Wellness Tip: Unplug and Reset

Happy Wednesday, Friends!

As some of you may already know, my boyfriend and I recently got away from the city and booked a tiny house getaway experience in the Lake Sunapee-region of New Hampshire via the Harvard start-up Getaway. Whether you read the brief overview of our experience through one of my older blog posts “Get Movin’!” or if you saw us featured on the CBS This Morning piece “Startup ‘Getaway’ encourages short vacations in tiny houses” (hold on…can we stop to acknowledge that Ryan and I basically became national celebrities for 4 minutes last week?!), I hope you are able to grasp how necessary unplugging is/can be.

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Getaway supports and focuses in on everything I should be doing more of: recharging and reconnecting and living simply. There’s honestly not much we need to be happy. For me on that getaway, all I needed was Ryan, a space to wander around and explore, a roaring campfire, a deck of cards, a hearty meal complete with s’mores, and a place to rest my tired head at night. And, while the main purpose of our trip was not to necessarily partake in the social experiment of unplugging and rather to experience living life in a tiny house (a lifestyle that Ryan is quite obsessed with), I quickly fell in love with the concept of just leaving my phone be and doing whatever we pleased, whenever we pleased without any concept or care for time or other responsibilities. That way of life is not sustainable, nor realistic for me (this was a mini vacation, after all), but it was an extremely refreshing reset to my usual every day of being overly-connected to anything and everything at the tip of my fingers…and that really resonated with me.

And so, on this edition of Wednesday Wellness, I want to encourage you all to find a way to unplug, if even just for a designated hour each day (sleeping hours don’t count)! You don’t have to run away from your city life, throw away your computer, lock up your phone, or anything dramatic, but rather just set aside some time to mindfully step away from the screens in your life.

If you’re struggling to think of how to execute this unplugging hour, here’s what’s been working for me: running. Running with a phone is an inconvenience for me-I don’t like running with armbands, I don’t have a waistband that’s large enough to carry my iPhone 6S, and, frankly, I’d rather start or end my work day with some quiet reflection time or quality catch up time with someone that I care about. As a result, running has become something that I specifically look forward to because I know that it is my do-not-disturb time; my solo time; my catch up time; my time to quiet and calm all of the hundreds of thoughts and ideas that are constantly running around inside my head; my time to give gratitude and thanks for the amazing life I live in this wonderful city…and that is priceless and so necessary to do more of.

If you’re in need of some other ideas to kickstart your unplugging hour:

  • Pick up a good book and learn something new
  • Write a letter to someone that you love and let them know that you are thinking of them (it really is a lost art!)
  • Ask a friend over and have a face-to-face conversation…catch up on the important areas of your life
  • Go for a walk around the neighborhood or explore somewhere new
  • Stretch and/or meditate
  • Take on a new fitness challenge: abs, push-ups, strength training, cross training, etc.
  • Cook a healthy meal (check out my Sunday Snacks section for some inspiration!)

Honestly, I could go on and on with suggestions, but I’d rather hear some new great ideas from you! How do you love to spend your unplugging hours? What has worked (or not worked!) for you? As always, please comment below or share your thoughts with me on Twitter: @meggielukes.

In the meantime, live well, love well, be well-I look forward to chatting more on Friday,
-Meg

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.

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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.

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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

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:

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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

Don’t call it comeback…

Hi Everyone!

Thanks so much for bearing with me during the last week and staying patient until this comeback post. If you were not following my last few posts, here’s a quick catch up: I went to Shanghai, China for work for one week, which was just barely enough time to adjust to the 12-hour time difference before jet setting right back here to Boston. Here’s some photographic proof that I (a) did indeed go to Shanghai and (b) that I do own non-athletic/athleisure clothing. 🙂

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I really did have an amazing time in China–it was so different from anywhere else I’d ever been before, but I was able to do some really neat things: I explored the famous West Lake region in Hangzhou, hung out in some ancient Buddhist temples, went to the top of the Shanghai World Financial Center (8th tallest building in the world), and ate some DELICIOUS and funky local delicacies (if I could spell any of them, I would list each and every one…I promise!).

