How Labor is Like Running a Marathon

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”

It’s April and, for the first time in years, I’m not in the midst of training for a marathon – which coincidentally means I’m not blogging about marathon training. Weird.

It just doesn’t feel right to not be blogging about marathon running this time of year. Since I like to blog about recent experiences and I recently experienced having a baby, combined with me having marathons on my mind, I started thinking about the similarities of running a marathon and going through labor.

Not ready to run yet but we’ll get there

Here are seven ways labor is like running a marathon.

1. Prep Work
Unless you’re that one random person who runs a marathon without training (which I don’t advise and do not support) runners put in several weeks of preparation, logging tons of miles, dealing with some level of aches and pains, and ideally eating well and getting more sleep. Labor is similar.

While the big event is the highlight, no one has a baby without the months of prep that is pregnancy. For some, this means some level of aches and pains but hopefully is more focused on eating well and getting more sleep.

2. You Must Buy Stuff
From specific shoes to moisture-wicking clothes to supplements, training for a marathon requires specific gear to help get in your best shape for race day. Labor is similar.

There’s a lot of stuff one needs to make it through the months leading up to labor and grow a healthy baby. For me, that included maternity pants, prenatal vitamins, and bigger workout leggings, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

3. All the Feels
When you line up at the start of the marathon, there’s a mix of excitement and nerves. This continues through the first few miles and brings additional feelings – some may feel overwhelmed by how much work there still is to go among other things. By the time you get into the later miles, exhaustion and pain may produce frustration and the typical, “Why did I decide to do this,” feeling. Finally, crossing the finish line – joy! Labor is similar.

When labor starts, there’s a mix of emotions, most of them happy. Once things progress and it gets more painful, that changes – I for one had the “Why did we decide to do this,” feeling during some particularly painful and close together contractions. But when our son arrived – joy!

4. Flying By
When you cross the start line and begin a marathon, it sets in that you have a long way to go and there’s hours of hard work ahead. But strangely enough, it goes by so fast and it’s over before you know it. Labor is similar.

Now I can’t speak to this as well. The actual labor portion of my experience was only about five hours. Many parents-to-be go through hard labor for 10, 20, even 40-plus hours – that’s right, two full days. But I have to imagine their feelings are similar in that, yes, it may seem like forever but before you know it, it’s over.

5. Never Again…Well…
The first time I ran a marathon, I swore I’d never do one again. Yes, this was around mile 22 or so when I wanted to die and the finish line still seemed so far away. To be honest, nearly every time I’ve run or trained for a marathon, I have proclaimed that this will be my last one. Spoiler alert: It never is. Labor is similar.

When my contractions started, it didn’t take long for them to start coming fast and furious. I can’t remember if I said it out loud or just to myself, but I decided right then and there this baby would be an only child. No way in hell I was going through this again. Fast forward to today, I of course would go through it again.

6. The Pain Continues
Even for the most badass runners, some pain and discomfort is likely during a marathon. And once you finish the race, the pain doesn’t end. It’s not uncommon to have soreness and pain for days after the marathon. Labor is similar.

There’s plenty of pain and discomfort during labor, and plenty more that comes for days, even weeks after. Let’s just leave it at that.

This – the ultimate victory

7. The Reward is Incredible
There’s no feeling like finishing a marathon. Whether your first or tenth, whether you hit your goal or not, it’s an accomplishment that goes beyond the actual race day; weeks, even months of discipline and work all for that incredible feeling. Labor is similar.

Making it to the baby finish line is an indescribable feeling. Not only is it a relief after all the work, you get the ultimate prize – not even the coolest finisher’s medal can compete with meeting your baby!

Speaking of marathons, Abel turns one month old on Monday April 16 – Boston Marathon day. We’ll be celebrating on Patriots Day by watching the marathon and BoSox game. I’m so excited for – and super jealous of – all the runners in this year’s Boston Marathon. Good luck and enjoy the run! It’s the absolute best.

