Dealing with Injury

Now that I’m over a week out from my car accident, which exacerbated a pre-existing shoulder injury, I’ve certainly had some time to reflect.

Dealing with this shoulder injury and mild whiplash left me not only largely immobilized, but also completely out of my element. I went from 5+ days per week of exercise down to virtually zero (though I did do 150 squats one day when I felt like I was losing my mind and have gone on several long walks). It has been as much a mental struggle as a physical one and I’ve learned so much. 

Dealing with Injury

One of the biggest surprises for me was how depressed I became after my accident. The stress of dealing with insurance along with the physical pain and frustration of missing work (and needing to find coverage for my clients), left me completely down. Not being able to run or lift weights to let off steam just made it worse. On top of that, I couldn’t prepare food (at least not easily) with one hand, so I started ordering out.

All of this led to a very unhappy and slightly “softer” Becki (you know what I mean, there’s a bit more puffiness where a harder body once existed). Being depressed + eating crap + not working out = bad news. 

Now that I’ve finally returned to work (hallelujah!) I’m not as bored as I was just sitting at home, but I’m still not cleared to run, lift weights, etc. Dealing with this injury has proved to be a challenge and now that I’ve experienced it I can imagine others dealing with injuries might struggle as well.

We all hear plenty about how to deal with recovering physically from an injury (rest, combat inflammation with ice and NSAIDs, give it time, etc.), but much less about how to deal with the emotional and mental toll. To that end, here are my tips for dealing with injury on the mental/emotional side.

injury mental and emotional

1. Don’t Sit Around

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t rest, because you absolutely should. Your body needs time to heal, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around feeling sorry for yourself. If you can, go for a walk. If you can’t, at least open up the curtains and let some sunlight in. Tackle the books you have collecting dust on the shelf or stored on your Kindle. Sit out in the sunshine (with sunscreen, of course). Just make sure you’re doing something. If you’re a regular exerciser and can get in some sort of movement, you’ll feel much better for it. Keeping your brain active with reading or crossword puzzles will make you feel less stagnant. Ask your doctor what he or she recommends.

2. Make Healthy Food Choices

When you’re in pain or incapacitated it’s easy to fall out of a healthy eating routine–this is especially true if you can’t make food for yourself (something I learned the hard way). To keep from falling into this trap, plan ahead as much as possible. Many grocery stores have pre-chopped vegetables and pre-portioned meats that you can use in a pinch. If you’re bed-bound and must order delivery, try to stick to the healthiest options available or consider grocery delivery from a place that also carries hot bar and cold bar items. While not ideal, many times they are healthier than their restaurant counterparts. Your body will appreciate the healthy food, which will help aid in physical recovery as well as keep you feeling energized rather than weighed down.

3. Ask For Help

If you’re like me, you don’t like to feel helpless. That’s all well and good, but when you actually need help it’s important to ask for it, especially since being injured can start to feel very lonely. Rather than re-injuring yourself or becoming a hermit who only eats restaurant delivery, ask your friends, loved ones, and roommates to help out. No one wants to see you in pain or struggling to do things on your own when you don’t have to. This includes picking up groceries, help preparing food, and navigating the personal injury and insurance system, if it applies to you. Anything to help minimize the stress that makes you want to pull your hair out.

What tips do you all have for dealing with the mental and emotional stress that accompanies illness or an injury?

Which of my tips is the hardest for you to remember?


That Time I Was Attacked By A Lexus

It’s been a little quiet on the blog lately. After some shoulder rehab on a pre-existing injury, including 3 days in a sling, I was starting to feel relatively normal again.


I was even able to go sling-free for a trip to Hull on the boat.


Then last Monday, as I was on my way back to work, another driver merged into my lane without looking and right into my driver’s side door.


After that my shoulder got much worse. A trip to urgent care on Tuesday led to more x-rays, two prescriptions for pain medication for both the shoulder and mild whiplash, and an appointment with a shoulder specialist on Friday.

Needless to say, blogging moved to the back burner because typing in a sling was a pain. With any luck though, I’m back!

Physical therapy starts on Tuesday and (eventually) I’ll be back to normal. Thanks for bearing with me.


