Starting the New Year in February

“I’ve decided my 2018 will start Feb 1…January is a free trial month”

If you’re like me, you’ve seen that quote show up on Facebook several times the past few weeks. It got me thinking about New Year’s Resolutions and other blank slate goals that always come with the beginning of the year.

I’ve never been shy about my dislike of New Year’s Resolutions. When it comes to health and fitness ones specifically, my anti-NYR status is even stronger, for several reasons, one of them being January is a terrible time to launch a healthy eating and exercise plan.

Look familiar?

Overall, I also don’t like the concept because it puts so much pressure on January. Few people last more than two to three weeks on their resolutions and January ends up being looked at as a failure month. The quote above puts a little bit of a humor spin on it but it’s basically the same message – January sucks, we suck, it all sucks. May as well give up and get back to my reality.

However, what I do like about the quote above is it’s honest message. Yep, January doesn’t always work out to be the month people hope for when they make a NYR. But why does that have to mean giving up entirely? February sounds like a perfectly good month to pick back up on those healthy habits.

If you struggled to stick with your goals in January, take some time – and an honest look – to figure out why. Then, make a plan to get back on track. February will be here soon sounds like a great opportunity to be ready to own it with a new outlook and fresh plan of attack.

Those of you who made Resolutions, will you be starting your New Year in February? Or has January gone well? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL. Share your goals for the year on Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #wellirl.

Why It’s Okay to Work Out When You’re Pregnant

“Work it, baby”

As a soon-to-be first-time mom, I’ve been reading a lot about pregnancy – obviously. Gotta make sure what I’m feeling is normal, assure myself what’s happening to my body has happened to other women, and, most importantly, the things I’m doing are good for baby.

One of the things I haven’t given much thought to: working out. We hear nothing about positives of exercise and, as long as I’m following doc’s orders to listen to my body, I think it’s a great habit to keep during pregnancy.

Then I read the Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy and wow. Does the author paint working out to be just about the worst thing a woman can do when she’s pregnant – like, right up there with alcohol, street drugs, and probably driving superfast on a four-wheeler with no helmet.

I’m no stranger to taking strong stances – sometimes unpopular – and writing based purely on my opinions so I really respect the author for having such a strong stance and sharing it. She also doesn’t claim to be a medical expert and clearly states this book is based on her opinions and experiences, which makes me respect the writing even more. However, I must disagree – and share a little disappointment.

A marathon might not be best for every pregnant woman but it was a good experience for me

The author assumes women only work out to lose weight (and reminds women they’re going to get fat anyway), scares future moms into thinking they’re putting baby in danger (if anything were to happen or be less than perfect when baby is born, it’s probably because you chose to exercise), and reminds you that, when you’re pregnant, your one purpose is to be a baby oven (that’s all you’re meant to do).

I think she’s missing a lot of the reasons why women choose to work out and all the benefits that come with doing it. Me, I’ve had a pretty terrific pregnancy, and a lot of that I credit to working out, mostly for these five reasons.

1. Working Out Keeps My Weight Gain Healthy
Most people assume you can eat whatever you want and gain a ton of weight during pregnancy, and it’s all good. Well, that’s not quite true. What I eat is more important than ever now that I’m responsible for feeding and developing a tiny human.

From gestational diabetes to added discomfort and other side effects, there are reasons docs and other experts suggest not gaining excessive weight. Every woman is different and all pregnancy weight gain isn’t equal, but I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to keep mine in check. Working out also encourages me to stick with healthy eating habits, super-important for baby’s development.

2. Working Out Gives Me Energy
Growing a tiny human can definitely be tiring, especially in the first and third trimesters. And I don’t want to discredit the real, true fatigue that women experience during pregnancy. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but I’ve found working out has helped me keep my energy levels up.

While I have taken an extra rest day here or there and my workouts aren’t nearly as intense as when I wasn’t pregnant, I think choosing to do a little something most days of the week has helped me from slipping into sloth mode on a regular basis.

