Just 10 minutes/day of stretching.

Hi There,

So I like to make sure that the things that I am writing and preaching about in Meg in the Meantime are things that I am actually doing and putting into practice myself–this post is definitely such the case and something that I’ve struggled with over the years, but feel as though I have finally found the balance that I need to live well on the go in my busy life.

“What is it?” you may ask…well, if you’re a loyal reader then I’m sure you’re pretty familiar with my recent kick of incorporating active stretching into my run training routine (if not, then check out my old post “Stretch It Out“). Although active stretching only takes about 10-15 minutes before working out and has made me feel better and stronger during runs I know that there is more that I can do outside of my active training sessions; what I struggle with is finding the perfect, undisturbed time and the motivation within myself to make it a daily habit.

And so, on Monday night when I was doing one of my first official speed workouts with Becca for our B.A.A. 10k training regiment (more to come on that during my next Friday Feature post!), she was talking about how she wants/needs to start stretching more each day and how that would make her feel as she continues to add more running/biking/walking miles to her week. I mentioned a Men’s Health article that I had recently found on Twitter called “This Man Stretched 10 Minutes a Day For a Month This is What Happened,” which focuses on the notion of loose muscles being stronger muscles and highlights some solid deep stretches. Anyways, pretty soon Becca and I came up with our own recommendations for how we would incorporate at least 10 minutes a day of stretching into our daily days–and they range from the very obvious times to other, more creative opportunities, but both we hope give you (and us!) the ability to create a solid wellness habit from.

  • After you wake up. This is an easy and mindful way to start your day and slowly wake yourself up so that you are not stumbling to the shower or coffee pot! Simply begin by stretching your body out completely while in bed (hands over head, feet out straight or together with knees knocked outward for a deeper hip stretch) and then when you’re ready, roll out of bed and take it to the floor: perhaps do a few sun salutations to get your blood flowing or focus your stretching on a particular achy area that you’d like loosened up before you start your work day.
  • Before you go to bed. This is another easy and obvious time to stretch, but instead of doing stretches that will get your blood flowing, like sun salutations, perhaps try something more calm and controlled, like happy baby, rag doll, legs up the wall, body twist. You can always complete your before-bedtime routine by laying out for some quite meditation on an acupressure mat like the Spoonk. What’s a Spoonk? Read about it here in my old post “This Thing Called ‘Spoonking.’
  • Before/after dedicated workout time. I hope you’re doing this already, but if not make sure to get to your fitness class or the gym a little earlier than expected (or stay a few minutes later) and really dedicate some quality stretching time. If you’re running do some active stretching for 5-10 minutes beforehand (inch worms, downward dog, power walking, quick half pigeons, etc.) and leave time for a deeper, cool down stretch afterwards to target specific muscle groups–your body will thank you later!
  • During work. Most of us tend to sit all day at a desk and only get up to walk around for a coffee or bathroom break or to go another meeting where we will inevitably sit some more. So why not stretch while you’re sitting?! Open your hips with a figure four seated stretch, kick off your shoes and roll your feet with a tennis ball under the desk (as I highlighted in a previous post, “Wellness When You Can“), or check out any of these standing and sitting stretching suggestions, like shoulder/chest stretching, chair twists, and wrist stretching, as outlined by The Yoga Coach in the article “Yoga at Your Desk.”
  • Watching TV. This is your opportunity to get comfortable (or, uncomfortable) in some really deep poses, like half pigeon pose, wide-legged forward bend, runner’s lunge, or downward-facing dog. Think of the benefits of stretching and watching TV in this way: you can unwind from your day with something entertaining and engaging while also taking care of your health and wellness instead of just sitting there like a bum (I’m the queen of multitasking so this is one of my favorite times to stretch…I’m definitely known to break out my yoga mat and plop right down in the middle of the living room and stretch) and you’re able to time out your stretching session for a full episode if you’re really enjoying it or be cued to switch up which body parts you’re focusing on along with commercial breaks. Win, win!

These are just a handful of recommendations, but I’m curious to hear from you–what are some good times that you like to consistently stretch for 10-15 minutes? I would love to compile a larger list of suggestions to share with others. As always, feel free to comment below or send me a note on Twitter: @meggielukes, using #MegInTheMeantime to call it out to my attention.