Workout Wednesday: Week of June 2

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Before I start a new series where I share my personal workouts for the week, I’m happy to announce the winner of my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor. Congrats, Katie G! Be on the lookout for an email soon! I should also note that the original winner was disqualified once the entries were actually verified. This is why it’s important to be honest in your giveaway entries, kids! :)

Garmin winnerIn response to my request for feedback on the blog, several people asked for more workouts, both my own and some that I’ve created for all of you. I’ve decided to use Wednesdays as my opportunity to do this so check out my workouts from the week of 6/2-6/8.

Workout Wednesday 6.2

June 2 – long walk (approximately 5 miles) between shifts

June 3


June 4

6.4June 5


June 6 – Rest Day

June 7


June 8 – Rest Day (beach)

I’m still experimenting with the best way to share these workouts with you, so I’d love your feedback! If you have any questions about these workouts (for instance, stab pad is a blue stability pad and I,T,W is the shape of my arms while lying face down on a mat), let me know in the comments!



Metabolic Rate: Why You NEED To Eat To Lose Weight Safely

Friends, it’s time for some real talk and this is going to be a long one. I hope you’ll stay with me to the end.

calories per day

Day after day I work with clients who are trying to lose weight and somehow got the idea that 1,200 calories is the standard for weight loss. This blog post from last September did a great job of articulating my feelings about that at the time. The most terrifying thing for me is that people are taking it to even greater extremes and I see it in both my clients and some of the people who have added me as a friend on My Fitness Pal.

“If 1,200 calories is good or recommended for weight loss, then eating even fewer should help me lose more, faster.”

The emphasis on the magical number 1,200 drives me nuts and the consumption of even fewer calories is scary. The origin of that number, at least I would assume, is that 1,200 is the number a woman should never drop below for safety’s sake, based on an average woman’s basal metabolic rate. Do you get what that means? By eating fewer than 1,200 calories you may be putting your body at risk. Frankly, 1,200 is even too low for the vast majority of people. Yet I see people eating between 700-800 calories.

At a very basic level, to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you use. Calories in versus calories out. We’ve all heard that and for the most part it’s true. Just because it’s true doesn’t mean that’s all there is to it. It isn’t that simple. Let me repeat, it isn’t that simple!

healthy weight loss

Your body is smart. It wants to protect itself and it knows it needs to be nourished. Each body is unique and each person has slightly different caloric needs based on the amount of nourishment needed to feed muscles and healthy tissue. Newsflash: your organs are included in that!

Consume fewer calories than you need to nourish these muscles and tissues and your organs will slowly shut down. Emphasis on slowly. It isn’t going to happen immediately and as true as starvation mode is, it doesn’t happen fast enough for most of us to take it seriously. I doubt a single person hasn’t heard of starvation mode, especially those trying to lose weight.

One of the biggest problems is in the name. When people are consuming fewer calories than they need, there comes a time when the metabolism slows and the person genuinely doesn’t feel hungry very often. This in itself leads people to dismiss the idea of starvation mode. “If I were starving, I would feel hungry! I feel fine.”

People seem to also be skeptical that starvation mode exists. The misconception is that in starvation mode you’ll put on weight and many people think, “If that’s true, how do people with anorexia continue to lose weight?”

Starvation mode does not lead to your body putting on weight. It leads to a slowing of weight loss in an attempt to conserve what energy it has. When your body isn’t getting adequate nutrients, it will turn to your own tissue to nourish itself.

Your muscles are more nutritious than your fat. Think about that. When your body is lacking the nutrition it needs to continue to function, it will turn to the most nutritious source and you will lose muscle mass. You will also lose bone mass and could start losing your hair, getting brittle nails, etc. Your body prioritizes continuing to function over everything else.

When you lose muscle mass, your metabolism will slow down, making it harder to burn fat and much more likely that any weight you lost during this time will be put back on. Not in the form of muscle, but in the form of fat. This is why crash dieting can lead to an even bigger weight gain afterward than was lost initially.

So how many calories does your body need to maintain your muscle mass? That is based on your Basal Metabolic Rate. What is metabolic rate, really? From the American Council on Exercise (ACE):

Metabolic rate represents the number of calories needed to fuel ventilation, blood circulation and temperature regulation. Calories are also required to digest and absorb consumed food and fuel the activities of daily life. Or put another way, metabolic rate is an estimate of how many calories you would burn if you were to do nothing but rest for 24 hours. It represents the minimum amount of energy required to keep your body functioning.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is a little different from Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). The main difference is that BMR is taken in a darkened room immediately after waking and 12 hours of fasting to get an accurate reading while RMR readings tend to have fewer restrictions. There are several ways to measure this number, but one of the most common (and considered one of the most accurate without gas analysis through either direct or indirect calorimetry, which is the most accurate measurement), is the The Mifflin-St Jeor equation for estimated RMR:

10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5

10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161.