Feeling good – growing belly and all

3. Working Out Prevents Me From Experiencing Awful Symptoms
Throughout the weeks, I’ve paid attention to all the symptoms I’m to expect when expecting. In addition to the above-mentioned fatigue, there’s constipation and hemorrhoids, swelling and ligament pain, and horrid pelvic pressure and overall discomfort. I’ve also read numerous online chats and article comments from women who make pregnancy sound like the worst possible experience a woman can go through due to all the symptoms.

I, on the other hand, have managed to avoid virtually every awful pregnancy symptom. There have been a couple things here or there but other than that, I’ve felt pretty great.

4. Working Out Makes Me…Me
In that same breath, I have to admit that, while most days I feel normal, pregnancy has brought some things I’ve never felt before and changes to my body I’ve never seen before. There have been a few times I definitely don’t feel like me.

When I work out, I feel like me. Running, it’s what I do. Lifting weights, it’s what I do. Yoga, it’s what I do. To erase something from my day that has been part of most of my days for the past several years would make me feel weirder than any of it.

5. Working Out Isn’t Selfish
One final point that’s less about me and more an overall thought – there’s a ton of guilt moms put on themselves (and they likely get from others) for taking time for themselves to take care of themselves, working out included. Can we please not begin this mommy-shaming before the baby is even born?

I get that the author doesn’t believe in working out while pregnant. That’s clear. But to make any other mom feel bad, vain, or scared for her choice to do so, I think that’s the wrong approach.

And, contrary to what the author implies, I don’t believe working out right now is selfish or taking away any health benefits from my baby – in fact, I believe I’m taking good care of both myself and baby – maybe even instilling in him/her the value of exercise before making an arrival into the world.

Like just about everything I believe in life, the bottom line to this discussion is that it’s a free country and we all have the power of choice. Everyone is different and you should do what’s best for you – period. No matter what anyone says, you know you better than anyone and, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, do what you want.

Moms, where do you stand on working out while pregnant? Did you make the choice to do it or not? Dads, where do you stand on your partner mom-to-be working out while she’s pregnant? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

5 Ways Baby Gear is Like Workout Gear

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room”

Now in my seventh month of pregnancy, I’ve spent quite a bit of time on, what I believe is the single biggest necessary stressor of any mom-to-be: the baby registry. No joke, the baby registry has taken up more of my time and given me more panicked feelings than anything else.

First-time parents, you feel me, right? There’s just so much to choose from, so much you need (or maybe don’t need), and about a million different factors that affect why you might want the Dr. Brown’s bottles vs. the Phillips Avent brand.

I started thinking about how this is really similar to running stuff and workout gear in general. Especially this time of year with so many first-timers looking to set themselves up for success in the gym, it must be overwhelming. I realized baby gear and workout gear have these five things in common.

1. There’s So Much – Good Stuff
Let’s face it, even though you don’t need every workout product on the market, you need a decent amount of workout stuff to succeed in your fitness goals. But it’s tough because there are so many options, from quality shoes and athletic clothing to a music player, and good food – and that’s just the start of the necessities.

Starting to build the baby basics

Babies need plenty of the basics to survive – and, similar to the choices we have in running shoes, clothing brands, and headphones, I’ve discovered there’s no shortage of cribs, diapers, and baby shampoo I have to choose from.

2. There’s So Much – Shit
Just as there are a lot of options of good workout gear, there’s a ton out there that’s totally unnecessary. Does the casual runner need compression socks? Does the weightroom beginner need gloves? And let’s not even start on pre-workouts, recovery foods, and general supplements. There’s so much of it that you just don’t need.

As I’ve been reviewing baby gear and chipping away at my registry checklist, I’ve determined there’s a lot of stuff out there that no parent or baby really needs. Guess I’ll soon find out…

3. You Need Recommendations
Raise your hand if you’ve ever crowdsourced advice on a new Garmin or pair of wireless headphones? It’s very common for fit folks to seek out info and recommendations on every type of gear prior to purchase.

