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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Overcoming Life Challenges with Fitness: You Don’t Forget the Hills

IMG_2506Fitness is a great tool to use to train the mind. Yes, often people work out for physical health, but exercise is also getting a lot of hype from psychologists. Many studies are proving that exercise and movement increase brain function, memory, and thinking skills. Not just that; the motivation, positivity, and strength learned and gained from an exercise session can all be used in daily life situations. 

I began doing yoga and running in 2009 as a way to de-stress when my mother was ill with cancer. At the time, I never knew that the real-world challenges I was going through would turn into my passion and lead me to my full-time career. I can honestly say that the motivational lesson of learning through sweat sessions helped me overcome daily life challenges and inspired to me share that with others.

From Yoga to Real Life

Yoga taught me to breathe. Breathing is a necessary human function, but one of the hardest things to do in a challenging situation. Learning breathing and mindfulness on my yoga mat taught me how to take it into my daily life. If I’m facing a challenge, it probably means I need to slow down, breathe, and evaluate what needs to be done.

Running taught me that there are days you are tired, sore, and don’t want to do something, but showing up and doing it will always feel better. My mom’s motivation to wake up every day on her weakest, saddest, and scariest days helped inspire me along my fitness journey to be fearless and “Just Do It™.”

As I began doing yoga and running, I fell so in love and developed such a deep passion for these things that I wanted to continue to learn about them. I got my 200 Hour yoga certification in 2014. I never knew that it would turn into a full-time career in NYC where I was inspiring packed rooms and training celebrities. That sounds great and glamorous, and honestly it was, but again yoga really just taught me to breathe and open my mind. I realized that going to New York was running away from dealing with my past. I was ready to face it again. New York is a stressful environment. I was keeping up just fine, but was pushing out family because I was “too busy training Victoria’s Secret models,” although I knew the real reason was fear and not fully living out what I was learning.

Letting go of ego is another lesson I learned on my yoga mat, and I knew that I could find balance between family and doing what I loved if I took some deep breaths, tuned in, and followed my head and heart at the same time. After three years in the Big Apple, I decided to live out my fitness and move back home to build my family bond and let go of anything from my past that challenged me, just as I had been doing for years in the gym.

From Running Away to Running Home

Along with my personal training success came my “glory days” of running. I was a runner because I loved how it felt. I had no clue I would one weekend wake up and call a friend asking whether I could run a marathon in her city the following weekend, and then show up and actually complete it. Well I did. And I don’t remember much about that race except a few things—the times I was challenged the most. My first challenge came at mile 6, my first hill. I remember that thing looking like a mountain. The second thing I remember was turning to my family in my time of need. At mile 13.1, I called my dad, crying:

“What am I doing? Should I just run a half marathon today?”

He responded with, “Just take a deep breath.” Well, at that moment my heart might have felt like it was going to burst out of my chest, and my mind was in a negative state underestimating my strength, but that connection and reminder to take a deep breath and tune in to my ultimate goal helped me complete 26.2 miles that day, and with the biggest smile on my face. I now coach others in running, and in the challenging times I bring out some of the lessons I learned to teach and inspire them, letting them know that I get it and understand because I’ve been in that headspace too. But I also remind them that this is no challenge you can’t overcome if you just take a deep breath and tune in. I also like reminding people that if 30-second fitness challenges or hills are the hardest struggles in their day, week, or life, they are pretty lucky!

At-Home Exercise Your Mind

So, here’s your chance to exercise your mind:

  • What has challenged you in the gym?
  • What did you do about it?
  • What words of encouragement helped you overcome it?
  • What was the feeling of overcoming challenge?

Now take that into your daily life. What is challenging you, and can you breathe and stay positive through that situation?

“JUST DO IT ™” —Gary Gilmore

Just Do It is a trademark of shoe company Nike.

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: running yoga fitness stress emotional attitude marathon

You’ll Never Do a Marathon? Five Reasons to Join Group Training

Some people really love to run; some don’t. For those who do, running is so much more than just getting in a few miles to check “workout” off the list. It can be a social hour and a stress reliever; it can be therapeutic, present a challenge to take on, and help people step away from the mundane routine of waking up, going to work, coming home, and repeat!