In the meantime, I’m counting down the days (THREE!!) until the B.A.A. 10k–that is my next big race on the agenda and something that Becca and I have been training hard for for the last eight weeks: building up our strength and endurance again after a brief running hiatus and really stepping outside of our comfort zones and trying new things (RunYoga Series with Cara Gilman and occasional speed work on the track to challenge ourselves). In preparation for setting a PR goal time, I decided to look up my last 10k, which was the Lone Gull 10K that I ran last September in Gloucester, MA with a finishing time of 1:01:23–not so great, but more importantly I know I can do better and so I’m shooting for under 1 hour this go around. I’m hoping that all of this hard work and consistent training pays off and that I will blow this sub 1-hour 10k out the water, but more importantly, I’m curious to see if my new and happier outlook on running will have an effect on my race time, as well. We’ll see–I can’t wait to report back about it next week!

Be well and talk with you soon,
-Meg

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

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

Stretch It Out.

Hello!

So last week I gave you a sneak preview into my active weekend of participating in FitBit Local’s kickoff event in the South End on Saturday morning and then a free run clinic on Sunday morning. Needless to say, between trying my very first high intensity bootcamp class and actively working on new strength training exercises, I was hobbling around my apartment with that good, sore feeling by Sunday evening.

You know that feeling I’m talking about, right? The one that makes you feel positive that you got a solid workout in and maybe even worked some new muscles because getting up from a seated position is a lot of work and trying to reach for something in a cabinet becomes a chore…sometimes even just laying there hurts! But, as sore as you are, you can’t help but smile knowing that you allowed your body to work hard and you pushed it to the limit for that day. Rest was much deserved!

In between the struggle of my sore moments and the excitement of telling my running friends about these two free fitness events, I realized that the perfect thing to share with you today would be active warm-up and recovery suggestions-something I learned in the run clinic and definitely utilized this weekend…it was my saving grace and can be yours, too as you think about incorporating wellness activities, like proper stretching, into your daily routine.

But first, let me quickly recap what these two events were like…

Fitbit Local’s free event was held in the SOWA Power Station, an architecturally-stunning building with high cathedral ceilings in the South End-and, over the course of two hours, featured a bodyweight bootcamp class led by a prominent Boston fitness instructor, Chad Flahive, followed by a yoga flow by Cara Gilman. I’ll be honest, I originally only wanted to attend this event for the sake of the yoga portion-not only was it a class taught by my absolute favorite yoga instructor, but it was also a free yoga class (whereas many single class offerings in Boston range from $15-$25 per class)…the added bonus was that I got to try out a bootcamp class, too which I have never done before.

That being said, I was very curious about what a bootcamp class would be like so I went in with an open mind. It is what it sounded like: “bootcamp:” a high intensity cardio class, that gets your heart rate up, something to make you sweat quickly and continuously, and something (or someone) to push you to keep moving. Over the course of the class, I did a mixture of twisting jumping jacks, regular squats, pulsing squats, jump squats (after typing out all of those squat, I can now understand the soreness in my glutes…), burpees, mountain climbers crunches, and so forth. The end result? I think I would try a bootcamp class again just to give it another fair shot, but it also solidified that, for me, a large class, with loud music meant to pump you up, and an instructor yelling (in an inspiring way!) things like, “Keep moving!” “Almost there!” “Last set!” “Okay, really–this is the last set!” “You got this–this really is the last one!” doesn’t really motivate me…it more so irritates me. But that’s just me. I can absolutely see why other people need or want a class like that to motivate them intensely for 30-45 minutes; it had me looking at my watch to see when this part would be over. Still, I can’t really complain at all since clearly it worked me out well and I was feeling all kinds of new sore throughout my body.

And, yoga with Cara was simply amazing (to be expected)-so not much to report on that end. I was so grateful to have that time to slowly cool down my body and flow through some poses and begin the active stretching process, while calming my forever-on-the-go-mind. It also reminded me of how much I miss yoga incorporated into my week at least once or twice (is such a powerful practice especially when paired with running) so I bit the bullet and signed up for Cara’s 10-week Run + Yoga summer series…although I have to miss the first two classes due to grad school and work travel, I am beyond stoked to have this series to look forward to each week as I train for the B.A.A. 10K.