With about 300 models of car seats, dozens of varieties of bottles, and more styles of pacifiers than should be legal, parents need help sorting through it all. Reviews and recommendations have been a saving grace for me. At least, it makes me feel like I’m making informed decisions.

4. Everyone is Different
What works for you might not work for me and vice versa. I love my Asics stability running shoes but if you have really flat feet, they’re not going to be good for you. Recommendations and research help but a certain degree of trial and error is really the only way to find out what’s best for you.

Because every baby is so different, there’s no way to know what’s going to work for all. I’ve registered for different brands of the same type of item and borrowed a few things from girlfriends to give Baby P options in case he or she hates something that’s universally loved by other babies.

Quality transportation is usually worth the investment

5. You Get What You Pay For…Sometimes
I’ve shelled out big bucks for running shoes over the year. And for the amount of miles I put in, it’s totally worth it. I’ve also purchased some of the simplest, reasonably-priced clothing that has lasted through years of workouts, sweat, and washings. In summary, I’ve found that some workout splurges are justified while others aren’t needed.

I have yet to find out how this correlates to baby gear. Based on reviews I’ve read for things like car seats, cribs, and baby monitors, you definitely don’t want to go the cheapest route – but generic diapers and wipes, and even items that aren’t marketed as baby goods do the job well and can save a ton of money.

Wish me luck as I navigate building an arsenal of supplies before Baby P’s arrival. If you have any solid advice for a first-timer, please leave a comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

12 Things I Loved This Year

“I’m lovin it”

Ah the obligatory end-of-year blog post. Throughout the years I’ve mixed it up, sharing blogs featuring top moments, favorite people, and things that have nothing to do with the end of the year.

This year I decided to put a different spin on reviewing my year and, rather than look back at experiences, look back at some of the things I loved related to those experiences.

Here are 12 things I loved this year, month by month.

January – Carbs
In efforts to experiment with my diet and how it would affect my workout performance, I dabbled a bit in carb cycling. What I learned is I’m at my best when I don’t restrict carbs. So, yes, I love carbs.

February – Skis
For someone who loves snowboarding, it’s interesting that I’d put skis here, right? After a few years of throwing out the idea, my husband learned how to ski this year. In a single day. Actually, within about the first hour. Exciting for me as I enjoyed being able to share my love of cruising down the slopes with him. I began to envision years of mountain trips and more days of powder in the future…

My happy place.

March – Big Sky
…and then, we went to Big Sky. After teaching himself to ski at a small hill in Minnesota, Chris agreed to give the mountains of Montana a try. We planned a big group trip and had a blast. It was the first time I had been to Big Sky in at least 10 years and it sure didn’t disappoint.

April – Yoga
I tried a couple different yoga classes this year and, especially in April during my peak marathon weeks, it was the best. Yoga sculpt (faster, weight-focused), snow-ga (outdoor yoga in the snow), and yoga on tap (yoga at a local brewery where one gets a beer during class). All winners.

May – The Company of Strangers
I paced my first full marathon in May. Hands down the best part was the great people I got to run with along the way. I knew none of them at the start but by the end, they felt like friends.

June – Early Morning Light
June got off to a hot start so it was nice to log some miles in the early morning hours vs. my typical early evening timeframe.

My newest obsession.

July – Hummus Avocado Toast
I don’t remember how I came up with the idea of combining hummus, avocado, cucumber, and tomato on toast but when I did, it was love at first bite.

August – Saltines
In late July, I found out I was pregnant. By August, there wasn’t much I wanted to eat. Crazy, right? One exception was saltines. I was always game for some saltines. Though one cannot live – and train for a marathon – on saltines alone, I sure came close.

September – Cooler Fall Weather
After what felt like a super-hot summer and logging lots of toasty miles, the cooler fall weather was great.

October – Chicago Trip
While it’s no secret I didn’t totally love the Chicago Marathon (to clarify, I still enjoyed it and am thrilled I did it), what I did love was the weekend trip to Chicago for the race. I got to spend time with my oldest brother, his family, and my parents. My dad made the trek into the city with us and attended his first race expo, and my bro and 16-year-old niece voluntarily got up at 4 a.m., came to the race with me, then took me to their favorite vegetarian spot after.