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Now for those who do not enjoy it, when you see all the promotions to sign-up to race you think, “Why on earth would I want to pay to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles? I don’t even want to bike or drive that far; why would I run that far?” Let me share with you five motivations to consider giving it a shot.

  1. Raise money for a charity: This has grown in popularity over the last five years or so and is a great reason to sign up for a half or full marathon. If for no other reason at all, find your favorite charity, get some people to sponsor each mile you run, and when you finish you can joyfully donate that money to the charity of choice. I can’t think of any better reason to put in time than to do it for a cause or in memory of someone.
  2. Inspire others: Others are always watching each of us, whether or not we realize it. Maybe it’s your kids, your spouse, or your best friend, but someone out there admires you. By turning your focus from yourself outward, you may inspire someone to do something that they thought was virtually impossible.
  3. Stretch your limits: When is that last time you really pushed to see just how much you could do? If you have not experienced a full or half marathon, trust me when I say it can really stretch your limits. Maybe running this distance is something you have never imagined yourself doing. I assure you, you will run all the way to the point that you thought you could go, and then you’ll run right past it! Training for a distance race will absolutely push your limits, but it will also leave you feeling a huge sense of accomplishment afterward.
  4. Meet new people: It’s really fun to be part of the running community. Training for an event like this takes a great deal of time and effort, and I can assure you that you will make some lifelong friends in a running group. Seriously, try it; next thing you know you will be traveling to other states to run together!
  5. Learn your body’s capabilities: Sometimes we think we have hit the peak of what we can do, and we really understand what our bodies can physically handle. I challenge you to try running a half or full marathon. You will define new boundaries of what you are capable of. It’s truly amazing to think about what the body can sustain through training when done properly.

I hope that something on this list has hit home for you. Take a step past what you always thought was impossible or maybe just not very smart, and get yourself signed up for a race this fall. We would love to have you come and train with us, too!

Check out the NIFS Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program. Take advantage of Early Bird pricing through November 30th. Training begins Jan 23, 2019 so register now!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: marathon half marathon NIFS group training fall marathon training motivation running

NIFS Member Kelly Dodds, 50 and Fierce, Hits a Marathon Goal

Kelly-Doddsnew.jpgHave you ever thought of doing something big for those special birthday milestones? I can easily recall all the excitement that came with my 16th birthday, for behind-the-wheel freedom, being able to call myself an adult at 18, and we all know the free feeling of legality when turning 21. Then there are those later-year birthdays, such as 30, 40, and 50, that tend to be looked upon as a negative thing with the “it’s all downhill from here,” mentality.

In the last few years, however more men and women have taken it upon themselves to look at these latter milestones as a time to accomplish a longtime goal or to cross off an item from their bucket list. Personally, I am enjoying this new outlook and challenge! I would like to share with you an experience from one of our own NIFS members, Kelly, who decided to take up the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World as she turns 50 this month.

The Dopey Challenge is a four-day event in Orlando, Florida, that consists of four races within four days: a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday, and a full marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday. Sounds pretty crazy, right? Well let me be the first to tell you, Kelly not only completed it but also did far better than she expected. She crushed her goals and was able to complete all four races injury free. And throughout the different races, she felt stronger than she had ever anticipated. But don’t just hear it from me; read on below for her personal account of this crazy experience.

Could you give us a little background about yourself?

“This past year has been a year of milestones for me. My husband, Kevin, and I celebrated 25 years of marriage last July. We also celebrated 10 years as Kristen’s parents (same day). In addition to being a wife and mother, I have worked at the NCAA for 16 years. I am also active in my church, teaching Sunday school and helping with our youth group. Exercise is something I definitely need for balance. I started running about 20 years ago. I had just turned 30, and although I was not overweight, could still visibly see a need for exercise. To start out, I was mainly doing cardio on a stair-stepper we had in our garage, but one Saturday I decided to go for a run to mix it up a little. I was hooked. Before I knew it, I completed the Mini-Marathon (the first of many half marathons) and eventually completed my first marathon at age 40.”

What made you decide to sign up for the Dopey Challenge?