And so, I woke up pretty sore on Sunday morning, kind of regretting this decision to do back-to-back new fitness events, but I was also too excited to attend this run clinic to let anything cloud my mind.  A friend, fellow November Project-er, and PT/DPT/Cert. DN/Running Specialist, Dani Adler, led her first clinic: Learn The 3 E’s To Run Training: Easy, Effective, and Efficient where we learned how to apply the 3 E’s to our active warm-ups and strength training routines. We topped off the clinic with a gorgeous 3 mile run along the Mystic River, right across the street from her office in Medford, MA.

Here is a picture of our awesome group-a mix of triathletes, ultra-marathoners, marathoners, and just regular runners, like myself-outside of the Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness office before our run (we were even lucky enough to have two members of Team Hoyt join us as they trained for the upcoming Providence Marathon). All in all, I was inspired to be surrounded by such amazing athletes and greatness and got pumped to keep my run pace with them-it felt good to challenge myself like that.

RunClinic.jpg

Okay, and now the moment I’ve been so excited to share with you since I was hobbling around my apartment, wonderfully sore from all of these free fitness events: active warm-up and stretching. During the run clinic, Dani led us through a series of warm-up routines that were easy to follow, proved to be effective during our 3 mile run after as we all felt properly warmed up, and were super efficient: the whole routine took no more than 9-10 minutes, yet covered a broad spectrum of body parts and muscles that are integral to running. She explained the difference between active warm-ups (what I will share with you below) and static stretching (something like bending over and touching your toes or pulling one leg behind you to stretch out your hamstrings before a run)-she immediately turned me into a believer and made me never want to statically stretch before a workout ever again-that should be saved for post-run stretching. Why do I say this? Read below and find out.

How to Apply the 3 E’s to Your Warm-Up:

  1. Inch worms: 5 sets 
    The inch worm is a great way to actively stretch out your hamstrings and calves and fire up your core before a run. To follow me along, I’ve included a snapshot for you to see-the sequence goes: Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right, and repeat.
    – Start out with your feet close together and stretch down to to the floor in front of you (top left image).
    – Begin to walk your hands forward, alternating left and right, bending only at the hips and keeping your legs straight until you reach a push up position (top right image).
    – Now keep your hands in place and slowly take short steps forward with your feet, not bending your knees-this is where you will start to feel the amazing stretch in your hamstrings and calves (bottom left image).
    – Continue walking until your feet have reached your hands-or have come as far as your legs allow without bending your knees. You will notice you are back in the starting position-repeat 5 times for an active warm-up (bottom right image).
    InchWorm
  2. Downward Dog into “Walking the Dog:” 5-10 on each side.
    Downward Dog is an energizing yoga pose meant to stretch the shoulders (mine always crack), hamstrings, calves, feet, and hands, while strengthening your arms and legs.
    – To get into the Downward Dog position, you place yourself in an inverted “V” pose, with your palms and feet rooted in the ground below you and your sits bones (think: butt area), lifted up to the sky. Your body weight is evenly distributed,  your shoulders are squared to the ground, your neck is relaxed and your gaze is down/towards your feet.
    – To follow me along, I’ve included a snapshot for you below. Top Left and Top Right are the same pose (Downward Dog), just shown from a front view and side view.
    – Bottom Left and Bottom Right just show the “Walking the Dog” sequence, from the side view. From your Downward Dog position, alternatively lift and lower your lower your heels, still keeping your body weight evenly distributed-don’t let your body fall side to side as you pedal out your feet. Repeat for 5-10 times on each side.
    DownwardDog
  3. Downward Dog into Pigeon Pose: 30 seconds, each side.
    Pigeon pose is my absolute favorite stretch. This pose stretches out your thighs, groin areas, abs, chest, and shoulders and is one of the deepest stretches you can find yourself in, but boy does it feel great if you can bear it!
    – From the Downward Dog position, keep your hips squared towards the ground and bring one leg forward towards your arms to a 90 degree angle (or as close as you can get). That foot, which should stay flexed for a better stretch, will come to rest towards your groin area as your back leg is extended out with the knee and leg squared towards the floor and pressed down.
    – You can either keep your upper body upright, with the ribcage lift and hands perched by your front foot, or slowly lower yourself down over your front knee and walk and stretch your arms out forward as well for a deeper stretch-in this case you can keep your gaze down.
    – I’ve included another snapshot for you to follow me along Top and Bottom images are the same pose, just shown from a front and side view. *Note: I am only showing one side in these images, but this pose calls for both left and right sides to be stretched. After about 30 seconds on one side, shake out your leg and repeat the pose on the opposite side. 
    PigeonPose
  4. Adductor Rock: 15-20 on each side.
    This stretch I was pretty new to, but am so glad I tried it! The adductor rock really stretches out the groin area, while also loosening up any tightness in your inner thigh area (note: one side may feel more tight than the other).
    – Start on all fours and extend one leg to the side.
    – Gently rock back on your bent knee, keeping your back flat, and progressively rock back further and further each time, opening up the groin area.
    – I included a snapshot for you to follow along. The Top Left and Top Right images are what the sequence looks like from a front view, and Bottom Left and Bottom Right images is the same thing, but from a side view. *Note: I am only showing one side in these images, but this pose calls for both left and right sides to be stretched. After about 15-20 rocks on one side, shake out your legs and repeat the stretch on the opposite side. 
    AdductorRock
  5. 5 Minutes of “Fitness Walking” – I don’t have an image for this one, and I know it kind of sounds funny to do before a run (especially when most of us barely have time to fit in a run as it is), but getting your body ready for the motion of running by walking at 3.5 mph or less can really relieve the shock of your body going from 0 – (enter your mph here) in just seconds. Walking before allows your heart rate to pick up and for your breathing to quicken and get fired up for your set pace.