The “Meat Free” sign in the background was our favorite.

November – Ice Pack
Ice, in November? After greatly scaling back running in mid October, I continued to keep it easy in November, but I never really stopped. As a result, the nagging plantar fasciitis in my left foot hadn’t quite gone away so I spent plenty of time with my perfectly sized, flexible ice pack to keep it from flaring up.

December – Puppy Chow
My absolute favorite holiday treat, I again couldn’t get enough puppy chow this year. And to clarify, not just any puppy chow – my homemade puppy chow. Because making it is part of why I love it.

Happy New Year, friends. What did you love about this year? Share in the comments, tweet me @LindsayIRL, or share your on Instagram or Twitter with the hasthtag #wellirl.

A Non-Traditional New Year’s Resolution

“Step by step. Day by day.”

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. A joyous Festivus. Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate – or if you choose not to celebrate at all – I hope everyone’s taking a little time off right now to enjoy with your favorites, catch up on personal tasks, or catch some extra R&R.

While this is one time of year we momentarily get distracted from our typical wellness commitments (I write this after sleeping in this morning vs. going to the gym, having a giant muffin for “second breakfast,” and polishing off lunch with three mini Reese’s cups – yikes), the back-to-the-grind, let’s-do-this, New-Year-new-you mentality is only hours away.

Muffins. Donuts. Cake. All acceptable breakfasts this time of year.

Many will make typical New Year’s Resolutions this year, among them the ones of which I’m not a fan. Throughout the years I’ve taken a softer approach to my anti-NYR stance and, rather than outright knock the popular diet and exercise ones, shifted to topics like why there’s a better time of year to make those commitments, how to instead set ongoing goals, and practical reasons these resolutions can be set ups for failure.

This year, I’m going to really knock everyone’s socks off and get even softer on NYRs. In fact, I encourage you to make one.

Whoa. Yep. Let that sink in.

However, it comes with a catch. I’m not encouraging you to make a typical “lose weight” or “exercise every day” or “be less stressed” NYR. What I do encourage you to do is take a realistic look at something in your life, overall wellness, even at work, that you really want to change and that you’d greatly benefit from a change. Then, decide how you’re going to take the small, daily steps to make that change – not going all-in-overboard for the typical NYR three-week window, but small changes that will last for good.

For me, one of the single biggest stresses in my daily life, one area that I know would greatly improve my moods if I could change it – road rage. I admit it, I have serious issues when it comes to driving. I’m rude, I’m easily irked, I’m incredibly impatient. In short, I could chill the F out a little bit behind the wheel and I know that. I’ve already begun the first two steps in my process to become a calmer, more patient driver – awareness (yes, the first step IS admitting you have a problem) and breathing.

It sounds silly but pausing to take deep breaths vs. swear loudly at the car in front of me is something I’m committed to doing. Unlike curbing my speeding, changing lanes in heavy traffic, and tailgating (none of which I feel strong enough to commit to stopping yet) my breathing strategy is a small enough change that I can honestly say I’ll do it, and it’s something that I believe will make a significant impact.

Am I going to succeed every time I’m behind the wheel? Of course not. Even the best-kept NYR falters here or there. But as long as they’re picked back up right away, that’s the key to making a real healthy habit change. Like I always say, don’t resolve for a few weeks. Commit for the long haul. And, especially since I’ll soon be carrying precious cargo with me, there’s no better time to make the change and become a better driver.

What’s a small, yet impactful – and non-fitness, diet, or exercise-related – change you could make? Is it something you’re willing to commit to as your NYR? Comment it below or tweet it to me @LindsayIRL. When you achieve a little victory, share it with #wellirl. And Happy New Year!