Almost everyone’s first reaction or question to my trip to China was “…but really, how difficult was it to get around when everyone speaks Chinese?!” or “…but aren’t there people, like, everywhere in China? How annoying was it to deal with all of the crowds everywhere you turn?!” and, lastly: “…I heard the bathrooms are disgusting–did you have to squat and go in one of those holes in the grounds??”

My mindset going into my trip focused on none of those things, though; instead, I was focused on how to see and do as much as possible to understand the culture and daily customs in such a short period of time. I was also pretty excited about unplugging from my usual, hyper-connected lifestyle.

You see…to me, traveling-even something as quick as a day trip-teaches you a lot, if you open yourself up to it. China taught me many things (yes, including how to gracefully squat in less-than-ideal conditions to go to the bathroom), but my biggest take away was patience. In a country with over 1.25 billion people, more specifically the city with over 14 million people, let’s just say there’s not much personal space, time to figure something out when you don’t speak the native language, or time to every really just be alone.

There were times, mainly in the airports of course, that I wished I could pause, drop all of my heavy baggage, stretch out on my yoga mat, clear my headspace, and then move along. I even longed for my Spoonk a few nights after being away from my own bed, and having hard time adjusting to the drastic time difference. There were other times that I wished that I could just lace up my sneakers and explore Shanghai while training for my upcoming race-severely poor air quality did not allow for me to do that one, though. And, as much as I enjoyed devouring all of the new foods, there were some mornings that I longed to make a protein smoothie to fuel me throughout the day. But those things are luxuries in my every day life that I couldn’t take with me on this trip–and that is more than okay.

Right before I travel, I like to re-read one of my favorite travel quotes by Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Trust me when I tell you that I could go on and on with inspirational travel quotes, but I know what you’re thinking…this is not a travel blog, where’s the usual health and wellness stuff? Don’t worry, I’m getting to it…

I believe that when you travel, you learn a lot about yourself…some would even say: “If you travel far enough, you meet yourself.” We should all take these opportunities in our lives to draw the lessons from the road. I took any and every moment I had, when I was finally alone each night, to form some kind of connection between the patience I was practicing throughout the day with others and myself and my overall health and fitness goals (currently: training for the B.A.A. 10k and aiming for a PR)–here are my top three takeaways that I wanted to share with you:

  1. Be patient with yourself. Way easier said than done, but great things do not happen overnight. You need to not only be in the right mindset to put forth the dedication and effort necessary to achieve your goals, but you also have to give yourself time to adjust and space to fail and grow. Whenever I’m feeling frustrated with myself-in any situation-I like to think of something my favorite yoga instructor always said during our practice: “Close your eyes-do not look around the room to others and where they are in their practice or how far along they are in their pose. It does not matter. Focus on you, in this moment, and how you feel. Now can you stay here, present, in this pose for another 10 seconds? If you can do that, what else can you do in life-outside of yoga-for 10 more seconds? How does that make you feel?” Hearing her tell us this always grounded me, brought clarity and perspective to my life, and gave me the drive to have patience with myself for just a little longer. I hope this helps you a bit, too!
  2. Be patient with your training/practice. It’s so easy to feel down and out or unhappy with your current state or progress, but if you stay positive and patience then I guarantee you’ll soon see the fruits of your labor and will be grateful for the times you had to struggle. And if you ever feel stuck, think of this: “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” -Henry Ford. Soon you’ll be flying, too! 🙂
  3. Be bold with your goals, but patient with the time it takes to chip away at them. Be proud of the little victories you’ve achieved along the way: hitting your walking 3x/week goal for a month straight, running a mile or two without stopping, finally feeling strong in a new yoga pose, holding a plank for longer than you ever did before, running .25 miles further than you ever thought your body could, hitting a 20-second race day PR, etc. It’s great to stay focused on the big end goal, but do not push aside everything you’ve done in the meantime to continue moving forward-those have been your stepping stones to success. Stop every once in a while and show gratitude towards your body and yourself for everything you’ve done.