“I had heard about the Dopey Challenge soon after it began in 2013. I had done two marathons, so with my 50th birthday on the horizon, I thought it would be the perfect challenge. There was only one person that I mentioned it to who did not think it was a crazy idea: my husband. (I guess you start to think alike when you have been married for so long.) That made the idea of doing it even more enticing—something that we would do together. I could hardly wait.”

What did you do in order to prepare for the series of races?

“I signed up for the Dopey in April and knew that I wanted to lose some weight and gain some strength. At the time, I did do strength training twice a week on my own in my home, but felt I wasn’t getting much benefit out of it. I decided to see what NIFS had to offer and came across the Ramp Up to Weight Loss program. That is where I met Masie. She came up with a great program that helped me reach my goal. Rebecca and Angie were also instrumental in my journey. I learned so much and they were always my biggest cheerleaders. After that, I continued with a maintenance program at NIFS and followed a running schedule developed by Hal Higdon specifically for the Dopey Challenge. Masie tailored my workouts so that I would be a stronger runner. It worked, as I was running faster and finishing stronger. I could not believe the difference since April.”

Were there any setbacks during training or doubts about achieving your goals? If so, how did you deal with them?

“The training was harder than I anticipated. Getting the back-to-back runs completed is the biggest part of the training, so there really is not much flexibility. By mid-November I was so tired of running all the time. The weather was turning colder and the holiday season didn’t help. Physically I was fine, but mentally I was exhausted. For my last long run it was cold, rainy, and windy. I was soaked and my legs burned. I just reminded myself that it is not supposed to be easy and it would be over soon. It really is such a mental thing.”

How was the trip? What happened during your weekend there?

“The trip began perfectly. I hit my personal goal times for the 5K and 10K and was feeling great. We enjoyed the parks after both races, basking in the sunny, 70-degree weather. However, the weather was looking threatening for Saturday with storms. Sure enough, on Friday night we got an e-mail stating the half marathon would be canceled as it would be too dangerous. They would give us our medals for the half after the marathon. I could have cried. I worked so hard and was so excited about doing all four races. But there was nothing I could do about it. I knew I had to get those miles in.

The storms were supposed to move through by 9 a.m., so my husband and I decided that we would run the 13.1 miles on the running trail at our resort. The distance is marked and I also had a GPS on my watch, so I knew I could feel confident about the miles. We got up the next day and headed out in the rain to do our half. I wore exactly what I had planned to wear, including my Dopey Challenge bib.

As I approached the running trail I could hear shouting. I then saw the most incredible sight. There were dozens of people out there running. Most had their Dopey Challenge bibs on, some even had costumes. One lady was carrying her American flag. Runners that were finished stood on the side to cheer on those of us still running. As we ran and passed each other (over and over again—we had to do 11 laps) we were high fiving and congratulating one another. There was more buzz and excitement than I have ever experienced at a half marathon—ever. (We later learned that this phenomenon was happening at all the Disney resorts, and actually started on Friday night after the announcement.) As I ran that morning, the miles flew by. I had a ball. Most importantly, I could now look forward to the marathon—including the celebration—knowing I got all 48.6 miles done. The marathon went as expected, although it was pretty chilly—40 degrees the entire time. But I finished strong and missed my personal goal time by only 3½ minutes. It was an extraordinary feeling to cross that finish line.”

What are your exercise plans for the future?

“I am continuing my program here at NIFS. Now that the races are over, my strength training will change so that I can focus more on getting my body-fat percentage down. I am back to running regularly and am looking forward to the Mini-Marathon this spring. I would like to do another marathon soon. My husband and I are already talking about another one we could do together. Although I don’t see any more Dopeys in my future, I have not ruled out doing a 50K someday. Maybe for my 60th? We shall see…”

***

We are so proud of Kelly and all of her accomplishments! We had the pleasure of working with her during most of her training before her big race weekend and developed so much admiration for her continuous dedication to her running program. Kelly displays that go-getter attitude that is contagious! I hope this experience can be that motivational nudge you need to make one of your goals a reality this year. Don’t wait any longer; this year can be that year, and NIFS has so many programs that can help get you there! Click here to find out what we offer.

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This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, Group Fitness Coordinator and NIFS Trainer. To find out more about our bloggers, click here.

Topics: half marathon mini marathon 5k running NIFS weight loss marathon