Tis the Season for Treats and Traditions

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”

I stopped by my in-laws’ this weekend and my father-in-law was on hour five of making the special Paulson family lefse. For those of you who aren’t familiar with lefse, it’s a delicious Norwegian treat, kind of a super-light, flexible flatbread made from potatoes. In our family, we smear it with butter, sprinkle with sugar, roll it up, and it’s always on the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Few people make lefse by hand anymore so it’s extra-special that my father-in-law still does it every year, following the handwritten recipe shared with him by his mother. This was the first time I’ve ever seen him making it and, let me tell you, it was quite the process.

Feeling inspired, I went home and made my traditional Christmas treat that I can’t get enough of every season – puppy chow!

Love making it, love eating it.

Unlike my father-in-law’s lefse, puppy chow is super easy to make and doesn’t require any special tools. Also unlike his lefse, my puppy chow doesn’t come via a special family recipe that was handed down to me. In fact, the only real deviation I make from typical puppy chow recipes is that I don’t use any butter in mine – and it still tastes great.

Simple and unsophisticated, it’s something I enjoy making every year and puts me in that festive holiday spirit. I hope making it is a tradition my future child enjoys as much as I do and we can create a couple new ones, too.

For the record, lefse and puppy chow are the definition of a treat – not even close to healthy food so good they only come out once a year. I love both and because they’re tradition, give myself the green light to enjoy them during the holidays. This is one of my tips to keeping holiday eating in check. If you missed that blog, read it now.

Is there a traditional holiday treat you always make every year? What makes it special to you? Post a comment or tweet me @lindsayIRL. And if you have a recipe or photos of your special creation, PLEASE share on Instagram or Twitter with the hasthtag #wellirl. I’d love to see and possibly steal your treat!

The Myth of Motivation

“If it’s important you’ll find a way. If it’s not you’ll find an excuse.”

A local magazine, Fargo INC. recently published a special issue featuring several professionals from the F-M area. As a friend of the Fargo INC crew, I was included, along with a quote on what topic I’d give a TED talk.

To spare you the full quote, my TED talk would be about motivation – specifically, my belief that motivation isn’t a real thing.

Because I will never actually give a TED talk, I thought I’d further explain my thoughts on the myth of motivation and the power of good choice. Keep this in mind too as you enter into New Year’s, whether a full-on Resolution or the feeling of a fresh start.

The Myth of Motivation

Cutting straight to it, here’s the deal: Motivation, in the way nearly everyone thinks of it, doesn’t exist. And the two places it often ends up existing aren’t where it belongs: As a way and as an excuse. Read on for more.

Where It All Began
The first time I remember being annoyed by the idea of motivation was when I was running a lot, after a few marathons under my belt, and the comments I frequently heard.

“I wish I had your motivation.”
“I just need to get motivated to work out.”
“If I could find the motivation, I’d run, too.”

The fact that I ran, and ran marathons in particular, wasn’t because I was one of the lucky few who “had” or “found” motivation on a regular basis. It’s because I made choices.

I made the choice to commit to a training lifestyle that often meant being home by 9 on Friday nights and up by 5 on Saturday mornings.

I made the choice to be diligent about my workouts, no matter if I was tired or sick, or what other excuse I could have come up with to skip out.

I made the choice to work hard. Period.

Assuming I had some kind of magic dose of motivation that enabled me to maintain fitness kind of pissed me off. Almost like it took away from the sacrifices, hard work, focus, and commitment I chose to put in every day.

What It Is, What It Isn’t
Motivation isn’t a measured or quantified. Mine isn’t greater than yours and yours isn’t less than mine.

OCR – proof that we do things by choice, not motivation

Motivation isn’t a possession. I don’t have something that you’re lacking. (If I did, I could have bottled, sold, and used it to become a millionaire by now.)

Motivation isn’t something that’s lost and found. It’s not your car keys, mate to the single sock that came out of the dryer, or that favorite old t-shirt your wife tried to hide.

In short, it’s not real. It’s a concept, a word thrown around to replace a simple act of making choices.

