The Runners’ Club.

Last weekend, I ran slow. Like, painfully slow. Like, can’t put it in writing slow. And it was a pretty big bummer. I started running at the beginning of the summer as a break from spinning and lifting, and as I added mileage, I kinda fell in love with pounding the pavement. It never got easier, but I got better at pushing harder and being positive about the pain.

It all started with an accidental 5-mile run that jumped to 6, 7, 8 before I knew it. Four weeks into the summer, and into this whole new runner vibe, I was up to 9 miles and thinking about signing up for a half marathon. I obsessively looked for one in Philadelphia, then DC, then Baltimore, but kept stopping myself from actually registering.

Gearing up for Peru, I started to get nervous that a week away from my 20 miles a week regimen would ruin me. I told myself I would try to run on the trip, but with the elevation and general exhaustion from all the llama lovin’, I got home 20 miles short of what I was planning on doing abroad. Being the psycho I am, I jumped right back into my weekly routine immediately, giving myself no time to work back up to where it was. And as you’d guess, it didn’t go so hot. I ended up hurting my IT band and putting myself out of commission for a handful of weeks.

Those two weeks took a toll on my confidence. I felt like I’d gotten injured because I wasn’t strong enough, or fast enough, but really, I just wasn’t being smart enough. I debated ditching the effort and dropping back into my normal workout habits. But slowly, and surely, I started making back up to where I was. It’s all a mental game of perseverance and resilience. I’m slower. It’s harder. And I regret not listening to my body when I had the chance. 

This week, I originally planned to be running at least 10 miles at a time, maybe around 25 miles a week. And I can’t. And it’s okay. It’s all progress and the road isn’t always flat and linear. The podcasts will keep playing, the timer will keep ticking, and I’ll keep jogging along until I cross some finish-line, sometime, somewhere. 

Stuck in my head: Haircut // Ryan Beatty
Snap it: Navy Yard, Philadelphia

Women in the Work(out) Force…

Let’s start with ancient history, shall we? Since the dawn of time women have competed. First it was for food, then it was for men, now it’s for everything from a husband on reality TV to the last pair of booties at the Nordstroms Annual Sale. And I’m not going to lie, I love a little competition as much as the next person, but there’s something else that’s really motivating about working out with strong women- they’re strong.

I am like a little baby gym rat. Love spin. Love bootcamp. Love body pump. Love it all. And up until I went to school, I was always surrounded by fit women more than twice my age while I exercised. And I loved it. I found it so motivational to be surrounded by all these adults that had real, busy lives and could still spin like there’s no tomorrow. There’ve been times where I’ve looked over and seen women lifting three times my weight, so what do I do? Add it on. If she can do it, so can I.

Whenever I see a woman in amazing shape, maybe she’s lifting hundreds or has amazing pushup form, I honestly just want to stop her and be like “GOALS.” It’s that feeling of hope, that could be me someday it could be me under that bar, that really pushes me forward. So thank you, strong ass women. I owe my exercise ability to you. 

Beyond that, there’s a motivation network you can build just through being surrounded by women as ready to challenge themselves as you. At school, during a particularly hard track the entire room bursts into counting down until it’s over. Somehow, screaming as you squat creates a community. We highfive as we wipe our sweat. The fatigue brings us closer. I love that feeling of girl power. 

Now, I can admit some of my workouts are a little quirky and horrible (think 1.5 hours on stairclimber), but I love love love going to the gym with friends & being part of a group of girls that really values exercise. I mean last weekend we literally slept for like 4 hours and still hit the gym the next day. Ladies keeping each other strong. Live for that kind of friendship. 

In the spirit of working out, I want to share some exciting news! I am getting certified to become a spin instuctor. I’m only 1 week, a 2 hour ride, a 6 hour training session, a textbook, and an online exam away from screaming at riders to get their RPMs above 80. But on the serious side, I’m excited to be a motivational force in someone’s work out. I think that a good teacher can spark a good habit, and I really hope I get the opportunity to make people fall in love with spinning the way my teachers have.

To wrap this up because spin class and turkey are calling, I want to say Happy Thanksgiving, Women At The Gym. Keep lifting. Keep stairclimbing. I’m sure I’ll need a little extra of your inspiration after my apple pie food baby sets in.

Stuck in my Head: All Time Low // Jon Bellion
Snap it: College Park Color Run (Warning: the color does not come out. Your ears will be blue forever)

No hate to guys at the gym. I just know I’ll never really be able to get your kind of muscle definition. But mad respect, you all do some crazy shit sometimes. I mean one handed pushups with kettlebells on your back, sick, but I’m not really trynna do that ever. I think I would break in half. 

