Strong Together Fall 2014—Week 7 - MetroFamily Magazine
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Strong Together Fall 2014—Week 7

Reading Time: 8 minutes 

Congratulations on keeping with the Strong Together program! We are so proud of you.

From Coach Sara: 

Happy fall! You have made it through some hot summer days so congratulate yourself for getting through to cooler weather. Hopefully, you've now been able to take advantage of the crisp mornings and pleasant evenings we've had recently as part of your training.

If you haven't yet registered for the Race for the Cure, don't hesitate to sign up. You can do it! As race day draws nearer (Saturday, October 18), you may be anxious to start your 5K while also still having doubts about the unknown. Have faith in your training plan and your ability to complete what you started!  Here are a few tips to help prepare you for the coming week.  

Three tips to help you prepare for race day:

Choose your outfit: Although the weather will likely change throughout the next two weeks, this is a good time to start thinking about what you want to wear on race day. Prepare for the “what if’s” and line out your options for those conditions. If you purchase new items, test them out to prevent chaffing or other issues during the 5K. Use your last longer runs as a test run to see how everything holds up and feels. 

Eat well: Determine the best fuel for your body. You may have heard about “carb loading” before a race but that strategy isn’t necessary for this event due to the shorter time spent running in comparison to a half or full marathon. There may be certain types of food that you can find give you more energy than others. Everyone is different. Prevent stomach issues that could arise during your run by avoiding anything you know is problematic for you. You do not need to worry about eating a special runner’s diet; rather, think about making all around healthier choices. When we eat better, we feel better!

Keep your promise to yourself: As mentioned previously, our training plan allows for flexibility and we all know that sometimes life can get in the way of training. However, the more consistent you can be during the remaining two weeks, the stronger and more successful your race will be. Try to look ahead and plan your workouts to ensure that you will be able to complete them. Stretch well, do your core work and make the foam roller your best friend. Listen to your body; know when you need to rest and when you can push a little harder. The small things do add up and will make you a stronger runner!

You have made it this far and are doing great. Keep up your hard work; it will pay off very soon! If you have any specific questions please feel free to contact Shelia or me or reach out to us on the Facebook page


We asked our bloggers this week to share the habits from their previous lifestyle that have been the hardest to break. Read their responses below.

From Georgeanna: When I started my journey to regain my health, I had accumulated 20 years of terrible eating habits. My portions were too large, we ate out way too much, I drank tons of diet soda, I salted everything and the list goes on and on. But one of the hardest parts of getting healthy was cutting back on sweets.  

I love a good sweet carb! My breakfast consisted of any carb you can think of: donuts, muffins, pancakes, sugary cereals or oatmeal. Never a healthy balance of proteins and carbs, just carbs. I had to learn how to fuel my body and to eat to lose weight. That meant ditching the high carb breakfast. Now I eat typically have greek yogurt (a protein) with fruit, or eggs with veggies and a bagel thin or turkey sausage and oatmeal, a much heartier breakfast to get my day started on the right track.

My go-to snacks were always carbs, too. Cookies, cupcakes, popcorn, you get the picture. More carbs! Changing my snacking ways was tough.  It has definitely been the biggest challenge for me. I was the queen of a 10pm bowl of cereal, or a mid-afternoon cookie (or three), or an after-dinner bowl of ice cream. I love sweets, so giving up those snacks was tough but necessary. I learned that once dinner is done, I am done eating. I cannot allow myself to browse the pantry after dinner. I cannot allow myself to load up on carbs with a late night snack.  

It’s not always easy, but I've realized it's worth it. When I saw the pounds dropping off, I knew I wanted to continue to see success, so I stuck with it. Sure, I still have a donut or two occasionally. I still make pancakes for my family, but I have found a much healthier recipe that uses Greek yogurt. I made adjustments that work for me and have found a healthy balance of sticking to my eating plan, and rewarding myself from time to time.  

Completely changing everything about the way I ate was challenging. I had to relearn what it meant to eat in a healthy way. I had to start over, break all the bad habits and form new, healthier habits. Losing weight and getting fit is not about finding some quick fix, but about taking your time to build new habits, find what works for you and figure out ways to replace our not so healthy behaviors with new healthy ones.  

I know that regaining my health has been life-changing. Feeling fit, being able to get out and run is amazing. I hope each of you have found some new, healthy habits to carry with you after this program is over. It’s not about how well this eight weeks goes, or what your 5K time is on October 18. Let this be the beginning of a lifetime of wellness and a more active life.  