It’s like the quote above states, if it’s important you’ll find a way – you will, not motivation. Likewise, if it’s not important, you’ll find an excuse – again, not motivation’s (or lack of it) fault, your choice. Too often, motivation is mistaken for a way or an excuse when it’s really our own choices and personal responsibility that result in what we do or don’t do.

The next time you’re quick to blame motivation for your failure to make a good choice, don’t. Own up to the actual reason you didn’t.

The next time you’re quick to credit motivation for the great workout you crushed, don’t. Recognize you did that. Just you.

Where do you stand on the idea of motivation? Share a comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL. Be sure to include the hasthtag #wellirl.

Check out the full December issue of Fargo INC.

Why I Will Never #RunStreak

“We’re going streaking”

I’ve been seeing a ton of social posts lately about run streaks – no, not naked running. A run streak is simply running every day for a certain time period. I believe the concept was originally created to encourage staying active during the busy holiday season, with the goal of running at least one mile per day. Now they’ve grown beyond one-month challenges, some becoming year-long (or more) efforts to see how long a person can keep a run streak alive.

Running is pretty much the best thing ever.

This uptick in publicity for them combined with the New Year and Resolutions quickly approach, I have to imagine a run streak challenge of sorts will be on the minds of many this year. If it’s something you want to try, you should. But if you don’t think it’s right for you, you’re not alone and shouldn’t feel any pressure to participate.

Me, I’m not considering it or on the fence. I flat-out will never participate in a run streak. Yes, me, the girl who loves running. Here’s why.

I’m a believer in balance. And to me, balance includes, but is not limited to, the following five areas:

1. A weekly rest day
2. Cross-training
3. Proactive injury prevention
4. Deload weeks
5. Mental breaks from training

Run streaks break all these rules of balance.

Even Burton & I need our breaks from running.

1. Not taking one day off from working out each week is a mistake, especially when workouts are intense. No matter how “easy” your run is, running is still a physically demanding activity, one that your body deserves a break from at least a couple days a week.

2. Never mixing up cardio bores your body and makes it too easy to miss out on results and benefits of challenging workouts. Running every single day not only bores your body, it must bore your mind – even for those of us who legit love running.

3. Over-training injuries are super-common for runners. Event with all the foam rolling, stick therapy, cupping massages, and other ways to take care of ourselves, nearly all of us will fall to an overuse injury at least once in our lives. The best way to prevent over-training injuries? Don’t over-train aka, don’t push your body to run every single day.

4. Common in lifting programs, deload weeks entail greatly backing off your normal intensity in order to let your body recover, refresh, and ultimately get stronger. Runners need deload weeks, too – it’s why training programs include weeks where mileage and long runs greatly scale back. Even if you reduce mileage for a few days or speed, running every day never allows the body the deload time it needs to recover, refresh, and get stronger.

5. As much as I love running, there are some days I hate it. Few and far between, these days always seem to come, often when I’m training and putting in a lot of running. Just as the body needs a day off from intense working out, the mind can crave those breaks, too.

Wow, did I just dump on run streaks? Not really, these are my opinions and the reasons why I will never take part in one. But, like I always say, “Different strokes for different folks.” Only you know what’s best for your health and wellness.

If running every day is what makes you your best or is what you need to do to stay committed to your health, by all means do it!

But before you jump on the run streak bandwagon and put yourself at risk (yes, risk – there are unarguably risks involved with running every day) consider that it might not be right for you – and that’s okay.

Are you a loyal run streaker or have you participated in a run streak challenge in the past? How long was it? What did you love or hate about it? Comment on this post or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

Adjusting to Big Changes Now and to Come

“The best is yet to come”

Earlier this week I had a meltdown. It was one I hadn’t yet experienced. It was also one related to something major in my life I hadn’t yet blogged about and made me realize how much writing helps me as much as I like to write to help others.

The big news I haven’t yet officially shared here? I’m pregnant. Happy and exciting news for sure!