That’s all I got for now. Tune back in on Sunday morning for the latest Sunday Snacks edition. Last time I shared with you a quinoa dessert-style snack, so what could it be this time?! I’ll give you a hint: I’m back to sharing another quick and super easy-to-prepare Greek Yogurt snack, and this one has endless combinations and possibilities so it’s also a great and fun (read: delicious) experiment. So why do I keep sharing recipes that incorporate Greek Yogurt? Because Greek Yogurt is an easy and healthy swap for baking, cooking, and non-cooking alike…and because a simple, healthier substation can make all the difference in your life! If you’d like more proof, I highly recommend checking out FitFluential’s Guide for Cooking with Greek Yogurt.

In the meantime, I’m off to graduate with my master’s degree in advertising today–I already woke up at 7am from all of the excitement!! All of the time, energy, and hard work that I poured into this part of my life for the last four years (four years in total because I actually completed two master degree programs back-to-back) is coming to an end. It’s pretty bittersweet as I am closing the book on this thing that was a HUGE part of my every day life for so long-something that I was so passionate about and that, I felt, really defined me. I do feel lucky though, because to share with me in this special day are some special people: my mom and dad. They drove all the way up from New Jersey to sit through this third Boston University graduation of mine…bless them, their amazing parental love and support, and their patience to sit through all of these ceremonies! But anyways, more to come on life post-grad (I already read 3.25 books!) and my training schedule…for now, it’s time to celebrate!

Before I head off though, I’m curious; what about you–is there a big shift going on in an area of your life right now? How are you dealing with it and what health and wellness practices are you utilizing to work through it? Comment below or tweet at me: @meggielukes-don’t forget to use the hashtag #MegInTheMeantime for good measure!

Talk soon!
-Meg

Do Your Om thing!

Hi Everyone!

So I was originally going to write to you today about my training schedule and plan for the upcoming B.A.A. 10k on June 26th; however, I ended up having a much needed life conversation with my best friend from home, Anya, last night and I feel like some of those points are probably more relevant and important to share with you at this time…

First of all, I have to express that I hope that everyone has an Anya in their life–not a literal person named Anya, but someone just like her. Anya is one of those people who is so kind, wise, and non-judgmental; she automatically calms your life down with the sound of her voice; and, most impressively, she and I have always had such a rare connection in completely understanding each other.  Even though she and I are arguably very different people and even if our lives aren’t synced up or at the same place in our respective trajectories, there is some kind of unspoken balance and understanding within us, so much so, that we’ve always considered ourselves to be “twin souls,” lucky enough to find each other so early in our lives! Anya has been my best friend since first grade, so that means we’re going on 22 years of friendship-the past 10 of which have been spent a majority apart from each other due to college and post-college life (I, up in Massachusetts and she, down in New Jersey)…so that, in itself, is amazing. Somewhere in that brief rambling of an overview, I hope you can gain a little insight to the type of person that Anya is and why I would hope everyone is just as lucky to have someone similar of significance in their life. Anyways, I digress…

I will not go into the great details of what Anya and I spoke about on the phone for countless hours last night, but I will share an inspirational concept that was sparked from our conversation with you in hopes that we can both incorporate something new into our lives to better balance ourselves and practice wellness.

We began our phone call talking about what we were just doing: I had just walked into my apartment after running around Boston, crossing off my to-do list of last minute errands before my business trip to China, feeling completely exhausted from earlier in the day because of a 4am wake up to travel down to NYC to pick up my visa and passport from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York only to travel back up to Boston to attend a work reception in the afternoon. Anya, on the other hand, had just stepped out of a 40-minute meditation state in her apartment, where she was lying down on an acupressure mat, with a warmed up, spa-like mask to cover her eyes, and soft music and sounds playing in the background that she downloaded off a yoga YouTube channel. I told you we were very different!