If you have something to add to this post or any other thoughts on it, please leave a comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

From Wellness to Motherhood

“Some moms lift more than just their kids”

Wow. I’ve been incredibly MIA from the blog lately. Usually this time of year is filled with stories about marathon training, posts about all the food I’m eating, and a blurb about the struggle of trying to lift while running so much (why do I always assume this is the year I’ll be able to still lift hard and heavy while training for a marathon?). As much as I love the blog and my commitment to sharing new stories each week, the past few weeks have seen my focus shift to a much bigger priority.

The moment life changed forever…and I’d never sleep again

Nearly two weeks early and weighing in at just six pounds and one ounce, baby boy Paulson joined our family on March 16. We named him Abel and he has brought to us a wonderful mix of love, exhaustion, happiness, and frustration. Long nights and plenty of tough days have combined with sweet snuggles and so much love for this tiny human I didn’t know I was capable of.

With my days preoccupied, my nights no longer devoted to sleep, my diet being more restrictive than when I was pregnant, and my body needing some time to rest and heal, general wellness – working out, mindful “me” time, and eating to perform – have fallen to the bottom of the priority list. But even when I get the all-clear from my doc to get back to workouts, I wonder how I’m going to fit it all in, especially when I go back to work.

People always tell you having a baby changes everything and you have no idea what you’re in for and you’ll no longer have time for things you did before. It’s true. I mean, it has taken me the entire morning to write this one little blog post! Life – both in general and in wellness – is never going to be the way it used to be so my new challenge will be figuring out how to do it all. That, and running my first postpartum mile after nearly three months of not running, yikes.

Moms and dads, how do you fit it fitness along with everything else? Any tips for a brand-new mom? Comment on this post or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

Getting Back to – New – Normal Workouts

“When things can’t go back to normal, create a new normal”

March has arrived. It’s my favorite month and always has been. It’s the best time to go snowboarding. The weather is still chilly but nice enough to run or walk outside. The days are starting to get longer. And, of course, it’s the month of my favorite holiday: 311 day.

This year, March is extra-special because p-nut (aka Baby) is expected to make his or her arrival around the 28th. After months of, what I would call a pretty easy and uneventful pregnancy, I’m beyond excited to meet our little one. This excitement of course is mixed with nerves, fear of painful recovery, and the dreaded exhaustion – still, can’t wait for it all.

One of the reasons I love March – can’t wait to get back to snowboarding

One of the things I’m also excited to get back to is a normal fitness routine. Don’t worry, I know with a baby consuming most of my life, it will be a “new” normal. But still, normal in terms of non-pregnancy workouts.

Anyone who says you can work out all throughout pregnancy, right up to your due date, is right. I know mamas-to-be who have, myself included (technically I’m about three weeks til my due date but planning to keep going right up until it’s time to push). However, I will admit one thing: it’s hard. Especially in the early and late months, it’s really, sometimes REALLY hard. The fatigue, lack of energy, sometimes downright sick feelings take their toll.

And then there’s the bump itself. Last week I shared that the hardest part of my workouts these days is putting on my shoes and I was serious; like 95% of days that’s the biggest challenging separating me from a sweat sesh and just saying screw it, putting on sweats, and curling up on the couch with Burton and a bowl of mini wheats. But aside from getting in the way of certain exercises, making it harder to pick up and put down weights, and of course, the shoe situation, bringing the bump and extra weight along on every workout definitely takes its toll. I just can’t do the same things I’ve been able to before.

So one of the reasons I’m looking forward to postpartum exercise is the chance to, hopefully, start to feel like myself in the gym and outside again. And don’t even get me started on how pumped I am to start doing all my favorite activities again, snowboarding (next year) and running (ASAP). After having to stop running after week 32, I can’t wait to get outside, even just for a half mile run then to walk. And best of all, I’ll get to continue bringing p-nut along for those workouts. Hopefully the stroller is a little easier than in my belly?

Workout moms, any advice for getting back into fitness after a baby? How about dads, how did you have to adjust your routine after the new little one in your life? Comment below or tweet me @LindsayIRL.

Finding a Way for Wellness

“And now I’ll do what’s best for me”

Last week, something kind of crazy happened. Something that hasn’t happened in, I can’t even remember how long. The kind of thing I don’t allow to happen because I’m a super-disciplined, high-achieving, schedule-driven nut.