Using this equation for my own metabolic rate resulted in over 1,500 calories. Using the BodyGem at work, which is an indirect calorimeter and more accurate than the equation, resulted in almost 1,700 calories.

This means that if I do absolutely NOTHING all day, I burn between 1,500-1,700 calories to exist in my current state.

When I eat fewer than this number of calories, I’m already at a calorie deficit, meaning I will lose weight. If I am also exercising, that changes my metabolic rate and means that to maintain my weight I’ll need to eat more. The more muscle you build, the higher your metabolic rate, which means you’ll need more calories.

If you’re eating fewer calories than your BMR or RMR and you’re exercising, you may be putting yourself in an extreme calorie deficit. This is one reason why those eating fewer than 1,000 calories per day feel too weak or fatigued to exercise. You’re not even eating enough for your body to rest! 

This number isn’t taking into account even sitting at a desk all day. For that you need to check out your daily caloric need. A great calculator for that can be found here. When I put my info into that and indicate that I’m moderately active (3-5 workouts per week), my daily caloric need is 2359 calories!

Check out this calculator to determine your daily caloric need and then subtract either 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound per week or 1,000 calories per day to lose 2 pounds per week. Since the calculator already took exercise into account, this is the number of calories you should be eating.

With 3-5 days of exercise per week, I can lose 2 pounds per week (the upper limit for healthy weight loss), by eating 1,359 calories per day. Even if I eat 1,859 calories per day, I’ll lose a pound per week. The most important thing is that I will not lose muscle mass and am not at a risk of malnutrition, starvation mode, brittle bones, etc.

You do not need to eat 1,200 calories or less to lose weight! You should not eat 1,200 calories per day or less unless you are particularly petite and that’s what your calculation indicates.

It is super important to note that if you have been eating too few calories and increase to your healthy calorie range, your body may respond at first by putting on weight. This is normal and necessary. Your body WILL stabilize and you’ll replenish your muscles, bones, and vascular system then you will start to lose fat. Trust the process and give it time.

Trust the process

If you’re still with me, bravo! I know this is a lot of information, but the primary takeaway is that you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) starve yourself to lose weight. Eat nutrient dense foods, adequate calories to maintain your muscle mass, and move more to lose weight. 

If you’ve learned anything from this post, please share it. We need to spread the word. I would also love to hear your thoughts.


Exciting Announcements: HLS ’14

The past 12 months (and beyond) have been a whirlwind for me. Now that I have started a job as a full-time personal trainer, completed my second marathon and attended my 5-year college reunion, it seems like there couldn’t possibly be much left for me to do. I assure you, however, there’s plenty (and that’s how I like it).

You may remember that after attending the Healthy Living Summit here in Boston in 2012, I was overwhelmed and overjoyed with being part of such an amazing community. Then last year at HLS ’13 in Minneapolis/St. Paul I had the opportunity to lead a panel on self-care, which was incredibly rewarding.

Blogger Self Care panel

This year with HLS ’14 in Madison, WI, I wanted to do even more.

I am happy to announce that I have been working as the Fit-Mingle Manager for this year’s Healthy Living Summit as part of the Dream Team!


I have been working to put together fitness-based activities for the attendees that will be both unique and physically challenging, while also being fun. I can’t wait to see which events are the most popular and see people working up a sweat while mingling. As a side note: if you’re attending the Summit this year and have an idea for a fit-mingle (or would like to lead a mingle), email me!

As if that weren’t amazing enough, I have another HLS ’14 announcement to make: I’m speaking again this year!


Attendees will have the opportunity to hear me speak about Proper Recovery After Exercise, including nutrition, hydration, rest, and stretching/muscle recovery.