From Christina: One of the most difficult habits from my previous lifestyle that has been challenging to break is poor sleep habits. There’s a lot of research demonstrating the effects of sleep on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. I definitely notice my wellbeing declines when I don’t get enough sleep or I get too much sleep. Following surgery two years ago, I no longer have thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism.  Without daily medication, my body goes into a state of hypothyroidism which makes for a constant feeling of fatigue. Although my cancer has been in remission for over a year, my doctors and I are still working to find the right dosage of my thyroid hormone replacement medication to both keep the cancer from returning and also relieve my sleep issues. I’m either so fatigued that I want to sleep an entire day away or I can’t fall asleep. 

This week I didn’t get a workout in until Thursday because of both sleep issues. Prepping lectures and grading assignments from 85 students kept me busy this week. That coupled with three young, active children left me drained.  What I have found, though, is that when I go for a walk/jog in the evening, I end up full of energy and not ready to sleep. This is a great feeling for me, because my constant tiredness is gone for a while. So, I tend to stay up late and try to get things done for work or home. This is why I started working out in the mornings, however, lately I’ve been too tired to wake up and work out. My goal for this week is to establish a healthy balance which starts with better sleep habits.  

The other habit that has been a challenge for me is avoiding desserts. I love chocolate: chocolate cake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, you get the picture. Author Regina Brett sums up my previous love affair with chocolate best: “When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.” However, I now know that I can resist! As I mentioned before, my metabolism is no longer being regulated by a thyroid. Therefore, I am learning that I have to be much more conscious about how I’m balancing my exercise and eating habits. As I’ve increased walk/jog distances with the Strong Together program I have found that I’m less willing to exchange the calories burned from my workouts with high calorie treats. I’ve found some great microwave mug cake recipes that support my focus on portion control while still allowing me to “have my cake and eat it too.” 

A final unhealthy habit that I have managed to address since joining Strong Together is not eating breakfast.  I now make a Juice Plus Complete Dark Chocolate Smoothie in the morning. I can mix in my favorite fruits for a quick, easy on-the-go breakfast.

These habit changes are ones that have begun to serve me well as I incorporate them into my new lifestyle.  It’s not too late to create new habits for yourself! We’ve found the motivation to take the first steps of this journey together…let’s keep it up as we approach the final stretch!

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” -Jim Ryun, former track athlete and politician.

From Shannon: Habits are definitely hard to break, and establishing good habits into your daily routine takes time. In the past, I would be committed to exercise for about four to eight weeks and then quit. Now, after exercising an average of 5 days a week (even on vacation) I can say I have successfully broken the habit of being inactive as it has been a year since I began exercising back in August of this year. 

On the nutrition side, I would like to say I eat clean, but I don't. I do eat breakfast, every morning. I don't skip it. I eat more protein, and am more conscious about the protein I get in my diet. I try to limit sugary items, and kicked the soda habit and drink a lot of water. Mentally, I am learning to kick the shame with food. I try not to feel guilty if I slip up and eat something that is not healthy or good for my body. I also try to be aware of the signs of being hungry. I don't eat extra food just because it tastes good when I am no longer hungry and I am full, but this is very hard to do. I like food, and if something taste good I can tend to want more! It is definitely a process.

From Piper: At the beginning of training with the Strong Together group, I chose to give up all soda. It is something that I have tinkered with several times. I would refrain from drinking any for a month or so and then would end up always going back to it. They never made me feel well, but it always seemed like something that I was going to give up “tomorrow.” Even though there have been times, like this morning, that I still crave a soda, I have kept my commitment to change that habit during this training process. 

Some of the other nutrition changes I have tried to implement during this process include eating more protein, less carbs and more healthy fats. My husband and I have always been a big proponent of the Paleo lifestyle but don’t stick to it all the time. We normally try to eat a strictly Paleo dinner and then as few carbs as possible during the rest of the day along with more frequent, but smaller, meals. Training for the 5K has been a good reminder of how important nutrition is all the time even when it seems like making a healthy food choice does not fit into my busy schedule. I can always tell how my runs are affected by the food I eat, because some days I feel like I could run a lot farther than planned and other days I’m ready to quit after the first half-mile.

The accountability of the Strong Together group has really pushed me to change all aspects of my life for the better when it comes to nutrition. I would encourage you to find someone to be accountable to in your food choices and exercise. It really does make a difference in the choices you make on a daily basis.  

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