Boost your Immune System [Recipe]

Fruits and Vegetables Are an Essential Part of an Athlete's Diet!
Fruits and Vegetables Are an Essential Part of an Athlete's Diet!
Fruits and Vegetables Are an Essential Part of an Athlete’s Diet!

Hey all! It’s no surprise that what you eat can affect your performance and health. As an example, I was feeling unwell Sunday. It’s rare, but I was so tired and weak by the end of the day that I came home and went to bed at literally 7:20 PM. I woke up after about two hours, feeling hot and my throat was very raw.

As many of you know, I believe in whole food nutrition. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This is also evidenced through the methods I must use to help take care of my eighty-year old mother – who refuses to go to a doctor.

So as I got up to make my “remedy”. You can make this as a salad or, if you don’t think you can eat, as a blended smoothie. A Nutribullet or similar blender also has the advantage of  emulsifying the food, as raw vegetables can be harder to digest. My mother has said that if the illness wouldn’t kill her, that drink would – ha, but it works.

I also used this when I fell ill before Pike’s Peak Marathon and I had no issues during the race.

The ingredients are 2 oranges, 2 carrots, 1/2 a small onion, 1 inch fresh ginger root and 2 cloves garlic. The ingredients boost the immune system and are antibacterial in the body. I mixed this with fresh chopped romaine and spinach and made a vinaigrette dressing of raw honey (antibacterial and antiviral), Dijon mustard (anti-inflammatory), and apple cider vinaigrette (antiviral and anti-inflammatory).

The benefits to athletes of whole food eating are numerous!! If you want more they touch on this in one of my favorite podcasts, “The Science of Ultra”, episode 48, “Recovery and the Immune System”, with Oliver Neubauer, PhD.

The salad is not plated – I was feeling so unwell that I just used the mixing bowl and went back to bed!! The next day I can report that I was mostly better with a 17-mile long run…. 😉

If you want more information on how living a holistic, healthy lifestyle can benefit you as an athlete, feel free to contact me! As well, check out your options for private coaching and coached group training! Have a great day!

3 Easy Steps To Choosing The Right Coach!

Choose Wisdom

Hi all! Exclusive Run Coaching and Coach-Directed Training Groups may be new a concept to you. Here is what to look for to make an informed decision about where to invest your time!

1. Nationally Recognized Credentials

Nationally Recognized Certifications in your area of interest are more than just pieces of paper. This gives you evidence that this person is trained to keep your health in good hands. They have gone above and beyond just putting a sign outside their door. With this training, you know you get the best service and direction to reach your personal goals, as well as accurate answers to your questions.

Health Certifications take time, education and expense to obtain. A person must have prerequisites before even beginning the process. They require extensive study in such areas as biomechanics, physiology, sports psychology and nutritional guidance – including what is safe to recommend within their scope of practice. They are knowledgeable about physical training responses. With this you get a professional who knows how to develop and modify programs that keep you on target with your goals while simultaneously avoiding overtraining/burnout and injury.

Therefore, ask:

  • Can you depend on the fact that they’ve been trained to help you progress at a rate that both keeps you healthy as well as on target with your goals?
  • If something starts to hurt, are they trained to have the knowledge of what to recommend, potential exercises to strengthen muscular imbalances, or how to modify your program to keep you healthy?
  • Are they affiliated with a network of other professionals to help keep you on the road?

Additionally, Certifications in areas such as Wellness Coaching train the practitioner in areas such as overall health management and planning, motivational capacities, positive psychology, goal setting and behavior change. This benefits you by helping you develop strategies for success, and keeps you going even when life inevitably gets in the way. It enables a holistic, healthy view of you as an athlete that leads to greater progress in sport and life.

As an example, if you went to a gym and hired a personal trainer, would you want to have just anyone walk over and design your exercise program? Or would you demand a certified, experienced professional who specializes in your area of interest for your time and money? Training is a complex process involving the proper development of all system of the body working together as a whole. Taking a generic plan and applying it without understanding the fundamentals could lead to training errors and even be a dangerous process without the correct understanding.

If you are considering a group training program:

  • Is the director professionally trained and certified to facilitate this multi-person activity to assure the safety of all involved?
  • Are they aware of how to handle various health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease that may come up in a group setting involving you or others?
  • What about certifications such as CPR and First Aid if a you or another participant is hurt or has an incident in the session?

2. Experience:

Working with an experienced professional adds to learned principles and lends to the development of expert skills. You then get someone adept at handling your specific, personalized needs.

  • Does this person have proven experience in your area of interest with a record of success? If so, how much?
  • Are they a demonstrated expert in their field?
  • Do they have testimonials by satisfied clients explaining their work?
  • Is this person able to inspire and motivate you to bring out your best?
  • What is their coaching philosophy – and does that agree with what you personally believe?

3. Dedication:

You want someone as dedicated, focused and passionate about your targets and interests as you are!

  • How much time does your coach dedicate to their craft? Is this a full-time profession for them, or just some add-on gig that they do on the side?
  • Do they devote themselves to coaching your specific area of interest, or do they spread themselves across multiple sports, interests and areas?
  • Do they commit the time required to consistently stay tied in and updated in the science of your field?
  • Do they offer services that take you beyond just running to maximize your entire potential for overall performance and health?
  • What do they provide to help you continue and progress after your current goal or program is completed?