I didn’t post a new blog last Sunday.

Eeekkk, it’s true?! Yes, after weeks, months, even years of faithful weekly posting on Sundays, I didn’t post a new blog last Sunday.

One advantage of a big belly – a good spot for a baby

At first I chalked it up to one of two things. First, I mainly write about working out, running, and lifting, with the occasional inspiring wellness or healthy food-related post peppered in. At 36 weeks pregnant now, working out has become tougher for me, which makes it more challenging to write. When I say tougher, I mean it literally; my belly literally makes it tougher to do anything, from picking up weights to putting on my shoes for my workout – you read that right, my biggest challenge these days isn’t lacking energy or feeling strong, it’s putting on my damn shoes.

Quick pause – I love my giant belly. I love hauling it around. I love that it gets in my way. I love that it makes putting on pants and socks an event and challenge of Olympic proportions.

As far as healthy eating, I’m still doing pretty well there – but it’s now baby-focused eating vs. eating to run of lift. And in terms of general wellness, again, everything is so baby-centric, it’s tough to find a recent experience or something general to write about.

Got my mind on someone else these days, too

If not writer’s block, the second thought I had is my priorities are changing. The weekend was busy with baby showers, baby laundry, basically a lot of things baby.

But then I realized it’s not even that. It’s something we all deal with, all the time. Something I haven’t had to deal with much in the past several years but something that’s going to change dramatically: my routine.

I’m such a structured, routine-based person. Part of that is this blog. Sunday is always blogging day. Looking ahead at being a working mom, I have a feeling Sunday, and weekends in general, are going to be all about family time, not long workouts and blogging time. That means I have to dedicate a different time in my week to the blog or be okay with not posting every week like clockwork. I’m a morning person, maybe I’ll get up a little earlier on a certain day of the week. Who knows, but I’ll figure it out. Just as I’ll figure out how to fit fitness into my life when there’s a little one that needs me first.

It’s like that saying goes, if it’s important, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse. Writing is important for me, actually, in a lot of the ways fitness is important to me. While it may not be the same as it was before, it’ll still remain part of life.

What’s a recent disruption to your wellness routine you’ve dealt with lately? How did you make the adjustment to get back on track? Comment below or tweet me @LindsayIRL.

Feeling the Olympic Spirit

“Train with purpose”

After a long wait, it’s finally here again – the Winter Olympics. I love the Olympics. Unlike most, I enjoy watching the Winter games equally as much as I enjoy the Summer edition. Downhill skiing, figure skating, hockey, and my personal favorite, snowboarding. It’s all so great.

I’ve wrote a few Olympics-themed blogs in the past, none that top the lists of favorites as much as when I interviewed Carrie Tollefson two years ago prior to the Summer Olympics. If you haven’t read that one yet, enjoy it now – Carrie’s awesome, funny, and keeps it real.

As a non-professional athlete, there’s something about the Olympics that usually puts me in a great mood to up my workouts. During the Summer games, running events make me want to focus on my form and speed, swimming events get me jacked to jump in the pool and do laps, while the gymnasts remind me how much I love lifting and being strong.

Not quite an Olympic team but a different dream team

This year, watching the Winter games, it’s not quite the same. I’m feeling in about as un-Olympic shape as possible. With just about six weeks to go until my due date (yay!), I’m very…large. Good large, of course. And the good news is I’m still fairly comfortable and working out regularly. Just last week I was even able to participate in a team cycling event for charity, and did pretty well.

Overall, I’ve had to adjust the intensity and types of workouts, and I’m definitely working out for different reasons now. Still kind of training – just for a new purpose.

One more note about the Olympics; my large-ness has resulted in many of my lounging tees being too snug for comfort so I’ve resorted to wearing my husband’s. As I’m sitting here watching the biathlon, I realized I’m wearing his Mike Eruzione Team USA tee – looks like I’m riding the Olympic feeling all over the place.

Do the Olympics inspire the athlete in you to come out harder? What’s your favorite event to watch or the one that gets you pumped the most? Post a comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL. Share your Olympic-worthy workouts on Instagram or Twitter with the hasthtag #wellirl.