I’ve had my reservations to share for two main reasons. One, like many moms-to-be, I was a little nervous about announcing something that could end abruptly – miscarriages happen. Second, like all first-time moms-to-be, I’m going through a whole bunch of new stuff. Both my body and I aren’t quite sure what’s going on with us, nor do we know what to expect, what’s “right” to do, or how to handle it. How do I blog about something I know virtually nothing about?

Take the above-mentioned meltdown. Five months into pregnancy, for the first time I had the harsh realization that I’m getting bigger – I mean, my belly has been growing but that wasn’t a big deal. As someone who’s always carried weight in my belly, I was embracing the concept of not sucking in or standing up perfectly straight to avoid gut bumps under my clothes.

It sure is

No, this was the realization that everything is getting bigger. Tops and pants are getting tighter in areas other than the belly, even my baggy and stretchy workout clothes aren’t fitting comfortably any more. My emotions got the best of me and I was awful. A couple good workouts and conversations with my mom girlfriends, and some new, bigger clothes later I’m feeling better.

But I also decided, why avoid this topic on the blog? It has been a huge part of my life the past five months and the transition to being a fit mom will be something I work on every day after p-nut (what I’m calling Baby P) is born.

Don’t expect this to turn into a mommy blog; it’s not going to. But here and there, I’ll be tossing in a little something that ties pregnancy in with fitness and wellness.

Not to focus only on this rough patch, there have also been some pretty great moments.

I ran a full marathon, three half marathons, and dozens of training miles while pregnant – most of them in the hot summer months. As any mom-to-be knows, those first few months of pregnancy are exhausting. And not only are you lacking energy, it’s tough to eat well (runners cannot live on saltines and soup alone) so I’m pretty proud of those accomplishments. And how cool to tell my future child he/she got to run Chicago Marathon with mom.

I’ve also managed to get back into lifting these past two months. After Chicago Marathon, I had more time in my workout schedule and finally started to get my energy back.

I’ve also had those cool moments of feeling p-nut move for the first time, hear his/her heartbeat at doctor visits, and received the fantastic news that everything looked good and strong at the midway ultrasound.

I know being an awesome mom as well as a fit and well one isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it’s probably going to be incredibly hard, exhausting, frustrating, all of it. But if everything I’ve heard is correct, it will be worth it.

Fit moms, any advice for good workouts these last few months of pregnancy? How about getting back into the swing once baby arrives? Comment on this post or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

Be Thankful for Fitness

“Working out is a privilege”

I took a cycling class this morning. It wasn’t a typical spin class offered at the gym, rather a sweat-inducing, heart-pounding, muscle-fatiguing class at the local Cyclebar studio.

During one particularly challenging part of the class, Jodi, our instructor, shouted out something that I love – the quote you read at the beginning of this blog: “Working out is a privilege.”

Ainsley’s Angels always reminds me how fortunate I am to be able to run.

It really is, isn’t it? Too many times, many look at working out as something we have to do. But it’s something we get to do.

Sure, it can be tough. Many workouts are challenging. And some are downright exhausting. But every workout is an opportunity to treat ourselves to numerous health benefits. A chance to make ourselves feel better than if we didn’t do it. Something many of us take for granted that we have the ability to do. It really is a privilege.

Especially this time of year when we’re giving thanks and counting our blessings, while also rushing around to holiday parties, baking for cookie exchanges, and squeezing in all the shopping, let’s not forget the ability of our bodies and minds to be at their best, and the opportunity we have to get them there.

What are you thankful for this year? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL. Share your wellness gratitude moments on Twitter and Instagram with the hasthtag #wellirl.

How to Eat Well on Thanksgiving

“Balanced eating is one piece of pie in each hand”

I’m about to drop something big on you all – Thanksgiving is next week.

Okay, blog lead-in was kind of a big letdown. Whether you noticed the calendar or influx of Christmas ads, we all know it’s Thanksgiving next week. But seriously, it’s Thanksgiving next week. That came fast.

I love Thanksgiving. It doesn’t come with loud noises that might scare your dogs into hiding until the next morning. It doesn’t require weeks of planning the perfect costume. Best of all, it doesn’t demand you shop for hours and lovingly wrap gifts that your siblings are for sure going to return the following week.