Sure, there may programs out there that cost less. However, I’ve never found that a business can have the best quality, service, and the lowest price. What is important to you?

Make the right choice – ask yourself if you really want to take shortcuts with your time, results and most importantly: YOUR HEALTH.

And, let’s face it, when someone chooses to make an investment in something, they’re more committed.  They do their planned workouts more consistently and hold themselves accountable. And they help build an incredible community of like-minded people ready to motivate and offer support for one another. All of this reflects back to get RESULTS. Choose to make that investment in YOURSELF.

More questions? Contact me, and I will be happy to assist you! Happy Training!

-Coach Amie

Get Inspired: My Before / After!

You can use running and health to become or come back to that person you KNOW you know you are as well!

Amie Dworecki Before/After

Some see the World Records, race wins etc and think that I couldn’t possibly get where they are coming from. Well, believe it or not, I can! I’ve mentioned before that I had to overcome many issues to get to where I am in health, but had just posted current photos. Although I believe in moving TOWARD your goals, I’m posting a before/after because many people find it inspiring. The “after” picture was taken at 2 AM before I ran the Black Canyon 100K in February. In the pic, I had just finished packing my drop boxes (haha) and in full disclosure am 6-7 lbs bloated from carb loading for the race!!

As for the “before” picture… I spent a number of years dealing with poor health. Prior to that, I had been very fit, even setting the world records for multi-continent marathon running. However, I started to feel like “I can’t lose the last several pounds no matter what I try”, and had other minor symptoms bothering me. So I began to go to many doctors to try to find a cure and I sincerely now believe that, “The mind leads, and the body follows,” as my Mom has always said. If you believe something is wrong with you, your body will follow and you will find others who will confirm your self-diagnosis. Then you focus more on the problem and often, as you get what you focus on, you just get more of the problem as a result.

Therefore, it got to the point that I had been what later turned out to be misdiagnosed with several ailments, some of which doctors said I would need to be on medications for the rest of my life. This included adrenal issues, thyroid problems, extreme allergies/asthma, food reactions, body aches and depression. I did run and exercise still, but I was on such high dosages of medications that my thyroid gland (which in large part controls your metabolism) was fully shut down and my heart rate would get so high that it was dangerous to run, so I had to stop. This was frustrating to me because for years I’d always loved being so active.

The left photo is not even of me at my heaviest. I was so tired of my symptoms still not being under control or getting worse that I just decided to STOP going from doctor to doctor to find a solution to what I thought was ‘wrong’ with me and to take my health into my own hands. So instead I started focusing on what could be “right”!! Despite it all, I maintained the belief that I could get off all medications and be well.

I decided to make changes in my lifestyle, and got off the medications. However, due to the sudden shift off medications, with my thyroid basically shut down, I then rapidly gained at least another twenty pounds (or so? I stopped weighing as I didn’t want to know). I found it even more depressing that jeans that had recently fit now didn’t, as I had already felt self-conscious about myself as well.

I remember around this time I had started a new job and we had a work event on a small boat. Everyone else was eating cake, pizza etc and I had a small plate with just some celery and carrots. Some guy came up and loudly asked me, “Aren’t you the one that ran the marathons on all continents?” Before I could answer he added, in front of everyone, “Boy, you must eat a WHOLE LOT, because marathon runners are normally THIN.” I felt so embarrassed I wanted to crawl into a hole. But on the small boat there was nowhere to go while everyone laughed hard at his joke. After I got off the boat I just sat in my car and cried.

Regardless I focused on remodeling my type-A lifestyle, getting better rest, and regularly mentally targeting my image of myself being healthy again. I also learned more about healthy eating with portion control (meaning not only not too much – but also not too little) alongside exercise. Even though I gained the weight mostly due to medications, I had to lose it just like anyone else. And it was very slow due to my thyroid gland having to come back to par on it’s own.

Due to the high heart rate issues that had not yet gone away, I had to start with walking. I started just going down to the end of the block and back, but regardless I made a schedule and added a little bit each day. My feet, ankles and joints would hurt as my frame was not used to the weight gain. I eventually started alternating running and walking a block each at a time. Then running, very slowly. I can remember how happy I was the day that I could run my first mile all over again.

I joined a running club at that point and so yes, believe it or not I know how it feels to always be the last one finishing a designated route after everyone else has finished, or even left and gone home. Some would even joke about it but I just kept going. I started running 5K races again after that, and though I finished in the lower half I was happy that I was able to do it at all.

Making lifestyle changes, focusing on positive thinking and the vision of the life I wanted, consistent healthy eating and exercise were the keys to me recovering my health. I lost 50+ pounds. I am now even fitter and healthier than I was before I became sick, and have accomplished more than I had ever thought possible. I never thought I would qualify for the Boston Marathon, for example, and now I have a qualifying time with every marathon I run, even just for training.

And I am off all medications!!! It can at times still be a rocky road to maintain total health as there is no such thing as perfection. However, I just keep on “Running with Life”. I still work on work-life balance and stress. However rather than always expecting a flawless life, Wellness is more about discovering your own path to health, staying on it for the long-term as well as finding strategies to get back to it when things come up. This is what sets you up for long term success.

I became a Wellness Coach because I can help people find their own individual journeys to their Visions of Wellness. I am a Running Coach because it is my longtime passion and joy and I’d like more people to experience that as well.

YOU can have the life YOU want. Visualize it and make it happen!