Also shoutout to my favorite workout buddy, Marnie D. Metzman. Too bad Mike’s not here to whip our turkey filled bodies into shape. 

For Me & For You

Go ahead eat that cookie. No, this is not some cruel joke. 

There’s so much stigma around indulging these days. And believe me I’m not really one to eat a whole cake and be guilt free, but I am one to eat a whole cake, enjoy it, and pay for it later in the gym. Not simply to burn the calories, but to return to this place of balance in my life.

I really really hate the presentation of women in the media right now. While we’ve come a way from the blatant sexism of the 50s, the advertising and fashion industry continue to only promote promote skinny things for skinny people. Enter big problem: I would say 99.9% of women are not 100 pounds and 100 feet tall. I don’t want to look like the women on the pages of magazines, I just want to be surrounded by reality. The fact that this annoys me rather than hurts me makes me smile. Good job Buzzfeed & Refinery29, guess I’m starting to live body-blissfully.

Body positivity is feeling secure in your skin and being pro-your body type, no matter what the fashion industry or anyone else has to say about it. When I picture my dream body it’s Gigi Hadid (pre-photoshop), but I’m smart enough to know that A) that’s not a realistic goal for me to set for myself and B) even if I got there, Gigi still has days she doesn’t want to look like herself either. So, like when my parents would say when I was little and had nightmares (usually about mudslides or other natural disasters- I wasn’t very creative), “just change your dream.” Yeah it’s that easy. My dreams are more about visible triceps and painless lunges (I’ve been informed the second will never happen but I’m going to give it a shot) than tight tummies and picture perfect skin.

It’s taken a while, but at this point in my life I feel like I’ve found a happy medium between diet & fitness & improvement & satisfaction. Will I eat a cookie if I want it? Yes. Will I enjoy it? Double yes. Will go to the gym later? Probably. Would I have gone to the gym later even if that cookie didn’t exist? Definitely.

Maintaining this mentality is like an endless Soul Cycle class, but there are some cheats that still build you up, but make things just a little easier. 

Find some level of love for exercise. I see it as the foundation of a healthy life- both in mental health and (obviously) physical health. I mean, let me tell you, there is nothing more life saving than exercise endorphins to get you through that essay. Don’t live for the after workout rush, but don’t let life pass by without it. For me, I found that exercise brought me closer to my family too. Sundays became spin with mom and weight lifting achievements are bow-down worthy. Not going to lie, I still run home from school and demo all the new workouts I’ve learned since I’d last seen my parents. Getting a “go Jordan” for working out is almost as good as getting a “go Jordan” for good grades… I said almost.

Enough about my family love affair & back to finding drive- make this is one thing that you completely control. You want to run a half marathon? That’s on you. No personal trainer or slice of pizza can keep you from doing that. You have so much potential if you just get the ball rolling. Make it a contest, how fast can you do it, can you do one more. I didn’t get to 1.5 hours on the stairclimber every other day by doing nothing. Every time it was “can I add 5 more minutes.” And every time it was “you are stronger because of this.”

Mistakes happen. You can accidentally miss a math homework online because you thought it was due Friday (oops) or you could mis-write down what weekend your best friend from Israel is coming to visit you (double oops). Eating too much is not a mistake- it’s a decision. And sometimes it’s a good decision. Your birthday? Go for it. First home cooked meal at home in a month (I’m talking winner winner steak dinner)? Hell yeah. Whatever it is, prioritize. Find your weakness and make it a reward, not because you have to, but because you want to. A wise friend once told me “never say no to pizza” & I really live by that, but I’ve edited it. “Never say no to really good pizza.” Dining hall pizza? Not really good. DC pizza? Always worth it, never an ounce of guilt that comes with it.

And lastly screw all of this and just be thankful for who you are. Even if you’re a Marnie, (I’m definitely a Hannah-Shoshana mix, but maybe some day I’ll find my inner Jessa… I’m referring to Girls if I totally lost you. Look it up.) just embrace it and work it. To me, exercise was one of the keys to happiness but for you it could be totally different. There’s no one path to body positivity so maybe it’s time to find your own.

Still not convinced? It’s all good. Take your time. I’ll be there with that cookie for you when you’re ready for it. 

Stuck in my head: Clearest Blue // Chvrches
Snap it: Pete’s, Chevy Chase

Question of the day: What do Olivia and a roof have in common?