If you hadn’t already decided to attend the Summit, that’s reason enough, right? Obviously I’m joking, but I’m absolutely not joking that you should register ASAP! This year’s Summit will include two full days of sessions (Friday and Saturday), unlike in years past where there was just one day of sessions (Saturday), and they all sound absolutely amazing!. Also unlike years past, this year’s Summit will be capped at 100 attendees, so tickets are going to go fast! This cap is to help ensure that each attendee gets an opportunity to meet the sponsors, attend events, and meet new people.

I can’t even begin to put into words how much fun the Summit is if you’ve never been, or how many new friends you’ll walk away with, but I can tell you that it’s unlike anything else you’ll experience. The community is truly warm and welcoming in a way I never could have imagined.

Registration is officially open, so snag your tickets now and don’t forget to email me if you have ideas for fit-mingles in Madison this September!

Will you be attending the Healthy Living Summit this year? Which sessions are you most excited to attend?


KeyBank Vermont City Marathon 2014

Over one week ago, I ran my second marathon. While I didn’t chronicle my training the way I did last year when I ran VCM, it’s because rather than following a specific plan, I focused on running more consistently, as part of my Spring Into Action partnership with Musselman’s.


The goal was to do 50% more (in honor of their 50% larger applesauce) over the course of the spring months to lead a healthier lifestyle in small steps. One of my goals was to bring my running up to 3-4 times per week and ultimately up to 5. I was also shooting for 50% more sleep and 50% more fruit.

I used all of these goals to help me complete my second marathon because running was only part of it.

One thing I realized during the campaign and in my training was that my orientation period at work was not conducive to much sleep or exercise. As the campaign began, I transitioned out of the orientation program and was able to adjust my sleep schedule. It also meant I could find time to exercise more, which not only meant more running, but more strength training.

At the risk of spoilers, the biggest thing I learned during the campaign is that even when I was trying to take small steps, sometimes I made my goals a little too big. I learned that small steps really are key and while I didn’t necessarily excel at all of my goals, overall I did at least 50% more for my health and that is the most important thing. 

One piece of that was when I made the decision the week prior to my marathon to rest. So after taking some time to rest and recover, Joe and I packed up the car (complete with our foam roller, The Stick, and shoes that I was donating, as well as lots of snacks) on Saturday morning, the 24th, to hit the road for Vermont.

marathon packingWe drove into Burlington and just like last year’s race I was filled with excitement when I saw all the race signage.

vermont city marathon

We stopped by the race expo to pick up my race number and swag bag before heading to American Flatbread for what has become my traditional pre-marathon lunch: gluten-free frittata flatbread.

Number and swag.

Number and swag.



After lunch there was plenty of time for relaxing, so that’s what we did in the hotel. It gave me lots of time to think about my goals and what hitting them (or not quite hitting some of them) meant to me. In some ways I felt better prepared for the race this year, in some ways I felt ill-prepared. I decided to focus on taking the race one step at a time, reminding myself that all of our goals happen in small steps.

On Sunday morning I woke up bright and early, had my breakfast, and we headed down to Battery Park to line up. I decided to run with a pace group this year in hopes of beating last year’s time. I found the 5:00 pace group (last year’s time was just under 5:30) and met a super sweet fellow runner named Amy. She and I would continue to motivate each other through a huge portion of the race.

For the first 10 miles, I stayed on pace with my group. Sometimes I would get slightly ahead (like when I saw Joe for the first time at the 9 mile mark), other times I would fall behind a little, but my pace was pretty consistent. I was feeling great and super strong. I also did a much better job of pacing my fluids, both water and sports drink. Whereas last year I didn’t keep my electrolytes balanced, this year I drank both water and sports drink at just about every fluid station.

Somewhere around mile 11, I started to lag behind. I took my first real walk break and started to lag behind. I noted to Amy that it probably wasn’t a good sign that I was already starting to negotiate with myself about how much running versus walking I needed to do.

At the half marathon mark, the relentless sun had turned to stifling heat. I was grateful I had worn a hat, but I still felt the heat slowing me down even further. By mile 18, I was starting to doubt myself. I texted Joe to tell him I was struggling and considered dropping out entirely. My low back was aching as were my neck and shoulders.

I stopped along the lake and reflected on how beautiful everything was and how appreciative I was to be running my second marathon when just a few years ago I had never run at all.

vcm views

Standing at this view I realized that while a PR might be out of my reach, finishing didn’t have to be. This was when I posted to my Facebook.

i will finish

The encouragement I got was amazing, as was the return text I got from Joe that said, “Keep it going.”