If you want more inspiration check out my friend Charles Ray Bell’s story of how he went from 300 lbs to a 3 hour marathon. He was one of the people who originally inspired me to start running over 100 miles a week many years ago.

Or check out fellow Indiana resident, and ultra runner Traci Falbo’s story of how she lost 80 lbs and currently holds the American Record and World Indoor Track Record in the 48 Hour event (242.093 miles).

Check out what Private Coaching can do for you or our Training Groups to start or get back into the healthy lifestyle you know you can achieve! And you can always contact me for more information on the services I can provide for you. And “Like” the Running With Life Coaching page for motivation, running and wellness articles and tips! Have a great day!!

Keep Running With Life – Amie

 

“Have to” versus, “Get to,” or, The Power of Gratitude in Your Life!

Adding gratitude into your life can be powerful.
Adding gratitude into your life can be powerful.
Adding gratitude into your life can be powerful.

Today I had a session with a client who experienced a very powerful shift. During a family weekend away in a cabin, she stepped into a messy kitchen. Suddenly, she realized that instead of automatically thinking, “Oh, I HAVE TO clean this all up…” she reframed the thought as, “I get to do this for/with my family so that we can spend better time together.”

Once she switched the thought in her mind, she also noticed that the attitude spread to the other members of the family. Everyone worked together to get things done, and it kicked off a wonderful experience for the rest of the weekend.

How many times do we rush through our day thinking that “I have to do this,” when, if we take a step back, we can instead be grateful for the opportunities that we are able to do or have? Life, after all, tends to be made up of the choices we’ve selected for ourselves. There’s actually a saying: “If you don’t like your life, make better choices.”

Gratitude has a host of benefits across a wide spectrum, including a stronger immune system, being less bothered by aches and pains, lower blood pressure, better sleep, feeling more alert and alive, experiencing more joy, optimism and happiness, and being more forgiving and outgoing. These benefits can be obtained with just such a shift in thinking.

Sometimes if we’re mindful of the moment and think about what is going on, it can cause us to realize that we ARE too busy or stressed to enjoy what is going on. If the list of things for your day is a mile long, even enjoyable activities can start feeling like a “have to”, instead of a “want to,” or even, “get to”.

Here are some simple ways to cultivate gratitude in your life:

  • Savor moments of happiness: When something good happens, really enjoy the moment and make it last. Reflecting upon these moments later has also shown to have health benefits.
  • Express it: Simply saying, “Thank you”, benefits both the person who says it and the receiver of the thought. Make it a point for a day to state gratitude for things both small and large. Note how it makes you feel.
  • Keep a gratitude journal: Making notes of what we’re thankful for, either daily or once a week, can be an invigorating experience. This can also help guard against taking things for granted.
  • Meditate on gratitude: I’ve written about the benefits of meditation on a focused mind. There are many ways to meditate, and this includes concentrating on the things for which we are thankful.

Later, I realized I had mentioned during a chat with my sister that, “I have to walk the dog now.” Noting that this was something I normally enjoy, I reflected on my conversation with my client. I suddenly realized I had been preoccupied for most of the day.

So, I took a deep breath, looked out into the sunshine, and reframed the thought. “I get to walk with my dog on a peaceful evening and enjoy the scenery,” I mused. Due to that simple shift, instead of feeling bothered… I felt happy, smiled, and appreciated the time to head out the door with my pal.

Contact [email protected] if you’d like to open up your life to gratitude, and more!

Until then – Keep Running with Life! -Coach Amie

Have You “Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” for RUNNING?? Here’s How to Get It Back!!

Have you lost that Loving Feeling for Running?


I’m dedicating this post to someone who recently contacted me about this – however I frequently speak to people who have this issue. They rarely run anymore because what they once loved now feels like a chore. Perhaps you have the same feeling but it’s toward another type of exercise, a job… or even a relationship! Here are a five questions to ask yourself to rekindle your fire!

    1. What did I originally love about it?

      Think back to when you really loved to run. What got you to lace up your shoes and get out there? Perhaps it was the feeling of being outdoors in nature, but recently you’ve been rushed and have just been putting in treadmill miles. Or maybe it was the endorphins (feel-good chemicals) that rushed through your body and left you feeling exhilarated, but recently you’ve been stressed and so just push through your run to “get it over with”. Maybe it was the freedom, however now when you run, instead of letting things go, you just stare at your sports watch with demanding expectation each time.Picture yourself back when you used to run and loved it. What elements were different that you can recapture now?

    2. What caused me to stop enjoying it?

      Feelings of irritation or avoidance can happen if we push ourselves hard for a goal, sacrifice, and end up with results that are less than stellar in our eyes. Perhaps it was a race goal that didn’t pan out as expected, or even a bad string of workouts. This can leave us feeling dejected and not wanting to participate, or sometimes even think about, that activity anymore.If this is the case, can you reframe the result from something negative into a positive? If you didn’t get the race time you wanted, what other good things came out of the training you had put in? Maybe you lost a few pounds or got into great shape. Maybe you worked harder than you ever thought you could. What did you learn about yourself in the process?