Right away I thought to myself: Damn, I wish I could be more like her! Only to quickly correct myself and say: I am inspired by Anya and will put in the effort and time to practice similar wellness habits. There is no reason why I can’t be more like her in that way, I just have to choose to make time for myself and my wellness throughout the day.

I don’t know about you, but I am notorious for always keeping myself busy, for better or for worse: I always stay late at work and take work home with me (the first thing I check in the morning when I wake up is my e-mail so I know what I am getting myself into for the day); for the last four years straight (including summers) I have been in grad school part-time for two different master’s degrees; and I am always taking on some new challenge, like a half marathon or 30-days of yoga, etc. I choose and love these additions in my life, but I also never choose to take a break or check-in to make sure I’m not going to burn myself out. This is where something like meditation can come into handy!

I just completed my very last grad class on Monday night and, while I’m so sad that I will not be in a physical classroom learning anymore (at least for now!), I am energized at the thought of a formal break to take some time for myself; to be able to come home after work and do what I please: read a book for pleasure, take a walk, go to more yoga classes, meet up with friends, or even meditate! Anya is just as busy and stressed as I am in her life, but she does a way better job of making time to practice wellness and set aside time to check-in, reconnect, and refresh. I think just mentally knowing that my schedule will clear up a bit will do a lot for me in terms of fitting in time for meditation, self-reflection, and care.

Now I know some of you may scoff at the idea of meditation, yoga, or the concept of “finding yourself,” or “doing something that’s good for your soul.” Some of you may even feel like the donut depicted below in this sketch:

meditation

You don’t have to attend a yoga class to meditate. I personally think the best part of meditation is the fact that there are a million different ways, spaces, and times to do it–it’s very adaptable to any schedule! If you have no idea where to start, start with concentrated, deep breathing-you’ll be surprised at how much taking sloooooow, deep breaths will relax you and clear your mind. If you master that and want to move on, consider setting an intention or a mantra for the day and honing in on how you might achieve that.

If you do feel the need to have some form of private, guided meditation there are plenty of free ones to stream on YouTube, but you can also buy some really wonderful apps that come fully loaded with meditation essentials (some cost money, others are free). One company that I feel does the meditation things really well is Meditation OasisI personally have downloaded their “Relax & Rest,” “Simply Being,” “iSleep Easy,” and “Breathe” apps to practice mindfulness throughout the day, but you can also purchase their Meditation Oasis bundle (which includes 8 targeted apps) or listen to their podcast that is highlighted on the website I’ve linked above. Again, while there are many this is the one that I have been most happy with because I like the way they blend voice commands and soothing background music and because there is a wide variety of different timed meditations to choose from: as short as 2-3 minutes if you’re trying to squeeze in a quick break and all the way up to 30-45 minutes.

Here are some ideas to kickstart your meditation practice:

  • You can lay in bed for a few extra minutes when you wake up and set your intention for the day.
  • If you walk to work or commute by bus or train you can plug in to a guided meditation flow, close your eyes and follow a meditation sequence (make sure to not miss your stop!).
  • You can close the door to your office and take some time mid-day to refresh.
  • You can wait until you come home from work to disconnect with everything that happened throughout the day.
  • And, my personal favorite, take some time to wind down before bed to reflect on your day, let go of anything that doesn’t serve you, and prepare for the next!

Okay, well I’m off to China in the early morning for a week-long work trip. As I mentioned, I hope to still be able to blog regularly on my usual schedule (Sunday, Wednesday, Friday), but please bear with me, the jet lag, and the 12-hour time difference in the meantime. You can trust that I will definitely be utilizing these meditation tools throughout my trip-especially during the 16 hour flight-and will share with you one of my favorite meditation accessories on Friday.

Until then, be well and send me some positive and energizing vibes during your meditation experiment! 🙂

Love,
Meg