After the warm-up we got into applying the 3 E’s to strength training. If you’re interested in seeing some specific strength training videos that you can incorporate into your own routine, I recommend checking out Dani’s RunFitDoc YouTube channel –it’s a great resource to get yourself started and you can rest assured that the information is coming to you from a true professional! All of these routines are easy to follow, reasonable to scale, and really complement your training runs well. The most important thing to me, as someone who is typically stretched thin with many responsibilities, is efficiency: if you give me something that will be effective for my training and compact enough that I can easily fit in to a 10 minute segment every day (or every other day) then that is what I know will work and what I can reasonably stick with.  Personally, I look forward to doing these routines at least 2 times per week, to begin with, during my upcoming 10K training and reporting back on the positive impact.

Lastly, if you missed her run clinic last weekend and are now kicking yourself for it-fear not! You still have one more upcoming opportunity to learn about The 3 E’s To Run Training: Easy, Effective, and Efficient as a part of the first ever BPTW Strength Symposium on Saturday, May 21 at 10am in Medford, MA (I attached the Eventbrite info for your convenience). This event, as opposed to the run clinic I attended, covers a depth and breadth of topics, such as running, nutrition, core strength, injury/pain presentation, etc., but gives you access to a whole line up of health, wellness, and fitness experts and professionals, like Dani…what an opportunity! This is one local event for all you triathletes, marathoners, and fitness enthusiasts to not miss!

As for me, tonight I am off to the Run + Yoga for Runners event held at the Janji pop-up store on Newbury Street in Boston tonight! This event is run by two fellow November Project-ers: Brittany Flaherty and Jana Ross and coordinated by the MoveWith company. I’m so excited to work out in a new location (can’t believe I still haven’t been to the Janji store yet!) after I run through the streets of my favorite area in Boston: Back Bay! More to come on this experience when I write again on Friday.

In the meantime, and in the spirit of today’s post, I want to encourage you all to to incorporate some form of stretching into your daily routine: this could be 5-10 minutes of active stretching in the morning to wake you up or some form of static stretching to flow through and relieve stress before bed…it could even be your midday break from work after lunch! The benefits of stretching (reduced muscle tension, increased range of the joints, increased blood flow, and higher energy levels, just to name a few…) are too go pass up! Or, if you think I missed out on a different form of active stretching, then please comment below and share one of your favorite stretches–I always love to hear from you!

Wishing you wellness today and always,
-Meg

The Top 10 Wellness Tips You Never Knew You Needed.

Hi Everyone!

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 Balanceone 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!
-Meg