      And if it was a bad race – sometimes we overgeneralize the situation. Just because one race at one time wasn’t ideal, doesn’t mean that all future races will be the same. You’ve gone through it – you’re smarter now. You’ve learned what works for you – and what doesn’t. Now you can focus on improving your training, schedule and strategies for next time.If you’re going through a bad set of workouts, maybe you can look at something else that has been affecting you, such as poor sleep or compromised nutrition, that you can correct for the future. Again, learning from it, rather than staying down for the count.Pulling out the positives can help motivate you to move forward toward new goals and new heights, rather than dwelling on perceived disappointments.
How to rekindle your LOVE OF RUNNING!!
How to rekindle your LOVE OF RUNNING!!

 

    1. Am I overwhelming myself with expectations?

      Sometimes we set our goals so high that it feels overwhelming. We think it will take hours and hours of time, we must hit certain paces all the time, and if we don’t do that 100% then we’ve failed. It becomes demotivating to even think about.I’m all for setting high goals, however it’s best to be realistic and set them to a level that you can achieve or is just above what you think you can achieve. Maybe your first goal is to just go for a run without any focus on time or distance, but for the sole purpose of enjoying it. With small wins, you can have the confidence to move on to bigger things.

    2. Is my life in balance?


      Many times burnout can occur when we do one activity to the exclusion of other things we enjoy. Even things we love to do need balance. If running feels like a burden, it’s OK to stop for a while. Even elite athletes are known to take up to a month off in their off-season or after a tough race. Studies have shown that up to ten days off of workouts affect fitness very little.There are also health and mental benefits to cross-training or trying another type of workout. You may even find one you enjoy enough to incorporate from time to time on a regular basis.And, even workouts need balance. For all the hard workouts you do, remember to incorporate recovery into the mix. This helps become stronger both physically AND mentally.Also, what else is going on in your life? Are you extremely burdened at work or is a relationship or other issue taking it’s toll? Are you allowing someone else’s negative opinions toward your running influence the way you feel? Sometimes other issues can lead to an overall loss of motivation, so work on balancing things in your life as a whole.

    3. Have I been doing the same ol’ same ol’ a bit too long?


      Perhaps every day you go out and run the same route at the same time of day. Or, your pace and distance are always the same. If so, spice it up! Add interval training – if even on the same route, alternate fast/slow running. If the route is convenient, try running it in the other direction, or even changing up a block here or there. Add some cross training, such as push-ups or squats after every few blocks.Go trail running if you just run on roads. If you run alone, try running with other people, or volunteering to run with a shelter dog. If you always run from home, try a different route. Even driving a few miles away and just starting from a new location can open up a lot of new options. Run at a different time of day. Sign up for a race… or if you feel all you do is compete, don’t, and just run without your Garmin for a while, enjoying being mindful of the moment.


      Overall, don’t be afraid to change things up for a while. And make sure to give yourself permission to do so. Feel good about what you are trying versus feeling guilty because “I should be…” Do what you need to do to stay healthy and well!

I work with people every day to develop strategies to improve health and wellness – check out your options for private coaching, change it up with a new training programs or contact me to discuss!

Like/Follow the Running with Life Facebook page for more updates 🙂

Until then, keep Running with Life! – Coach Amie

How Meditation Can Help Your Running… And Your Life

Get Focused ;)
Can Meditation Help Your Running?
Can Meditation Help Your Running?

I was out in the middle of nowhere when I realized IT.

On a sunny morning, I was out for a run in the countryside. It had been happening for a while, yet it hadn’t dawned on me. Until just – that – moment. And that’s exactly what IT was. The complete clarity of that moment.

I saw the greenness of the trees and surrounding vegetable fields. The pale blue sky. The birds flying and chirping to my right. A breeze blowing across the dark asphalt road. I was in that frame of time, and nothing else.

But even more: I was fully in tune to my running. I felt, smoothly, how my body and muscles were functioning during the run, as a well-oiled machine. The tap tap tap of my feet hitting the ground in perfect rhythm with my breathing.

And that’s when I realized IT. The constant chattering of my thoughts were missing. The stream of things I had to do later that day, of what someone said yesterday, of how far I’d run or still needed to go, of my race, of this, that and the other thing – gone. I had total, clear focus on my surroundings, my body and my running.

A couple of weeks prior I had bought a meditation headband known as, “Muse,” to help me meditate. I’d studied meditation before, and said I was going to do it. Without “actually” doing it. I was skeptical. But the headband was a bit expensive, so now that I had some skin in the game – I was invested – I WAS going to meditate. Through sensors that communicated with an app, it detected if your thoughts started to move away, at which point, it would signal you to get back in the game.

I made a goal to use it every morning when I woke up. I started with three minutes. Clear your mind, and focus on your breath. That doesn’t sound that hard, until you try to do it, and then all of a sudden, you hear the ending tone of the app and realize that your mind has been elsewhere. The.Whole.Time.

Nevertheless, I stuck with it. I made it to five minutes, seven, and twelve. Around the two-week mark, I began to think it wasn’t doing anything for me.

Until that moment.

I then noticed the same effect on the trails. My mind wasn’t everywhere in the chaos of my daily thoughts. It was on the trail, totally centered, yet without effort. I wasn’t tripping over roots yet I also wasn’t forcing myself to pay attention. The focus was clear, yet natural.

In his book, “Running with the Mind of Meditation,” Sakyong Mipham, a marathon runner, Tibetan lama and leader of an international community of meditation centers, says that running and meditation complement each other. It is natural to train both the body and the mind. Without this, we can become imbalanced. This combination of body and mind training, according to Mipham, is needed to become fully engaged in what we are doing.