When I saw Joe again, he had gluten free pretzels and water waiting for me. He also walked and jogged with me for a bit while I stretched out and did my best to keep going. When I jogged my feet hurt, when I walked my back and shoulders hurt. No matter what I did, my body screamed for me to stop, but I knew a lot of it was mental. Nothing in my body was screaming injury, it was just screaming extreme exertion.

Call me cliche, but I actually started repeating all sorts of mantras to get me through. The most helpful one was when I reminded my body that it doesn’t run me, I run it. 

So I kept pushing.

I decided to do one minute of walking for every two minutes of running. I pushed as hard as I could doing that until I switched to a minute walking for every minute and a half running. By the time I saw Joe again, I was doing more of a minute of walking to a minute of running.

Along the way I had also spoken with a man who was running his 14th or 15th marathon and he noted that the course seemed relentless. He also remarked that he had thought about quitting at the half marathon mark. I kept reminding myself of that as I continued running and walking. Reminding myself that I wasn’t the only person struggling and that not setting a PR did not make my race any less amazing, I was able to keep pushing a little at a time.

About a mile from the finish, I decided to just go for it. I told Joe I’d meet him at the finish, and headed off into a sprint. While the pain I was experiencing had been too much for me to run consistently for 26.2 miles, it wasn’t enough to keep me from finishing the race as hard as I possibly could.

I passed several runners on the way to the finish and several more down the finishers’ chute. As I rounded the corner and turned onto the grass, I heard the announcer called my name. It was in that moment that the emotion overtook me. Someone actually asked me when I got my medal how I felt finishing the marathon and all I could say was, “Good, I’m okay.”

My time was not as fast as I had hoped and I did not PR, but I finished my second marathon.

vcm finisher

I pushed through when things got tough and I listened to my body when I needed to. I may not have been running 5 days a week leading up to the marathon and I may not have increased my fruit intake by 50%, but what I actually did during the Spring Into Action challenge was learn to give my body what it needs in the moment. 

This may not be my last marathon ever, but it is my last marathon in the near future. I have decided to focus on a new fitness goal of mine to hit new milestones and push me in the direction of my dreams. I encourage everyone to do 50% more now and in the future by pushing when things seem tough. When you feel like you can only give 10%, give at least 20%. You are capable of doing far more than your doubts would have you believe, so keep moving just one step at a time.



Heart Rate Training with Garmin & Medical Arts Press

I received the Garmin heart rate monitor discussed in this post free of charge from Medical Arts Press in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own.

When I started my weight loss journey, I didn’t use any fancy equipment. Running and bodyweight exercises were my go to and I wasn’t tracking anything other than my food. Now that I’m pursuing a different level of fitness, I’ve become interested in heart rate training.

For the uninitiated, heart rate training is based on the premise that in different heart rate zones (based on each person’s resting and maximum heart rate) there are different fitness benefits, including fat burning, aerobic endurance, and anaerobic training. Each of these zones can be important for different fitness pursuits.

Many cardio machines now have heart rate monitors, but they aren’t always accurate and are not helpful at all for those who prefer to exercise outdoors or to give insight into other forms of exercise, such as strength training. That’s why when Medical Arts Press, a wholesale retailer of medical and health supplies, contacted me about trying the Garmin FR70 heart rate monitor, I was super excited!

It arrived in easy to open packaging with user manuals in multiple languages. The package included the sport watch, a dongle for the computer, and a heart rate strap. With just a few quick button pushes (guided by the quick start guide), I was ready to go!



The watch is a little bigger than the watch I normally wear for workouts, but with the added bonus of wirelessly uploading my workout data, I can handle a bigger watch. The strap is meant to be worn snugly so it doesn’t move during exercise, but overall is fairly comfortable. Once I had everything set, I decided to see what it was like to use it.

As a trainer I’m always reminding my clients that strength training burns calories too and that steady state cardio isn’t the best way to burn fat. To demonstrate this, my first use of the Garmin was during an at-home strength session. In just 11 minutes of shoulder supersets with air squats in between, I burned 94 calories!


The next test for me was to wear the device during a boxing class. The strap was comfortable for the entire class and the watch didn’t get in the way of my gloves. I did loosen the band considerably though. Over the course of the class I burned 775 calories, far more than myfitnesspal estimated based on my weight alone.