Why I Love Running

“You make my heart beat faster”

Last week, I came to a tough and literally painful realization. At 32 weeks pregnant, I laced up my running shoes and hit the treadmill for the last time until Baby P aka p-nut arrives. I’ve reached the point where I’m feeling pain during and, especially, after my run and after talking with a few mother runner friends, decided it would be best to take a break until I’m cleared and ready to go post-baby.

Am I bummed? Of course. Am I feeling sorry for myself? Hell no. I’m 34 years old and having a comfortable, uncomplicated pregnancy. Life is pretty fantastic.

But as I’ve been missing running, I’ve been realizing why it’s something I love so much. Because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and running is known to get the blood pumping and heart beating, here are the five reasons there’s so much to love about running.

Running with friends – one of the biggest things I’ll miss the next few months

1. It’s a Feel-Good
There are few things that match how good it feels to finish a run, whether a big race, hard training run, or short one after a long day of work.

With 10 marathons, more than a dozen half marathons, and who knows how many miles under my belt, I’ve had plenty of days where I haven’t wanted to run or I’ve had a terrible run. Yet, there’s still something about a good run – the mix of peace, strength, and a job well-done.

2. It’s Stress Relief
Everyone has stress in their life and different ways to relieve it. Running is one of my biggest stress relievers.

Luckily, working out in general – a mix of walking, other cardio, and lifting, seems to be doing the trick, along with mindfulness, writing, and a few other strategies have been helping me supplement as my running has tapered.

3. It’s Scalable
There’s a saying that it doesn’t matter how fast or how far you go. I’ve never found this to be truer than in my second and third trimesters.

When I was training for Chicago Marathon, it was rare I’d run fewer than four miles for a training run. Typically I was running six to eight miles on weekdays, then whatever my long run happened to be. My typical running pace was about an 8-min/mile, give or take based on weather.

The past few months, I’ve been running three, two, even one mile at a time, with pace closer to a 9-min/mile. And you know what? I still feel great about those miles. I guess it’s true, it really doesn’t matter how fast or far you go, as long as you go.

Burton prefers to run, not ride – soon, buddy

4. It’s For Everyone
Just as it doesn’t matter how fast or far you go, it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert; you’re carrying a few extra pounds or super-fit. Running is something anyone can do.

5. It’s Fun
I legitimately find running to be a fun way to spend my time. To some people, this is crazy. Others totally get it. And, while I’ll never claim that I don’t have those bad days, the ones that suck or the ones I just don’t want to run, at the end of the day, I truly enjoy it.

Whether it’s a solo run, a run with friends, or, my personal favorite, a run with Burton, running is fun.

What workout do you want to show a little love for this Valentine’s Day? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL. Share pics and moments of you lovin your workout on Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #wellirl.

What Happens When There’s a Shift in Routine

“It’s good to be regular”

I have what one might refer to as Type A personality. In the Myers Briggs personality test, I’m a hard J vs. a P. When looking at my Strengths Finder, Discipline is among my top themes.

What does all this mean? I’m an organizer, a planner, and someone who enjoys structure and routine. I was thinking about this when I recently realized something. This is the first time in several years I’m not in the early stages of my training program for a spring marathon.

These days I just run for fun – and still with dogs

I admit, it has been weird to have Friday nights open for eating whatever I want, to sleep in and not go through my Saturday morning long run regimen, and to have my weeknights more freed up to choose other forms of cardio.

But it has also been somewhat welcome – perhaps because I’m now focused on eating for someone else, enjoying my sleep more, and, some days, only have the energy to go for a 30-minute walk.

I think the Type A, J, and Discipline in me would be really struggling with this new routine if not for the baby on the way. But for now, I’ve managed to take it in stride, even enjoy it – though I admit, I can’t wait until I’m ready to get back to normal running and maybe even a race training program later this year.

Do you enjoy the routine and structure that comes from training for a race? Why or why not? Comment or tweet me @lindsayIRL. I’d love to see how training is going for anyone who’s currently preparing for a spring race so please share your training moments on Instagram or Twitter with the hasthtag #wellirl.

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!

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