This concept is also similar to what other texts name as, “Flow.” Have you ever been so involved and interested in something that you’ve lost track of time? Then you’ve experienced Flow. If you’ve watched elite athletes competing in their sport, you can see the definition of total focus, the synchrony of their mind and body in a total state of  Flow.

The first step in meditation can simply be mindfulness. Just noticing what you are doing and staying focused on it. If you are talking to someone, clear your mind and let your full focus be in the other person’s voice. In running, concentrate on your form or even one aspect of your form.

When you’re ready to try meditation, it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can simply relax, breathe, and focus on the feeling of your breath entering and exiting your body. Many think you must close your eyes, but you can also focus on something with your eyes open, such as a candle. You can listen to a clock ticking, or you can envision a relaxing scene. If you can’t clear your thoughts, you can simply watch them go by, without judgment, as clouds in a clear sky. Set a timer for two to three minutes, so that you can focus without worrying about the time. There are also many types of meditation. The key is to find the one that resonates with you.

Yesterday I attended an advanced mindful meditation clinic and the instructor said meditation IS training. It’s directing your mind to be in this place, right now. She said she couldn’t tell us how meditation would affect our lives, because it affects everyone differently. For some it may be during exercise, for others it may be a calmness in the din of fighting children or a demanding work environment. It might be better productivity, improved sleep, lowered anxiety/stress/depression or increased resistance to pain. It might be all of these. You never know until you try…

I can provide the help you need to incorporate meditation and focus into your life and/or running. Check out your options for private coaching, training programs, or contact me for more information!

Keep Running with Life – Amie

10 Answers to Why You’re Not Losing Weight (!)

Why aren't you losing weight?

Are you trying to lose weight for health or optimizing performance, but the pounds just aren’t coming off? Read on for 10 solutions!

Why aren't you losing weight?
Why aren’t you losing weight?
  1. Track your food intake.
    Start doing this one step, and you can stop reading this now! Some like to claim that it’s not all about calories in versus calories out; and honestly, it can sometimes be more complicated (more on this later.) However, if you haven’t tried this basic formula, how will you know if this method works – for you?Websites and apps like MyFitnessPal, Weight Watchers or SparkPeople all allow you to readily track the food you eat and the calories you burn exercising using a large database of food counts and exercises.To lose weight, the calories you eat need to be less than calories burned. This is normally the first problem many people have.

    Studies have shown that many consistently underestimate their food intake and overestimate their daily activity, with many saying they must just have a slow metabolism, bad genetics or other factors.If you feel this method is too inconvenient for you, do it for three days or a week. That alone may surprise you.

  1. REALLY measure your food portions.
    This goes along with #1… if you are tracking, but haven’t weighed or measured your food, it can be an eye opener as to what a portion size actually is. A simple food scale can do the trick here. Weighing can be more accurate than measuring, for example, 120 grams of something, versus a measured half cup. 120 grams is 120 grams, but a measuring cup can be overfilled, even unknowingly.

    Another way is to go by observational portion sizes but even these surprise many: a 3-ounce serving or protein is about the same size as your palm. A serving of peanut butter is about the same size as your thumb. See this chart for more…Portion Sizes are often overestimated

    If you were tracking and measuring for a while and then decided to “wing it” after a while, it’s good to track and measure again for a few days just to make sure your portions are still in line. It’s natural to sometimes get a little hungry when trying to lose weight. Psychologically this can cause slight “excesses” here and there – a slightly larger portion here, a small snack there. And it all adds up!

  1. Correct your calorie deficit.
    To lose weight, the typical rule of thumb is that a 500-calorie deficit per day will equal around a pound of weight lost per week. A generally safe rate of weight loss for most people is around 1-2 lbs per week, or about 1% of your total bodyweight per week.Some might see shows such as the “Biggest Loser” and think, “But that’s too slow!” But frankly, the smaller and leaner you are, the longer it can take to safely lose fat.

    Everyone is different, and you may lose somewhat faster (or slower) than this, however expecting to drop 10 pounds in a week with an extremely high calorie deficit, either through eating too few calories or combining that with exercising to the extreme can be unhealthy and even dangerous, causing nutritional and hormonal imbalances. At a lesser level, it can actually slow weight loss in the long run. Also, as hunger rises, it can lead to a binge and cause a larger setback than it’s worth.

    On the other hand, if you are at a very low- or no-calorie deficit, you will find your weight loss stagnant or non-existent. There could be several reasons for this. First, see #1 and #2. Then, even if you are diligently following what you read, the listings for calories in food values can be inaccurate. As well, calories burned during exercise are based on average equations and can vary greatly from person to person.

    So what to do? One method is to adjust what you’ve been doing. If you have calculated a reasonable calorie deficit according to your preferred method, continue using the same technique as you were before before, but adjust your TOTAL daily calories by 100-200 calories per day, and see if that changes anything. Experiment until you find a level at which YOU begin to see your desired results.

  1. Stick with the program.
    Real weight loss programs may take 3-4 weeks to show results. Some may notice weight loss right away, while others may take longer as their body adjusts. Factors such as sodium intake, bloating or dehydration can skew results. Many people choose to weigh themselves once a week, and any of these factors can influence the number you see.

    If exercise is involved, it can be even more complicated. Exercise is powered by carbohydrate stored in the muscles. A hard workout burns off carbohydrates.  Since carbohydrate is stored in the muscles with water, this can cause weight loss. When the carbohydrate is replenished, this can then again appear as weight gain – however it is not fat gain, yet the scale will vary due to these issues. Therefore, it can take a while to see a weight trend.