In both instances of using the device my primary focus had been just to see how many calories I burned during a workout. For my third test, I decided to wear the device during a run to help pace myself, not for time, but for the proper heart rate zone.


I went for an hour and a half hilly jog in preparation for my marathon. I kept an eye on my heart rate throughout and used my knowledge of heart rate zones to use my energy wisely. By doing this I was able to maximize my fat calorie burn with a total calorie burn of 1198.

The one complaint I have about this particular device is that there is no built in GPS component so I was unable to actually track the distance of my runs. Still, it’s a great option for those beginning to use heart rate training for their workouts, whether for running or other exercise.

In the relatively short time I’ve had the device I’ve learned a great deal about my body as well, which is why heart rate training is so helpful.

I wore the device on a long walk one day and discovered that my heart rate barely changed. At first I was afraid the monitor was broken or that I was wearing it incorrectly, but after doing a few bench dips and seeing my heart rate respond accordingly I knew that wasn’t the case.

The answer instead was that because I do so much walking, my heart is incredibly conditioned to that state and remains fairly steady even over a two hour walk.

This isn’t to say that walking doesn’t have health benefits, but for me it isn’t strenuous enough to result in significant cardiovascular training. In fact, this was an instance in which the estimate myfitnesspal gave for calories burned was higher than my actual calorie burn based on heart rate.

I foresee this device being a huge help in my continued fitness pursuits, allowing me to maximize my results and work smarter, rather than harder. Now I want you to be able to do the same!

Medical Arts Press is giving one Fighting for Wellness reader the opportunity to try out the Garmin FR70. Enter the giveaway below and tell me about your experience, if any, using heart rate monitors in the past or why you want to try it out now. The giveaway will end on June 7. Good luck!!!

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Spring Has Sprung! Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Harvest

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Organic Choice for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

There is nothing quite like the smell of spring and summer. Even in the city, everything just smells a little bit fresher than it did all winter long. After the winter we had in Boston this year, that’s certainly welcome.

I told you all at the beginning of the spring that I was planting my window boxes with veggies and herbs again, this year using Miracle-Gro Organic Choice gardening products and I’m so excited at the progress my plants are making! Of course, Boston being Boston, I had to wait a whie to actually plant them because we were in a frost zone up until pretty recently, but my cilantro, leeks, bell pepper, and basil are all making beautiful progress!

The basil smells amazing already and the cilantro is starting to get that characteristic strong scent as well. It won’t be long until I can use the basil with the tomatoes Joe’s uncle is growing for a caprese salad and toss the cilantro and bell pepper in with the tomatoes for a fresh salsa. Every time I use my Organic Choice fertilizer I swear my plants look a little perkier.

scotts organic choice

This summer’s food is going to be awesome! I also planted some parsley seeds that are just beginning to sprout. I’ll use those along with the leeks for a late summer soup recipe that has been floating around in my head.

Using organic gardening products this year made me very mindful of the plants and seeds I was buying as well. If I’m going to go the distance by being careful to use organic gardening products, I want to make sure the food I’m growing is completely organic from the very beginning. The health benefits of eating organic are well explored, but taste is also a huge factor. Every time I’ve compared organic to non-organic produce, I’ve been astounded by how much better the organic tastes, so I can’t wait to try everything I’m growing this year!

Are you growing anything this spring and summer? If you need tips on where to start, check out the Miracle-Gro Learn And Grow site for all the info you need! Then tell me what recipes you’re planning to create with their organic products. I can always use new ideas!

Do you use organic gardening products? What are you growing this year?



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This Week: Rest

Sometimes the brain’s intentions just don’t match up with those of the body. Saturday afternoon after I finished work, I decided to take a nap before going on my last pre-marathon long run. It wasn’t a long nap, just around 20 minutes, but as I was getting ready to head out for my run, searing pain shot through my right shoulder.

I thought it was maybe just how I slept and would go away in a few minutes, but two hours later I was lying in bed with frozen peas on a shoulder that I could at that point barely move.

shoulder peas

The most frustrating thing is that I hadn’t lifted weights, gone for a run, or done virtually anything that could have caused the pain. Saturday night I barely slept because the aspirin I took wasn’t even touching the pain. On Sunday at 5am Joe and I took a cab to South Station so we could make a day trip to NYC. The 4.5 hour bus ride was agony and as soon as we got to Manhattan I went in a drugstore for some ibuprofen.