Thanksgiving is all about family, football, and food – and maybe even a nice long afternoon nap. Speaking of food, while I love that part, it’s also the part that can cause anxiety for those trying to eat well and balanced. So I’m going to share with you my secret tip for eating on Thanksgiving.

If turkey is your thing, eat all the turkey.

Eat whatever you damn well want to. That’s right. ALL THE FOOD.

No guilt. No feeling like you have to exercise the morning of or all day the next day. No counting calories. No shame in that second piece of pie.

It’s Thanksgiving. It’s one day a year and I think part of following a mindful, balanced eating approach the other 300-plus days of the year means you can enjoy everything wonderful about the day, including all – yes, ALL – of your favorite Thanksgiving foods. My plate will be filled with salad, lefse, potatoes, corn stuffing, and at least one piece of pumpkin pie and my aunt Janet’s special pumpkin torte – essentially, an amazing pumpkin cheesecake-like dessert. Can’t.effing.wait.

Happy Thanksgiving, fit friends. May your day be filled with family, football, and food, or all your favorite things on this holiday.

Do you allow yourself to indulge on Thanksgiving? Or are you more of a cautious, limited eater? Either one is okay as long as it makes you happy! Share with me in the comments or tweet me at @LindsayIRL. Be sure to use hashtag #wellirl to share your Thanksgiving feast on Instagram and Twitter.

How to Stay Safe Running in the Dark

“Hello darkness, my old friend”

Last week’s blog was the unofficial start of winter running, and I was excited to share tips to help all brave the temps and enjoy the outdoor miles during this beautiful season.

This week brings more on outdoor running during another notable time of year, though I bring it to you not as enthusiastically. It’s the only drawback that comes with running outside this time of year – darkness.

Don’t worry, Burton – we’ll be safe out there

The early morning daylight is a distant August memory and the evening daylight has been dwindling, with it all but gone now when most of us leave work for the day. If you’re like me and enjoy a post-work run outside or if you’re an early riser who hits the pavement, you’re going to deal with darkness.

While enjoyable and safe, dark running comes with a slew to strategies to ensure both of those benefits are met. Here are a few things to consider to stay happy and healthy during the season of darkness.

Ditch the Headphones
I’m a big fan of running without headphones for focused, peaceful, and mindful outdoor running. When it’s dark out and you need to be more aware of your surroundings, it’s an even stronger case for leaving the iPod at home.

If you need your tunes or podcast while you stride, at least turn down the volume so you’re not totally zoned out from the world.

Invest in a Vest
It’s a good idea to wear bright-colored clothing when running in the dark. Taking it a step further, a bright, reflective vest is a great addition to your running gear this time of year. The one I have it super lightweight so I barely even notice it – though I take comfort in knowing drivers notice it.

A small piece of gear that offers a big benefit

Plan Ahead
Mapping out your route ahead of time is smart, especially so you can include paths and locations that are well-lit and safe – and avoid areas that aren’t.

Bonus if you can leave the route on your computer for your roommate, spouse, or parent to know where you are and how far you’re going.

Bring a Phone
In addition to skipping headphones, my phone is typically something I leave at home during a run. It’s the one time in the day I feel like it’s okay to unplug and not be available. But there’s a good argument for having it on dark runs.

In the event something goes horribly wrong during the run – you roll an ankle on uneven ground, trip over something you don’t see, or encounter a shady individual – having a phone can be a literal lifesaver.

Don’t Forget Your Furry Friend
While it’s great to have your safety as first priority, don’t forget about your running buddy (if you have one).

Burton’s regular running leash is reflective so it’s great for those semi-dark or dusk runs. When it gets really dark or if I know we’ll be running on a path where we may encounter others, I have a little light that I can attach to the leash to make sure people and pets are aware of us.

What else do you do to stay safe and enjoy outdoor running this time of year? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL. Share your dark running experiences on Twitter and Instagram too using hashtag #wellirl.

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