  1. Measure results in different ways.
    I usually advise people to use more than one measure for the most accurate results if they are trying to lose fat. A scale is one tool, but doesn’t always tell the whole story. Regularly checking body composition, or the percent of your body that is comprised of fat, is also an important component. “You could be gaining muscle,” is often heard by frustrated, exercising dieters. Yet this almost cliché statement can be true!

    How to check body composition? There are many ways, with some of the methods considered the most accurate (the “Bod Pod” air displacement chamber, water displacement or DEXA scanning) also being the least available and most expensive. Other ways include an experienced trainer using calipers to “pinch-test” the amount of fat on the body (the more sites “pinched” with the calipers tend to be the more accurate). Or, a step-on body fat (bio-impedance) scale.

    Some argue the step on bio-impedance scales vary in their readings, however I have found on several different occasions that when using a 7-day average of results, a step-on bodyfat scale has been within 1% of the DEXA or underwater weighing methods for measuring body fat. Also, it’s not always getting stuck on the exact number, but observing a gradual downward trend, that matters.

    Other commonly used methods are how your clothes fit (using the same clothes), measuring tape, progress pictures, a mirror or athletic performance. These can all give a better rounded picture of your progress than just a number on the scale.

  1. Reduce stress.
    Stress can stall in weight loss or even cause weight gain, as can lack of sleep. Stress and tension can cause the “stress hormone” cortisol to build up in the body, which some say can lead to excess fat accumulation, especially around the midsection. As well, anxiety can be a large culprit of overeating or even sedentary behavior.

    Looking at lifestyle factors outside of diet and exercise can cause the “A-ha” moment to your body and be the key to weight loss success.Relaxation and focus techniques such as meditation, massage and even enjoying more moments of laughter or serenity can all help with both stress and weight loss. Intense bouts of exercise can also help calm anxiety.

  1. Be careful of “justification calories”.
    After an endurance race or other hard fitness goal, it can be OK to take a break and give your body the extra calories it needs to heal. However, it’s not uncommon for the break to become an extended vacation from healthy eating habits and lead to weight gain over the coming weeks or months.

    This attitude can even happen after a single exercise session. In one experiment, researchers had two groups of people walk the same route around a campus. One group was told they were going to walk this route for exercise. The second group was told they were going to walk the same route to sightsee. Afterwards, both groups were polled as to what they ate – and guess what – the group who thought they did the route for exercise ate more than the “sightseeing” group. So again, watch the “justification” calories.

  1. Start just one time.
    On the contrary, it’s tempting to give up after falling off the wagon only one time. “I already ate a donut, so I might as well eat <fill in the blank> as well, and start over tomorrow/next week/next month.” Constant progress, over perfection, is the goal. Many times if someone has overly perfectionistic attitudes toward eating, this can also result. So give yourself a reality check and just keep going!
  1. Moderate the “cheat.”
    As mentioned before, not counting small snacks here and there can add up. However, some people choose to give themselves free meals or days during the week. While some can find this motivating, having an extreme free for all, even just one day a week, especially when paired with any of the previous steps, can set a person’s weight loss plan back several days – each week. An integrative doctor I used to see commented that some hormonal markers such as insulin levels can possibly take many days or even longer to reset after an event.

    While it’s fine to give yourself treats or a break now and then, try to keep in mind moderation, and a full picture of figuring out a lifestyle change that will work for you for a long time to come.

  1. Change it up.

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over...
    STOP the Insanity!

    If what you’ve been doing for the past three months or three years has not worked – stop and try something else! Just because it worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for your particular body type, chemistry or lifestyle. Or, if it was working for a while and then is no longer working, perhaps your body has become accustomed to your routine. The human body is extremely adaptable – so change up your workout routine or food intake.

    I wrote in a recent Facebook post about my 50+ lb weight loss. There was a point when I ate very healthfully, trained sometimes twice a day but could not break out of a weight loss plateau I had reached. At one point, I accidentally injured my foot, and could barely walk at all. Not wanting to gain weight without exercise, I cut calories to a sedentary level and watched my intake like a hawk. That week – the weight started falling off. Weeks later as my foot healed, I had lost 18 lbs without any exercise whatsoever, whereas everything I tried before hadn’t worked.

    When I went back to a workout class that I had regularly attended before my foot injury – everyone else who had continually gone to the same class looked the same. They all asked me what new diet or exercise program I had tried. I simply told them I stopped exercising as much and relaxed my calorie deficit. To this day I’m not sure some of them believed me.

The key to lasting weight loss is to find what works for YOU. This is one thing a Wellness Coach can help you to discover. Contact [email protected] for more information on how.

Keep running with life ! – Amie

Excellent Pre-run Snack – Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans [Recipe]

Ok class… who can tell me what this is???

Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans – Gone!

Yes, that’s right – it’s an EMPTY box of Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee beans. I’m going to blame this one on a friend I’ll call Heidi R.T. (and you know who you are…) One day, she had a post mentioning that she was choosing from a selection of chocolate/coffee delicacies, with a picture of the chocolate covered coffee beans being one.

Honestly, my first thought was – Oh, how unhealthy! Until… she reminded me of my own philosophy that small bits ARE ok. And, indeed they are! Every day, you have a small amount of “discretionary” calories to have as you choose!  There is need to be “a perfect eater” to lose weight, or to simply be healthy!