Luckily as the day (and an ibuprofen regimen) wore on, I started to feel a little better. The pain was still there, but it wasn’t debilitating. We spent the day walking around the city and having a great time.

NYC day tripWhen we got back home Sunday evening I made the decision that this week should just be about rest.


That’s scary for many reasons, not the least of which is that I have a marathon this weekend. The thought of going an entire week without running or lifting right before my race is scary. What’s scarier though is doing serious damage to my shoulder and needing surgery.

Sure, that’s probably an exaggeration, but as someone who has had bad shoulders for years (particularly the right one after a fall down slippery stairs to the laundry room freshman year in college), I don’t want to take chances.

I may try a short run on Wednesday to see how the shoulder holds up and I will probably try a few squats and lunges in a couple of days to keep my legs active, but this week will be nothing compared to a normal workout week, especially the week of a race.

I have also been going through race day scenarios, including what happens if I start having shoulder issues during the race. Finishing is important to me, but safety is my top priority. That means if I have to walk portions of the race, I will.

The body is resilient and can make it through most things relatively unscathed, but pride can sometimes be louder than what our bodies are screaming to tell us. Learning to listen to my body rather than my pride hasn’t always been an easy task, but I know if I want my body to be ready for what’s to come next year in my fitness journey (exciting news is on the way!), I have to be good to it now.

Do you have a hard time listening to your body? Have you ever taken a week of rest prior to a big race or fitness event?


Peak Fitness: What Does It Mean?

Thank you all for the feedback on what you’d like to see more of on the blog. If you haven’t given your feedback yet, go here to share!

Today I want to talk about peak fitness, what it means to me, and why one size doesn’t fit all. 

peak fitness

This topic was inspired by a comment I made in last night’s #hlsummit Twitter chat about my 2014 goal of getting back to peak fitness. When I said getting back to, it wasn’t really accurate though. The picture I have in my head of my peak fitness is usually this one that you may recognize from my bio photo.

post-race.jpgThis photo was taken just over a year ago after the Black Cat 10 Mile race in Salem, MA. I used it as a training run for last year’s Vermont City Marathon and I was in great running shape. I was about 20 pounds lighter and running was my main priority.

As much as I love how I look in that photo, I can’t in good faith for my readers consider that peak fitness. As thin as I was compared to now (and certainly to my before photo) and as great as I felt to be able to run that race with little effort, I wasn’t doing even a little bit of strength training.

Compare that to how I felt when I was incorporating strength training, but doing very little running. I felt incredibly strong when Joe and I started rock climbing and love the strength I see in myself in this photo. Yet I was larger and I can’t kid myself into thinking it was all muscle.

rock climbing

So what in the world am I getting at? 

For me to reach peak fitness, I cannot sacrifice strength for running or sacrifice running for strength. Peak fitness for me involves being on point with my nutrition, maintaining and building upon my strength, and using running as both a means of cardiovascular training and to keep myself sane (which is what made me fall in love with running in the first place).

I am currently the strongest I have ever been, but I have gained weight. Part of that has been transitioning to a new career and having a brand new schedule to contend with, but that isn’t the only factor. Running has been a bit of a chore lately, which is why I didn’t share all too explicitly on the blog that I’m running the Vermont City Marathon again this Memorial Day weekend (yes, I mean the Memorial Day weekend that’s less than two weeks away).

Peak fitness for me is being able to lift heavier than I’ve ever lifted before, running further and faster than I’ve run before, and looking the best I’ve ever looked. But that is peak fitness for me.

Define YOUR BestEach person has to figure out what peak fitness means to them, in this moment. My current goals would have never been possible when I was starting my fitness journey a few years ago. Setting my current goals would have left me feeling discouraged and like a failure. Instead, my idea of peak fitness at the time was really just about getting started.

All of us have areas in which we can improve and we all have limitations, both those we can overcome and those that in the current climate may seem insurmountable. We have to pick our battles, choose our own direction, and conquer those goals that are right for us individually.

Peak fitness for me is not necessarily peak fitness for you.

So tell me, what is your current and personal definition of peak fitness and how can I help you get there?




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