stuck out to me and made me reflect on the reasons of why any of us do the things that we love, even when they sometimes tear us apart or take all that we have to give at the moment. As we continue to live our lives and push forward each day, tacking new obstacles and challenges with our dreams and goals in sight, I think it’s something pretty important to meditate on, if you haven’t ever…just a suggestion, of course! 🙂

Sending love and wellness to you all of you until the next time!
-Meg

Never forget to stop and smell the roses.

Hello There!

Boston is absolutely stunning today-it finally feels like spring has sprung! The sky is blue, the sun is shining, there’s not a cloud in sight, and all around the flowers and trees are blooming. I am definitely not usually a supporter of spring weather (I prefer fall/winter), but today you can’t help but be in love a little bit.

On that note, I wanted to share my experience with a recent outdoor/indoor fitness event I participated in because it really made me stop, look around, and realize how lucky I am to use the city of Boston as my training grounds and I want you all to be able to experience something similar.

So on Wednesday night, I attended the Run + Yoga for Runners class at Janji and definitely enjoyed it! I met up at 6pm at the Janji pop up store on the corner of Newbury and Dartmouth Street with my running partner and sole mate (see what I did there?!), Becca, and we joined in for the 2.5 mile run, led by Jana Ross: Bananas for Balance blogger, marathoner, run coach, and Janji Corps ambassador. The loop took us across Back Bay onto the Esplanade, down to the iconic Hatch Shell, followed by a sharp turn back up the Esplanade to the Mass Ave Bridge, across the busy streets, down Beacon Street, and back over to the Janji store. During the run, I got to see the Charles River sparkle as the sun began to set, beautiful yellow flowers stand tall along the greenway, and–for the first time all day–I let the rest of the world and all of my responsibilities melt away as I just tuned in to the sunshine on my face and the fresh, crisp air I got to inhale. That absolutely made my day and solidified that I need to be outside way more to enjoy the world around me through running.

Then, back at the store, we were led through an amazing yoga for runners flow by Brittany Flaherty: yoga instructor and Janji Corps ambassador. The flow was chill, filled with laughter, and really hit some key, targeted areas (hello, groin!) that needed some extra love and attention post-run. It was interesting flowing through a yoga series in the middle of a very public glass storefront where passer-byers felt the need to stop, watch, and even take pictures, but I assume that’s the whole point in trying to raise awareness of the Janji story and mission. All in all: it was a great experience, led by a wonderful duo! I highly recommend being on the lookout for future Run +Yoga for Runners series by Jana and Brittany-you can rest assured I’ll always keep you in-the-know here!

This particular class is considered part of the overall MoveWith community (as is Cara Gilman’s RunYoga Spring/Summer Series), which is a digital platform that let’s you browse community-based fitness classes and experiences with some of the best and most inspiring teachers in the local scene. I encourage you all to browse the upcoming MoveWith classes in Boston and maybe even sign up to try something knew that you’ve always wanted to try. One of the best parts about MoveWith, besides their notion of #socialsweat, is the prices of their classes and experiences. Did you know that the average rate for a drop in fitness class in Boston hovers around $20-$25?? That’s outrageous! The prices I’ve been seeing on the MoveWith site have been more like $10-$15, which is definitely more fair-priced for the experience you’ll be getting. So if the idea of community doesn’t move you, then perhaps the better prices will!

In the meantime, I’m going to share with you something my mom always tells me to do because it is legitimate wise advice: make time this weekend to feel the sun shine on your face, breathe in the fresh air, and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! Every now and then we all get weighed down by work responsibilities, social engagements, to-do lists, and a wide variety of other things that society tells us we should being doing…but that doesn’t mean we should neglect ourselves and our health and well-being. Really, it’s just that simple: a little awareness to the amazing world around you as it begins to bloom and take shape again can go along way when you’re feeling stuck or a little lost.

So, from my mom and me to you: don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! 🙂

Happy Friday,
-Meg