I coincidentally saw these at the store and purchased them. One serving has 180 calories with 12 grams of fat, however, if you only eat a few chocolate covered coffee beans at a time… the contribution to your total day can be small.

So, I chose to have 6-8 of the chocolate covered beans occasionally before my morning run. That’s around 50-60 calories and is a nice little caffeinated pick-me up equivalent to about a half cup of coffee. And, they are not totally unhealthy. Caffeine has been shown to increase athletic, exercise and running performance, the rate of carbohydrate uptake into the muscles, with some studies showing enhanced fat burn as well. Dark chocolate as well is a powerful source of antioxidants.

The real deal - Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
The real deal – Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

However… a couple days ago to my dismay, I had just an empty box!

I’ve missed it so I decided to play around with some recipes…. so here’s one you may want to try!! Making it at home also ensures your own natural ingredients  😉 And, I’m not personally into the Paleo diet, but if you are.. this qualifies!

The original recipe is from memienge.com. I like it because you can make just small bits at a time. This is handy if you are the type of person who’d rather not keep temptation in the house. If you don’t want caffeine, you can substitute use raisins, almonds or other nuts for the coffee beans as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened 100% dark cocoa powder
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup coffee beans

Directions:

Melt coconut oil and stir in maple syrup. Stir in cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt until completely combined.

Chocolate Mixture
Chocolate mixture – almost there!

Place coffee beans on a piece of parchment or wax paper on a plate. Drop small portions of the chocolate mixture on the coffee beans. Now… next time, I would use small candy molds, if you have them and you’re a stickler on having the rounded shape, otherwise they come out more like “drops”… but the flavor is the same 🙂

Put in the fridge or freezer about 15-30 minutes until hardened. Eat. Yum!

You can make variations by substituting raw honey or molasses for the maple syrup; as well you can add mix-ins such as dried coconut or a bit of cayenne pepper. As the coconut oil tends to melt at room temperature, I’d keep these in the fridge.

If the flavor is too “dark chocolate” for you (I love that, but it wasn’t ‘sweet’ enough for my taste-testing Mom), you can use regular cocoa powder instead of dark, and sweeten to taste. I will experiment using natural stevia powder from my garden, and update when I do!

Have a great day, and let me know what you think!!

And don’t forget to “Like” and “Follow” the Running with Life Coaching page on Facebook for more tips, giveaways and more!

How to start running if you haven’t run for a while (or at all…)

starttobegreat

Returning to running after a battle with injury or illness is tough. It may have been weeks, months, years… or perhaps you’ve never started! So, no matter what your level, here are 10 tips on how to begin!

1. Think Big

What are you goals, beyond just putting your running shoes on? What motivates you? How do you picture running influencing your overall health and life? Perhaps you want to run to get into shape – what does that look like to you? Maybe you were inspired by someone who ran the Boston Marathon. That could be you one day! Picture what that looks like – think BIG – inspire yourself. Then, write it down. When you run with a goal in mind, you will be running TO and FOR something. When obstacles inevitably occur, you can think of your BIG goal and be motivated!

2. Start Small

Paradoxically, it’s often best physiologically to start in small steps. Perhaps you used to run 10 miles a day. Or, others make running look so easy. However after a layoff or when just starting out, it’s good to be conservative. Just trust that you will get to where you want to go. You lessen your chance of injury and premature burnout if you start small and build gradually. Running is basically jumping from foot to foot and the body needs to get adjusted to the forces of impact that occur with each step.

In any case, starting small might mean jogging and walking down the block, or running one mile. A 10% increase in total mileage per week is often recommended, but everyone differs in what they can handle. Pay attention to how you feel, how fast you are recovering from the workouts you are doing, and build from there.

3. Get Social

Running with other people can be motivating and hold you accountable. Perhaps the weather isn’t ideal, but the thought of five people asking you, “Hey where were you last night,” can be enough to get most people out the door. When coming back to running or just beginning, most likely most of your runs will be at a pace that most coaches call, “Conversation Pace.” This is an easy pace at which you are able to hold a conversation while running. As part of a running group, these miles can go by faster if you actually have others with whom you can have a conversation. No running groups in your area? Think about starting one of your own, or just recruit some friends to get healthier informally. Some also rely on a personal trainer, wellness coach or social media for similar encouragement and support.

4. Stay Positive

I was running in the pouring rain  and thought that there are two ways a runner could look at the situation. One is to think negatively about the rain, and as a result, skip running altogether or feel miserable the entire time. The other is to view it in a positive light: “Just think how much of a bad-a** I’ll feel like when I get done!” Sometimes, non-runners look at me like I’m crazy for running in challenging conditions. I just say, “The Marathon won’t pause for me because it’s raining/cold/hot,” and you can think of all the others who didn’t go the extra mile and get the mental edge that you will have. No matter the situation, think of what good can come from it, and it will keep you moving!

5. Keep going

When obstacles inevitably occur and things get hard, think about your Vision from tip #1. One of the biggest assets any runner can have is consistency. Maybe you feel tired, you’re frustrated that you’re not where you were before or feel you should be progressing faster. Keep going anyway. If you have a 5-mile run planned but it feels overwhelming, tell yourself you’re just going to go run a half mile. At worst, you still got a short run in. At best, you’ll feel so good that you go on to finish your whole workout.

6. Vary Workouts

A key concept in running is to vary the “FIT” of your workouts – Frequency, Intensity, and Time. Try to avoid increasing too many of these variables at once. For example if you start out with 2 or 3 days a week, perhaps next week increase either the number of days you run, or run a similar number of days for more minutes (distance). Intensity increases tend to cause the most stress on the body, especially for new runners.

7. Change Surfaces

One thing many runners do not think about in their workouts is to run on a variety of surfaces. Surely, if you are training for a road race, you’d want a majority of your running to be on roads. However running on concrete can be hard on the body, especially when returning or starting out. A trail can be a softer option. I do most of my recovery runs on trails even just in general training, and this option is also favored by such athletes like Olympic runner Meb Keflezighi.

Other less impactful options include treadmills or a rubberized track. One advantage to these two options is that you can exclude steep inclines with them if you are just getting adjusted to that, or trying to avoid irritating one of the many injuries that can be worsened by hills.

If you are recovering from injury, many physical therapy clinics have a supported treadmill such as the Alter-G, in which runners run on a treadmill supported by a “bubble” that counteracts gravity to variably counter some of the weighted impact to the joints. Elite athletes such as Dathan Ritzenhein have used the anti-gravity treadmill a training tool.

Another option is to run in the deep end of a pool wearing a floatation belt, which utilizes the same muscles as running. Yet, water has up to 12 times the resistance of running through air. I also include this option to more safely handle adding more weekly mileage. A final option is to cross train using a lower impact exercise such as an elliptical or bike.

8. Allow Recovery

Skipping or not planning recovery days is a common mistake amongst newer and experienced runners alike. The more hard-core, the better, right? But recovery days are how the body actually gets stronger from hard workouts. As well, a workout on paper might not look that difficult compared to what you used to do, or you may not even mentally want to admit that it is. But you must realistically go from the level of conditioning you have today. And as you come back or start running, the individual workouts may not feel that hard. However it is often the accumulated stress and fatigue that can build up if proper recovery is not taken. Take days off, or easy days, along with the harder and/or longer days. You’ll get stronger and build endurance faster, and your body will thank you!

9. Watch Nutrition

Nutritional needs change when a person starts running. Increased calories are needed as miles increase. Continuing to eat the same amount can lead to poor performance, lowered recovery and healing, as well as nutritional deficiencies. For some, exercise surpasses appetite. However for others, it can increase hunger. Others mentally over-justify excess calories because they feel they ran hard, so “earned” another slice of pizza or pie. There’s even a term, “Rungry”, which refers to the cravings and resulting excess calories a runner can take in especially after long runs. A general rule of thumb is that runners burn 100 calories per mile on “average”, however this can vary significantly from person to person.

And remember, if you see the scale going up, this doesn’t always equal fat gain. Runners store extra carbohydrate and water in their muscles to power through workouts. Regular body composition checks can tell you more accurately what changes are occurring.

10. Other Changes

One you begin establishing your running routine, what other changes can you make to keep going and optimize your performance? Looking at factors outside of your running, such as getting quality sleep, improving nutritional intake, lowering external stress and adding in strength work can all be beneficial. As a wellness coach, I can combine this with my services and knowledge as a running coach to make the big picture work for you. Feel free to contact me for more information, and check our latest running programs or private coaching to see if it’s time to get your own run on 🙂

Run With Life…. -Amie

Two Easy Steps To Get Your Run On

What do you do when it’s raining/cold/hot/(insert your least favorite weather condition) and you still need to go for your run?

Here are two quick and easy steps to get you out the door:

Step One – Find music that moves you. If you don’t run with music, that’s ok! Play your songs to help motivate you to get dressed and ready for your run.

The book, “Healing at the Speed of Sound: How What We Hear Transforms Our Brains and Lives,” by Don Campbell, points out that music can even cause people to workout harder. The speed of the music made a difference too. In the study, faster correlated with a more intense workout, even if the song was the same and just played at a faster tempo.

Scott Jurek in his book,”Eat and Run,” talks about music adding to endurance as it has the ability to ease pain equivalent to taking an extra-strength Tylenol.

Yesterday my go-to song was, “Numb,” by Usher. As the first lyrics started… “They say life is a battlefield, I say bring it on…” I ran out into the rain as if I had a built-in shield.

Today in drizzly conditions with strong winds I wove in, “Top of the World,” by the Imagine Dragons. More than the song, it reminded me of awaking to a sunny day in Phoenix, when I simply felt alive. I put myself there, and the mood remained for the duration.

This past weekend, I ran in the cold listening to hot salsa music, picturing myself in one of my favorite places, Miami!

Even for household tasks that may not be the most enjoyable, putting on motivating tunes can help the time pass faster. Campbell’s book also suggests using music you enjoy to help you wake up and start your day each morning.

Step two – Head out the door without overthinking it. There’s a saying that if you spent the same amount of time exercising as you did deciding if you were going to workout, you’d be done already.

“Don’t think just do,” is totally appropriate here. If you are healthy and uninjured, clear your mind, or focus on the song that is playing, and take off. I once read an elite athlete who said when they don’t feel like running, they tell themselves they will go 1 Km (just over half a mile). If at that point they want to go back home, then they will. 99.9% of the time though, you’ll just keep on truckin…

Does music give you energy? What else do you use for motivation ?